AMMAN: The border crossing between Jordan and Syria is set to operate at full capacity from Aug. 1, following almost 10 years of complete and partial closure due to rising violence in Syria and the coronavirus pandemic.
Jordanian Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya recently announced that the Jaber-Nasib crossing will operate at full capacity after all technical and administrative arrangements were completed with the Syrian side.
Al-Faraya said that the decision came after directives from Prime Minister Bishr Khasawneh following his field visit to the crossing on July 8.
The minister added that a set of new measures will be implemented at the border crossing — located about 90 kilometers north of Amman — to increase passenger and cargo traffic between Jordan and Syria, including the cancellation of the back-to-back shipment protocol.
“This means that the Syrian trucks will continue their way to Saudi Arabia and other the Arab Gulf countries without anymore needing a Jordanian freight forwarder,” he said.
Al-Faraya added that the number of arrivals through the border crossing will be increased and that all nationalities will be allowed to leave Jordan through the border crossing with no prior approval from the interior ministry.
In April 2015, Jordan completely closed its border crossing with Syria as a result of escalating violence in the Syrian bordering town of Nasib, which, at the time, was reportedly captured by the Syrian rebels and fighters from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.
With Syrian government forces recapturing the southern regions and raising the country’s red-white-and-black flag above Nasib, Jordan reopened the crossing with Syria in October 2018, but only partially, and for a limited number of passengers and cargo traffic.
Following concerns of the crossing becoming a coronavirus hot spot, Jordanian authorities closed the country’s sole gateway into Syria in August 2020 to reopen it shortly afterward, but also at a limited capacity.
The Nasib crossing is the only functioning crossing between Jordan and Syria and is considered a vital economic artery for Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese traders and merchants.
Strategic analyst Amer Sabaileh said that Jordan “getting closer” to Syria has to do with Amman’s frustration with the international community’s inaction on Syria and its failure to resolve the ongoing crisis.
“After 10 years of crisis, nobody is offering solutions for the Syrian conflict and this puts more pressure on Jordan to start at least exploring for new opportunities to put an end to this crisis, because it is the most affected by its ongoing consequences, be they economic, security or social,” Sabaileh told Arab News.
Jordan is home to about 650,000 registered Syrian refugees, according to the UNHCR.
Asked whether Jordan’s emerging activism on Syria was approved by the US following King Abdullah’s visit to Washington, Sabaileh said: “These attempt were before his visit to the US, but the activism became more active after he returned home. If there was no green light given from the US, at least there was no rejection.”
Political commentator Shaqfiq Obeidat hailed Jordan’s decision to reopen the border crossing with Syria as “wise and historic,” and reflective of “brotherly ties” between Amman and Damascus.
Obeidat said that the reopening of the Jaber border crossing with Syria is in line with Jordan’s “unaltered position” on Syria which, he said, had always been to promote a comprehensive political solution to the ongoing conflict there.
Describing Syria as “Jordan’s northern gateway” to the world, Obeidat said that the reopening of the border crossing at full capacity will generate “immeasurable” contributions towards enhancing bilateral trade and increasing Jordanian exports to Syria, Lebanon and eastern Europe.