Jordan FM discusses drug smuggling with Iranian counterpart

Jordan FM discusses drug smuggling with Iranian counterpart
Jordan's Foreign Minister told his Iranian counterpart that the kingdom will take "all necessary measures" to deal with drug smuggling from Syria.
2 min read
26 December, 2023
Jordan's King Abdullah II had previously accused Iranian-linked militias of being behind drug smuggling operations across its shared border with Syria [Getty]

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi discussed drug smuggling from Syria into Jordan with his Iranian counterpart Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian during a phone call on Monday.

"Al-Safadi stressed that the kingdom was dealing with drug smuggling operations across the Syrian border as a threat to Jordan's national security and will take all necessary measures to defeat it," a readout of the call from the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The two also discussed measures to create a ceasefire in Gaza and secure the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid amid an intensifying Israeli military campaign that has left at least 20,000 Palestinians dead.

The phone call comes as Jordan faces a rising wave of drug smuggling across its northern border with Syria.

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In the last two weeks, drug smugglers have taken advantage of foggy and rainy weather to launch several attempts to bring narcotics across the Jordanian border. They have attacked Jordanian border guards, killing at least one and injuring two others.

In response, Jordan has engaged drug smugglers in gun battles, killing several, as well as launching pre-emptive air strikes on the houses of known drug dealers in southern Syria on 18 December.

The Jordanian army said it was committed to "firmly and decisively [countering] any attempts at the border to infiltrate or smuggle," and is continually posting pictures of seized narcotics and weapons.

Jordan is the main transit route for Syria's drug trade to the Arab Gulf, the most lucrative consumption market in the region. Syria is estimated to export around $5 billion USD worth of drugs annually, a number that dwarfs the country's annual government budget.

The Syrian government, Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias have long been accused of being behind the drug trade – a charge all parties deny.

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Jordan's King Abdullah previously said that the kingdom had faced "regular attacks on its borders by militias linked to Iran," and called for "a change of behaviour by Iran".

Jordan and other Arab countries have said that before relations with Syria were fully normalised, the Syrian regime would have to crack down on drug smuggling, among other demands.

However, there has been no reduction in drug exports from Syria since the demand was made in May.