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Security cooperation to counter risks, improve political relations

Jun 18,2023 - Last updated at Jun 18,2023

While the reintegration of Syria to the Arab League and the broader reconciliation should begin to assist the region in countering the threats from Syria, in particular the drug trafficking, there are still waves of drugs entering the surrounding countries, and Saudi Arabia only last week intercepted various attempts to smuggle captagon pills into the country.

The drug trafficking operations and associated networks have a long reach, making the narcotrafficking issue very complex. They have established a deep-rooted network spread across the region with many people involved and benefitting from the illegal trade. Smuggling techniques are constantly evolving, as these networks have become well-established and leverage support from outside the region with criminal groups who are quite experienced.

The development of these smuggling networks indicates a recognised structure and chain of command amongst these groups with a high possibility they will continue regardless of the change in position and reconciliation with Syria. They have acquired technologies to assist in their supply chains, as the recent incident of drones used to send drugs to Jordan from Syria, which will make countering their operations a long-term operation with different forms and dimensions. Still, it is important for Jordan to benefit from the Anti-Captagon Law approved by the US as it expands partnerships and expertise to directly target the networks and structures of these groups.

While regional cooperation is critical to counter these risks, Jordan still needs to implement a strategy that targets all the internal sources, dealers, smugglers and facilitators. The recent efforts in targeting the centre of drugs are important but this focus should be continuous and comprehensive. To guarantee the success of this approach in the long term, it is important to adopt a multilayered approach to the socioeconomic, political and security implications as all these elements are essential to guarantee effectiveness in addressing this critical challenge.

From a regional perspective, regional cooperation and intelligence sharing are critical to countering this risk, and the approach should mirror anti-terrorism cooperation. It is important to leverage the anti-terrorism capacity and experience to apply to the confrontation of criminal narcotrafficking groups, especially given there are clear links between the criminal groups and terrorist groups who share a mutually beneficial relationship.

It is important to realise that facing these challenges and risks requires greater regional cooperation, and that security cooperation can play a major role in improving political relations, which will undoubtedly improve regional relations and cooperation. Cooperation between Jordan and Saudi Arabia is also key, as the two countries face the same nature of risks and share wide geography and social ties, which can be transformed to real opportunities for the two countries.

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