Weekend long read

1) At WINEP, Saud Al-Sharafat explains ‘The Captagon War: Smuggling on the Jordanian-Syrian Border’.

“…the nature of smuggling has changed drastically over the past decade. During the 1990s, this cross-border smuggling was limited to livestock, cigarettes, and weapons. Today, however, this smuggling is focused on the transportation of drugs such as hashish, Captagon, crystal methamphetamine, and other illicit substances. The resulting development and expansion of drug smuggling activities—spreading out from war-torn Syria into the surrounding countries and region writ-large—has often been called the “Captagon War.” A major uptick in smuggling into Jordan has been recorded throughout 2022, even as Jordan has sought a rapprochement with the Assad regime. This uptick has left Jordanian security forces with the major challenge of securing its borders to stem the drug flow into the region and Europe while facing concurrent cross-border attacks from Iranian-backed militias.”

2) At the Moshe Dayan Center, Jesse Weinberg looks at ‘Syria’s Wheat Crisis’.

“According to the United Nations, Syria’s wheat production in 2021 has been estimated at around 1.05 million tons, down from 2.8 million in 2020, and only one quarter of the pre-civil war average of 4.1 million tons (during the period 2002-2011). This drastic decline in production was exacerbated by one of the worst harvests on record and has put Syria in a debilitating state. The result has led to rampant food insecurity impacting over sixty percent of the population, or 12 million people according to the UN and the World Food Programme. In response to decreased domestic supply this past year, Syria has had to import over one and a half million tons worth of Russian wheat following the signing of a bilateral trade deal in 2021.”

3) Jonathan Spyer discusses allegations that the Iranian regime is using Arab militiamen to surpass demonstrations.

“The use by the Iranian authorities of their loyal Arab allies to put down protests is in line with the broader pattern of behavior of the Iranian regime. Tehran routinely moves its various regional assets across its area of domain, based on where they can be useful. Thus, Lebanese Hezbollah operatives are long confirmed to be active in Yemen and Iraq. Afghani Shia fighters form an important part of Tehran’s war effort in Syria, and so on. It now appears that the regime is making use of its most loyal cohorts to crush the latest challenge to its authority, in Iran itself.”

4) UN Geneva has announced that the digitised League of Nations archives are now available to the public online.

“Between 2017 and 2022, with the support of a generous grant from a private Genevan foundation, the United Nations Library Geneva, Institutional Memory Section (IMS), launched a massive five-year project to digitize the entire League of Nations Archives, estimated to contain some 15 million pages of content. This project, called the Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives Project (LONTAD), will allow for the comprehensive study of this rich and unique collection and will help illuminate the diplomacy of the interwar period.”

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