The Syrian regime hopes to reopen a vital trade lifeline via the Naseeb crossing. AFP
- Jordan is the crossroads between Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Europe to Saudi Arabia and other countries
- Jordanian projects in south Syria, including universities and other sectors, will soon open
AMMAN: News that Syrian regime troops have reached the Naseeb crossing point with Jordan has revived the hopes of thousands of Jordanian transport workers.
Khaled Mirai’, a driver working the Amman-Damascus-Beirut route, told Arab News that the past six years had been disastrous for his family.
“If the borders are open and we are certain it is safe, I will be the first in line ready to resume my work,” said Mirai’.
The driver said his income had fallen dramatically in past years.
“My financial situation went back 85 percent because of the sudden loss of work. I used to do at least one run a day from Amman to Beirut and back. On one day I did five trips between Amman and Damascus. Since the violence began we have lost our main work and have had no access to regular income. We have had to compete with thousands on the route to Saudi Arabia, which has been crowded after the Iraqi and Syrian borders closed.”
Abu Khaled, who runs the Safriat Al-Sham (Damascus Transport) in Amman’s Abdali area, said that before the civil war in Syria almost 1,000 taxis were transporting people between the two countries.
“I am also hearing that things will return, but I am not sure — it will take some time before the road is safe.”
Abu Ali Basahabshe, a truck driver who has worked on the Jordan-Syria line for years, said he expects the flow of goods to return within months.
“Jordan is the crossroads between Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Europe to Saudi Arabia and other countries. Using the roads is much cheaper than having to send goods by sea through the Suez Canal, so I expect a speedy return of movement in both directions within months, but no later than the end of the year,” he said.
Jawad Anani, former deputy prime minister and foreign minister in Jordan, said that what is happening on the Syrian borders is good news for Jordan.
“We have been expecting this for some time. Syrians have wanted us to open the borders from our side unilaterally, but Jordan had no way of guaranteeing safe conduct for people and goods. The Syrians will be even more interested in opening things up, especially in south Syria.”
Anani, now president of the Jordan Economic and Social Council, said that both sides have an interest in the crucial land artery being open.
“For security, all sides have to make sure it is working well.”
He said that many countries have contributed to the present situation.
“Jordan’s role in ending the conflict and the meetings with Russian leadership shows that there is consensus even in the West on resuming life with Syria and opening the borders.
“I think it will not take a long time before a variety of things start moving,” he said.
“Jordanian projects in south Syria, including universities and other sectors, will soon open. Also, if the road to Damascus is open and safe, Jordanian banks will reopen in Syria, which will provide the Syrian government with badly needed signs of normalization.”
Anani said that he is certain most refugees will return to their homes once the situation is safe.
“Syria has potential on multiple levels. They have land and water, and if the area is safe, most refugees will return.”