Saudi authorities announced a major drug bust on Wednesday. seizure of more than 8 million Captagon pills, at the time the kingdom is courting the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad to help in the fight against drug smuggling.
The latest raid came as Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia had offered Syria “proposed compensation that would come in relief for the loss of trade should it stop.”
He added that Riyadh had offered Assad “$4 billion, based on an estimate of the value of the trade.”
What happened: Saudi Arabia’s Directorate General for Narcotics Control said it seized more than 8 million Captagon pills hidden in a shipment of coffee creamer. Two Syrian residents and two Pakistani residents were arrested, as well as a Syrian with an expired visitor visa. Management did not say where the shipment was seized.
#Anti drug (8,280,078) narcotic amphetamine tablets were seized, hidden in a shipment of coffee creamer.#The_war_against_drugs#lurking pic.twitter.com/b2EU9zSVH3
– Anti-drugs (@Mokafha_SA) May 10, 2023
Saudi authorities are waging a constant battle against drug smuggling, particularly amphetamines and the related drug Captagon.
Why it matters: Wednesday’s raid comes as Arab governments press Syria to crack down on drug smuggling. Captagon has become a multibillion-dollar industry in war-torn Syria, and elements within the Syrian government are allegedly involved in the drug trade.
The Gulf countries, as well as Jordan and Lebanon, are important destinations for Captagon, partly due to high youth unemployment and other economic problems. As a result, Arab states link normalization to Syria to stem the flow of drugs. Last week, Jordan received Saudi and Syrian diplomats for discussions on Syria’s return to the Arab League. The officials discussed border security and drugs during the meeting.
Syria was readmitted to the Arab League on Sunday. Some observers have criticized the alleged Saudi proposal to pay Assad compensation of $4 billion, due to the alleged facilitation of the drug trade by the Syrian government.
By ‘buying’ Damascus for #captagonSaudi Arabia and other states are informally acknowledging the regime’s overwhelming agency and patronage over this illicit trade.
A very different approach from the accountability measures taken by the US, UK and EU. https://t.co/5mv8ekNEWU
— Carolina Rose (@CarolineRose8) May 10, 2023
Know more: A significant escalation in the regional drug war occurred on Monday, when Jordan reportedly carried out airstrikes in southern Syria. Strikes killed prominent Syrian drug trafficker Marai al-Ramthanas well as his wife and six children.