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Syria, Jordan Officially Reopen Border Crossing


People wait to cross into Syria at Jordan's Jaber border crossing checkpoint, near Syria's Naseeb checkpoint, near Mafraq, Jordan, Oct. 15, 2018.
People wait to cross into Syria at Jordan's Jaber border crossing checkpoint, near Syria's Naseeb checkpoint, near Mafraq, Jordan, Oct. 15, 2018.

The al-Naseeb border crossing between Jordan and Syria officially reopened Monday after a three year closure. More than 7,000 trucks used to make the crossing between Syria and Jordan daily before the passage was forced to close in 2015. Observers on both sides expressed hopes the reopening would help improve the economies in both countries.

Trucks began crossing into Jordan from Syria for the first time since the al-Naseeb border passage was closed due to fighting in 2015. Syrian government forces recaptured the passage in August, but lengthy procedural discussions delayed the crossing's official reopening until Monday.

Economic observers said the border passage generated nearly $600 million in trade yearly before war in Syria began in 2011. More than 7,000 trucks were estimated to have crossed between the two countries daily.

Naseeb and Quneitra crossings, Syria
Naseeb and Quneitra crossings, Syria

Mohammed al-Sawaa, head of the Syrian exporters' union, told journalists at the crossing its reopening is vital to the Syrian economy.

He points to a truck carrying citrus from Latakiya which is entering Jordan and says fresh fruits were one of the most important exports of Syria, along with canned fruits and vegetables. The Gulf States, Jordan and Iraq, he insists, depend on Syria and Syria depends on them.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said in Damascus the reopening of the Naseeb border crossing was a major event for the people of Syria and Jordan.

He says terrorists used to control [Syria's] border crossings and the countries that supported these groups wanted to keep the crossings closed. He stresses it is in the interest of the peoples of both Syria and Jordan to reopen them, regardless of political considerations or past animosities.

American University of Beirut political science professor Hilal Khashan tells VOA reopening the border is a major political milestone on the road to recovery for Syria.

"I would compare the reopening of the border crossing [between Syria and Jordan] to President Sadat of Egypt's decision to reopen the Suez Canal in 1975. The reopening of the Suez Canal ended the state of belligerency and put Israel and Egypt on the path to peace-making. And the reopening of this border crossing between Syria and Jordan will also usher in, sooner than later, the end of the conflict in Syria and the beginning of its reconstruction."

Arab media also reported U.N. peace-keepers officially took control of the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria, as well. Syria's main border crossing with Iraq at Albukamel remains in the hands of U.S.-backed Kurdish forces and is closed due to fears of Iran using it to smuggle weapons into the region.