The Jordanian-Syrian border

- It is no exaggeration if we say that the joint Syrian-Jordanian border, which is more than 365 kilometers long, is witnessing these days a muffled confrontation between Syria and Jordan, due to the increase in drug and arms smuggling from the northern neighbor towards Jordanian territory.

Senior Jordanian sources tell Al Jazeera Net that the border, which has always caused tension between Amman and Damascus, is witnessing today the most severe tension between the two countries since the outbreak of the revolution in Syria in 2011.

The sources - who stipulated not to be mentioned - add that the Jordanian border guards were in the past facing on their northeastern flank with Syria small groups of arms and drug smugglers, but today they are facing huge and trained groups, guarded by armed militias.

One of the Jordanian sources spoke very cautiously to Al Jazeera Net, after he asked not to be named, saying, "It is certain that today we are facing the Fourth Division of the Syrian army led by Maher al-Assad (brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad), in addition to Shiite militias loyal to Iran."

Sources for Al Jazeera Net: Jordan faces smugglers guarded by armed militias backed by the Fourth Division of the Syrian Army (Al Jazeera)

False accusations and accusations

The same source considered that the political, military and security decision kitchen in Amman does not want to direct explicit accusations against Damascus, in light of the political rapprochement that intensified between the two countries late last year, and culminated in the announcement of a phone call between Bashar al-Assad and King Abdullah II of Jordan, preceded by a series Meetings between Syrian and Jordanian officials in the Jordanian capital.

There are those close to the Jordanian decision-making circles, who believe that the Syrian president did not want that confrontation, and that he might lose control of the faction led by his brother.

Al Jazeera Net toured the borders of the two countries, and reached the Jordanian military region called Balwash, which is the closest border point between the two neighbors, and monitored the atmosphere of tension and unmistakable caution, in addition to the strict Jordanian military measures in that region.

On that tour, the Director of Military Information in the Jordanian Army, Colonel Mustafa Al-Hiyari, for the first time before a number of journalists, made public accusations against Syrian official bodies, saying that the armed forces “possess pictures and evidence confirming the involvement of some Syrian outposts on the borders, along with organized militias, in facilitating the tasks of arms smugglers.” and drugs."

Al-Hiyari added that his country "was engaged in an undeclared war with smugglers and those behind them."

Jordanian King Abdullah II visited the eastern military region on the Jordanian-Syrian border and told the soldiers: "I want to see Al-Ain Al-Hamra from you" (Reuters)

Red eye

The military commander's speech came two days after King Abdullah's visit to the border front, during which he inspected the military situation there.

The king appeared in his military uniform, speaking to the border guards, telling them, "I want to see the red eye from you."

The King's visit seemed to carry many crucial messages to the other side.

The Jordanian army had announced that the border with Syria would be provided with additional infantry battalions, light vehicles, and reconnaissance units equipped with surveillance cameras, in addition to medium and heavy artillery units.

He also talked about an intense intelligence effort backed by thermal devices and sensors along the border.

The Jordanian army: We have killed 30 smugglers and seized more than 17 thousand hashish and 16 million narcotic pills since the beginning of 2022 (Al-Jazeera)

Weapons and drugs in large quantities

The Jordanian Armed Forces revealed earlier that an officer was killed and 3 members of the border guards were wounded by smugglers' fire, who withdrew into the Syrian depth. It also confirmed the killing of 30 smugglers since the beginning of the year, and the seizure of more than 17,000 hashish and 16 million narcotic pills.

A senior official in the Jordanian army revealed to Al Jazeera Net that the recently seized quantities are estimated at one third of the quantities seized over the past year, which indicates a high rate of smuggling at the borders.

In 2021, it was announced that about 361 infiltration and smuggling attempts from Syria to Jordan had been thwarted, and nearly 15.5 million drug pills and 760 kilograms of hashish were seized.

Another Jordanian source confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that his country had informed the Syrian side of the details of the challenges at the border with Syria, during the visit of the Syrian Minister of Defense to Amman months ago, followed by sending decisive Jordanian messages to the Syrians that, if they did not act, we would protect our borders, and based on those messages There was a temporary and intermittent seizure of smuggling operations by the Syrian side.

Jordan says its forces have changed the rules of engagement on Syria's borders after the surge in smuggling waves (Al-Jazeera)

Change the rules of engagement

The source pointed out that the Syrian side's laxity on the borders prompted the Jordanian armed forces to change the rules of engagement, and to deal with anyone who approaches the kingdom's borders as a legitimate target for killing and destruction.

Former Jordanian Prime Minister Abd al-Raouf al-Rawabdeh said - in remarkable statements during a seminar held in one of the research centers in Amman - that "the Jordanian state is trying to create a new relationship with the Syrian brothers because it has a bilateral interest for both parties, and this interest will not be completed unless the northern border is opened with Turkey".

Rawabdeh: What is happening on the Jordanian-Syrian borders at the moment is not arranged by the Syrian regime, but rather it is forces inside the Syrian state that are outside it (Al-Jazeera)

Hezbollah and forces inside Syria

He added, "I think that what is happening on the Jordanian-Syrian borders at present is not arranged by the Syrian regime, but rather it is forces inside the Syrian state that are outside it, encouraging smugglers supported by certain parties."

He added, "The quantities of weapons and drugs and the methods used on the borders cannot be described as smuggling. It is shameful to put them in this context. There are parties or countries that are actually involved in what is going on."

Al-Rawabdeh considered that those parties "do not want the Jordanian-Syrian meeting to actually take place."

For his part, the retired general from the Jordanian army and expert in military affairs, Fayez Al-Duwairi, accused the Lebanese Hezbollah, some militias close to Iran, and the Fourth Division of being behind the smuggling of drugs and weapons into the kingdom.

Al-Duwairi told Al-Jazeera Net, "We are not saying that the Syrian regime is the one who carries out smuggling, but those who do this are parties linked to the regime, which are like gangs within the Syrian system, smuggling drugs to illegally reap money and wealth."

He added, "Smuggling has moved from infiltrating through the valleys to shooting towards Jordanian control points to occupy them."

According to Al-Duwairi, "It is not possible to predict what will happen in the next stage, as things may take an escalating turn."