Why did Egypt join the joint contact cell to combat drug smuggling from Syria?

A meeting between the Egyptian and Jordanian ministers of interior discussed the mechanism of Jordan's anti-drug smuggling efforts - February 26, 2024 (Ammoun News Agency)

A meeting between the Egyptian and Jordanian ministers of interior discussed the mechanism of Jordan's anti-drug smuggling efforts - February 26, 2024 (Ammoun News Agency)


The quadrilateral cell for combating drug smuggling at the regional level, which was originally established following a meeting of the ministers of interior from Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Syrian regime, has recently expanded to become a pentagonal cell with the joining of Egypt.

On February 26, the Jordanian Minister of Interior, Mazen Al-Faraya, met with his Egyptian counterpart, Mahmoud Tawfik, on the sidelines of the Arab Interior Ministers’ meeting in Tunisia, where the two sides discussed security cooperation between their countries and ways to enhance it, especially in the field of exchanging expertise and capacity building.

The Jordanian Ammoun News Agency reported that the Egyptian Interior Minister welcomed Egypt’s joining the joint contact cell through future coordination with the Jordanian side, discussing the necessary arrangements in this regard, and commending the level of cooperation between security services in the field of combating drugs, and the exchange of expertise and visits between both sides.

Expanding smuggling activity

After the announcement of the cell’s expansion, the Jordanian Public Security Directorate, on February 27, announced results of drug seizure operations in various areas of Jordan and on the borders with Syria.

The spokesperson for the directorate said that the anti-drug personnel dealt with 12 quality cases in different regions of the Jordanian kingdom within a few days, arresting 23 people involved in drug dealing, promoting, and smuggling.

At the Jaber border center opposite the Nassib crossing in Syria, security forces thwarted an attempt to smuggle two kilograms of crystal meth and arrested the smuggler. They also foiled another attempt to smuggle 70,000 narcotic pills and arrested the involved smuggler, according to the spokesperson.

Foundation of the cell

The Jordanian Minister of Interior announced on February 17 the establishment of a joint contact cell that includes liaison officers from Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, dedicated to exchanging expertise about drug smuggling operations.

Al-Faraya stated, after the meeting that brought together the interior ministers of the four parties in Amman, that everyone recognizes the serious problem of drugs, and while countries are working at the national level to deal with this phenomenon, without joint coordinated efforts by the convened states there will be no results as hoped.

The Jordanian Minister added, “The most important thing we agreed upon is the recognition of the problem and the agreement on the need to continue these meetings at the ministerial and technical levels, and establishing a joint contact cell with liaison officers from different countries concerned with exchanging expertise, training, and tracking information on shipments from states to their final destinations.”

The day after talks about forming the quadrilateral cell, five smugglers were killed and four others were wounded during an attempt to smuggle large quantities of drugs from Syria to Jordan.

The Jordanian army said at the time that military security forces and the Drug Enforcement Administration thwarted a smuggling operation of large quantities of drugs coming from Syrian territory, noting that the operation resulted in the death of five smugglers and wounding four others, and that the authorities seized the contraband and transferred it to the competent authorities.

The impact

Jordanian strategic security expert, Dr. Omar Basha al-Raddad, considered Egypt’s joining the cell as a matter linked to a political decision more than a technical issue, especially since the drug control issue in Egypt is not directly related to the four countries. Egypt is a partner and plays an effective role in the political contact committee emanating from the resolutions of the Arab Summit on May 19, 2023.

According to al-Raddad, the possibilities of future clashes between the Jordanian army and smuggling networks and militias on the border with Syria are likely, and with the current scenarios, targeting leaders of smuggling militias inside Syria and engaging with these militias once they enter Jordanian territory remain dependent on the activity of these militias, as Jordan’s war on drugs is defensive.

The Jordanian expert also doubted that the meeting of interior ministers in Amman would end the drug war, considering that Jordan wanted to send a message that it is looking for coordination with neighboring countries, while it was clear that the Syrian regime’s government wanted to send a message that still needs to be examined, that it wants to coordinate with Amman in combating drugs.


Jordan relies on the possibility of the emergence of serious signs of drug control within the Syrian government, and there are other parties benefiting from smuggling tied to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Omar Basha al-Raddad – Jordanian Strategic Security Expert


The actions taken by Jordan and the commitments presented by Damascus, and their results on the ground, will be evidence of the Syrian authorities’ directions and a new test of their ability to translate their commitments, especially since investigations with leaders and smuggling networks from Syria have revealed evidence placing Syrian official circles in a position of irrefutable accusations, according to al-Raddad.

Tension arising from strikes, Promotion of drug control

A state of tension emerged between Amman and Damascus after the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s statement on January 23, which criticized the Jordanian strikes on locations and points in southern Syria as part of efforts to combat drug smuggling from Syria to Jordan.

The statement considered the Jordanian strikes unjustified and referred to what it claimed was the influx of tens of thousands of “terrorists” and massive amounts of weapons from neighboring countries, including Jordan, which was followed by an official Jordanian rejection of any insinuations that the Jordanian borders were ever a source of threat to Syrian security.

The spokesperson for the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sufyan Qudah, mentioned that Amman had provided the “Syrian government” during the “joint committee” meetings with the names of smugglers and the entities behind them, and with the locations of drug manufacturing and storage facilities and their smuggling routes under its control, but no real action was taken to neutralize this threat, noting that smuggling attempts saw a “dangerous increase” in their number.

This part was a response and denial to the claims made in the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s statement, accusing Jordan of non-cooperation and speaking about messages from officials in the regime to their Jordanian counterparts, which did not receive a response or action.

While drug smuggling operations from Syria continue on a regional scale towards neighboring countries such as Jordan and the Gulf Arab states amid efforts to curb it, the Syrian regime is promoting drug control by announcing the arrest of “involved” individuals in drug trafficking and local promotion, through publications by its Ministry of Interior.

One of the latest announcements came on February 27, when the ministry said it arrested seven people in Aleppo for engaging in drug use and trafficking.

In response to the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s statement, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on January 23, citing unnamed Jordanian sources, that the official Syrian statement came “as a justification for the failure of the regime’s institutions, and their lack of seriousness in implementing what was agreed upon during the security meetings that started since last summer.”


النسخة العربية من المقال

Propaganda distorts the truth and prolongs the war..

Syria needs free media.. We need your support to stay independent..

Support Enab Baladi..

$1 a month makes a difference..

Click here to support