Hundreds of Syrian trucks carrying fresh products destined for the Gulf states have been stuck at the border between Syria and Jordan since early August, due to a new Saudi law that affects cargo vehicles. The law, which was issued in July, requires all trucks entering Saudi Arabia to have a tracking device installed, apparently to prevent the smuggling of the synthetic drug Captagon.
Captagon, also known as fenethylline, is a stimulant that is widely used by fighters and civilians in war-torn Syria. It is also a lucrative source of income for the Syrian regime and its allies, who produce and export the drug to the Gulf and other regions. According to the United Nations, Syria accounted for more than 70% of the global seizures of Captagon in 2019.
The new Saudi law has caused a bottleneck at the Nassib border crossing, which is the main gateway for Syrian trucks to transit through Jordan and reach the Gulf markets. According to some truck drivers, more than 1,250 vehicles have been waiting at the border for weeks, some of them carrying perishable goods such as fruits and vegetables.
The Jordanian authorities have denied imposing any restrictions on the Syrian trucks, saying that the delay is due to the customs procedures and the lack of tracking devices. They have also said that they are working with the Saudi side to find a solution to the problem.
However, some Syrian truck owners have accused Jordan of deliberately blocking their vehicles to favor its own exports to the Gulf. They have also claimed that Jordan is imposing high fees and taxes on the Syrian trucks, as well as demanding them to swap their cargo into Jordanian vehicles.
The Syrian government has not commented on the issue, but it has reportedly allowed the Syrian trucks to transit through Jordan without swapping their cargo since August 15. This arrangement had previously enabled the transportation of goods to the Gulf countries, which did not allow Syrian vehicles to enter their territory.
The Syrian truckers have appealed to both the Syrian and Jordanian governments to intervene and resolve the crisis, which is affecting their livelihoods and causing losses for both countries. They have also urged the Saudi authorities to reconsider their law or provide them with the necessary tracking devices.