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Syria Today – Jordan Accuses Syria of Spreading Drugs; Nasrallah Calls on Lebanon to Allow Refugees into Europe; Strike Kills 6

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Jordan Accuses Syria of Spreading Drugs; Nasrallah Calls on Lebanon to Allow Refugees into Europe; Strike Kills 6

On Sunday, October 1st, Jordan’s Interior Minister Mazen al-Faraya attributed the significant rise in drug trafficking cases in the kingdom to Syria, stating that the country had “minimal control” over its borders. Concurrently, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the pro-Iran group Hezbollah, urged Lebanon to cease hindering Syrians from migrating to the EU, citing a surge in migration from Syria. Additionally, a reported Israeli air strike in Syria resulted in the death of six pro-Iranian fighters in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor near the border with Iraq, according to a war monitor on Tuesday.

Khaled Khalifa: ‘Larger than life’ famed Syrian writer mourned

BBC’s Lina Sinjab, a close friend to the famed novelist Khaled Khalifa, wrote a tribute highlighting his life and death.  

The passing of renowned Syrian author Khaled Khalifa marks the end of an era and has left a profound impact on both the local and international literary communities. This heartfelt tribute to Khaled Khalifa offers insight into his life, his work, and his unwavering commitment to principles of freedom and justice. 

Sinjab shares a personal connection with Khaled Khalifa, having met him in Damascus in the early 1990s and become close friends. This personal connection adds authenticity and emotion to the tribute, giving readers a glimpse into the author’s deep respect and admiration for Khaled.

Khaled Khalifa’s career was diverse and successful. He initially gained recognition as a screenwriter, and later ventured into writing novels and TV series. His versatility as a writer is highlighted, along with his ability to bring characters to life.

Khalifa’s literary achievements are celebrated, including winning the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2013 and being nominated for the National Book Awards in the US. His works, such as “In Praise of Hatred” and “Death is Hard Work,” are acknowledged for their impact and international reach.

The tribute portrays Khaled Khalifa as having a larger-than-life personality, characterized by his exuberance and enthusiasm for life. His colorful character is brought to life through descriptions of his appearance, his approach to cooking, and his interactions with people.

Despite his fame, Khaled Khalifa remained principled and vocal about his stance against dictatorship and his support for freedom. His unwavering commitment to these principles is emphasized as a defining aspect of his character.

Khaled Khalifa’s optimism and hope for a better Syria, even in the face of adversity, are highlighted. His belief in the potential for positive change during the early days of the Syrian revolution reflects his enduring hope for a brighter future.

Khaled Khalifa’s deep love for Damascus, despite the challenges and destruction brought by the war, is a recurring theme. He considered the city his home and was reluctant to leave, even when offered opportunities abroad. His strong emotional connection to his homeland is evident.

The tribute underscores Khaled Khalifa’s enduring impact on people’s lives and his legacy as a writer with a unique way with words and a loving heart. His memory will live on through his work and the fond memories of those who knew him.

Sinjab paints a vivid and heartfelt picture of Khaled Khalifa, celebrating his literary contributions, his personality, and his unwavering commitment to his principles and his homeland. It serves as a touching homage to a celebrated author and a cherished friend.

Jordan accuses Syria of causing increase in kingdom’s drug cases

Jordan Interior Minister Mazen al-Faraya blamed Syria on Sunday, 1st of October, for being the main driver of the sharp increase in drug trafficking cases in the kingdom, saying the country had “minimal control” of its borders, The New Arab reported.

Al-Faraya said that drug trafficking cases were up by over a third this year in an interview with the Jordanian paper Ammon and that despite dialogue with the Assad regime, “its ability to control its borders is minimal.”

Drug trafficking cases in Jordan skyrocketed this year, government blames Syria.

Syrian regime estimated to earn over $5 billion per year from narcotics trade.

Jordan and other Arab countries unconvinced Syria is able to crackdown on the drug trade.

He added that Jordan has taken strict measures to police its side of the border and combat drug trafficking, having arrested 24,000 people this year in drug-related cases.

“Every truck that enters the Jaber crossing from Syria is assumed to be carrying drugs unless proven otherwise,” al-Faraya said, saying that they inspect every truck that enters the kingdom.

Drug trafficking across the Jordanian Syrian border has increased since mid-2021, with smugglers carrying large quantities of hashish, meth and the amphetamine captagon.

Smugglers use drones, physical transport and even hide drugs in vegetables and fruit on commercial trucks.

Hezbollah chief says Lebanon should not prevent Syrians from going to EU

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the pro-Iran group Hezbollah, said Lebanon should stop preventing Syrians from leaving Lebanon to the EU, as Lebanon experiences a surge in migration from Syria.

