The Jordanian government has not made any formal request to sit at the negotiating table with the Syrian side to establish a mechanism to reopen the crossing point despite previous statements indicating the readiness of the Jordanian and Syrian sides to reopen the crossing of Naseeb-Jaber.
Yet, it is likely that the strategic crossing point would be partially open soon due to the recent developments in South of Syria and the visits of Jordanian businessmen that have paved the way for resuming trade ties via the crossing.
The Syrians have completed the maintenance of the international highway between Damascus to Dera’a and the Syrian-Jordanian border after removing rubble and war debris in preparation for opening the border crossing to export and import movement.
Two conflicting streams in Jordan
Syria politicizes border opening
The crossing is a lifeline for both countries’ economies and a gateway to long-standing relations. It is in the interests of both countries and people to open the crossing and restore trade in a way to revive relations between the two brethren states at all levels.Shehab Al Makahleh
The Syrian side, whose forces are still working to clear the southern areas of the remnants of terrorist groups, is organizing its security and political presence in Dara’a province, which has been out of government for seven years. As for Syria, it seems that the opening of the crossing must take place in the context of a package of political normalization and security understandings.
There is no problem for Jordan in terms of understandings and security arrangements, and channels of communication in this field are open anyway but Jordan has political caveats, which are linked to Amman’s openness to Damascus.
What slows down the opening is merely technical. Experts from both sides are currently assessing the means to streamline trade exchange. Some Jordanian politicians believe that there is no political obstacle to the opening of border crossings with Syria in the near future because it is a mutual interests to restore the momentum of economic relations that help bail out Jordanian economy which is suffering a major recession at present.
The Jordanian side has the right, as it did with Iraq, to request security guarantees for the movement of its citizens on the road between the Syrian borders and cities, and to ensure that the conditions of the land transport service are available at the crossing. These are manageable conditions. The two governments and the competent security agencies should go ahead with these measures because any security threat or incident would nip all bids to fix political and economic ties in the bud.
From the Jordanian side, there are many issues that need understandings, mostly resulting from years of war and Syrian asylum, as well as the return of refugees, which is of interest to both countries. Any anticipated return of Syrian refugees from Jordan will be through the crossing and in a legitimate manner and in full coordination with the Syrian government.
At the same time, Jordan has a legitimate concern about the infiltration of terrorists through the crossing camouflaged under Syrian passengers. Amman fears that Syrians would enter the Jordanian territory in greater numbers for economic and trade activities.
These issues should be addressed by both countries as the opening of the crossing will be a prelude to a new era in bilateral relations between both governments. This is the difference between the state and people’s perspective vi-a-vis opening the borders.