Nasrallah said that Lebanon should stop preventing Syrian refugees from leaving the country by sea and instead equip them with proper boats and help facilitate their passage to Europe.

“The European Countries will come running to Beirut, to the Serail, and ask the government: ‘What do you want to stop this migration of refugees towards Europe?'” Nasrallah said.

The speech came as Lebanon experienced a huge uptick of Syrians crossing the border into the country, seeking to escape the violence of the Assad regime and the worsening economic conditions in Syria.

The Lebanese army has called for increased resources and soldiers to address the surge, as it said the 394-kilometer border with Syria is currently impossible to guard.

Nasrallah claimed that the US is responsible for displacing Syrian refugees, blaming US sanctions for undermining the Syrian economy.

“If the Caesar [Sanctions] Act is lifted and the doors are opened to investments, hundreds of thousands of Syrians will return to their country,” Nasrallah said.

‘Probable’ Israel strike kills six Syria fighters: monitor

A “probable Israeli air strike” on Syria killed six pro-Iranian fighters in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor near the border with Iraq, a war monitor said Tuesday.

Separately, the Syrian defense ministry said an Israeli strike on army positions elsewhere in the province had wounded two soldiers late on Monday.

“Six pro-Iranian fighters were killed in a probable Israeli strike” on Monday evening, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Israeli strikes targeted “three sites belonging to Iran-backed groups” close to the border city of Albu Kamal, the Britain-based monitor said.

Militias linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have a heavy presence across Syria, especially around the border with Iraq.

During more than a decade of conflict in Syria, neighboring Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its territory, targeting Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions.

Separately, the Syrian defense ministry said that shortly before midnight (2100 GMT) on Monday, an Israeli air strike had wounded two soldiers near the city of Deir Ezzor.

“The Israeli enemy carried out air strikes on some of our armed forces’ positions near the city of Deir Ezzor,” leaving “two soldiers wounded,” a ministry statement said.

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes it carries out on targets in Syria, but it has said repeatedly that it will not allow its arch foe Iran to expand its presence.

Last month, Israeli air strikes killed two soldiers on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, state media said.

In March, US strikes on Iran-linked groups in eastern Syria killed 19 people, including both Iran-backed fighters and Syrian soldiers, the Observatory said.

The war in Syria has killed more than half a million people since it broke out in 2011, following the bloody repression of pro-democracy protests.

It quickly escalated into a broader conflict that pulled in jihadists and foreign powers.

Hunger at home haunts Syria’s international outreach efforts

Columnist Zaid Belbagi wrote an op-ed for The Arab News, in which he discusses the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, particularly the issue of hunger, amidst the backdrop of Syria’s diplomatic reengagement with the international community. 

The article highlights that Syria is facing a severe humanitarian crisis, with over 90 percent of the population living below the poverty line. This dire situation has been exacerbated by spiraling inflation, food shortages, and a 532 percent increase in food prices over two years.

The economic crisis in Syria is mentioned as one of the main drivers of the hunger problem. The government’s decision to cut fuel subsidies, doubling the cost of gasoline, has led to widespread protests. Additionally, the economic challenges are compounded by external factors like the conflict in Ukraine and economic crises in neighboring Lebanon and Turkey.

The article underscores the challenges in delivering humanitarian aid to Syria. It points out that Syria ranks among the world’s most dangerous places for aid workers due to attacks on humanitarian personnel and deliberate targeting of aid facilities. In 2021, only 15 percent of the requested aid was delivered, highlighting the difficulty in providing assistance.

The article highlights how both the Syrian government and opposition factions have imposed sieges on certain territories, making it difficult for supplies to reach affected populations. Additionally, border closures due to security concerns have further restricted access to necessities.

Climate change is mentioned as a contributing factor to the food crisis in Syria. Unprecedented warming, droughts, and decreased rainfall have negatively affected agriculture. Arable land has halved, and wheat production could cease altogether. These climate complexities have compounded the food crisis.

The author emphasizes that any foreign efforts to support Syria must be conditional upon the government’s compliance with the delivery of aid. The politicization of aid and the deliberate targeting of critical infrastructure have worsened the plight of Syrians, making their well-being a crucial consideration in political rapprochement.

Overall, the article paints a grim picture of the humanitarian situation in Syria, where hunger and poverty are widespread, exacerbated by economic challenges, conflict-related issues, and climate change. It also highlights the need for international assistance to prioritize the well-being of the Syrian people amid ongoing diplomatic efforts to engage with the country.

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