On January 21st, Jordan reopened its main border crossing with Syria, a key Middle East trade route, after keeping it closed for three years, an AFP photographer reported.
The border gate was opened at 8:00 AM local time, while more than a dozen police officers and customs officials stood nearby.
Several cars with Jordanian license plates lined up to enter Syria, with travelers expressing their joy at being able to cross the border, the photographer reported.
“Today is a celebration for us and I wanted to be among the first to cross the border,” said Syrian businessman Mohammed Hisham, who resides in Jordan.
Jordanian taxi driver Imad Sariheen called the reopening of Jaber a source of “great happiness for all of us” which will help ease “economic hardships” caused by the closure of the crossing.
“Our conditions have worsened over the past years. Our work (driving taxis) was halted because of the closure of the border between Jordan and Syria,” he added.
The reopening came after Syrian government forces took control of their side of the crossing in July 2018 under a Moscow-brokered deal with the militants.
Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat announced the intended reopening of the Jaber crossing on January 20th. Syria’s Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar also confirmed the decision to reopen Jaber on the same day.
According to an agreement between Jordan and Syria, the traffic of goods and passengers would resume daily between 8:00 and 16:00 local time.
Syria also requested for Jordan to send an expert to help with border checks at Nassib where there are no X-ray machines, under the agreement.
“The accord stipulated that travellers entering Jordan from Syria “must obtain prior to their trip a security permit” from Jordanian authorities.
And those who plan to use Jordan as a transit stop en route to a third country must show proof of their residency permit in Syria as well as an entry visa to the country they plan to visit.”
Arab News also reported that Jordan decided to upgrade diplomatic ties with Syria.
According to a unnamed foreign ministry spokesman, an unnamed Jordanian diplomat with the ranking of advisor will begin work again at the Jordanian embassy in Damascus.
“The decision is inline with the Jordanian stance since the Syrian revolution erupted in 2011,” the spokesman said.
This follows a similar move from the UAE, which in December reopened its embassy in Damascus after seven years.
Sudan president, Omar Al-Bashir, became the first Arab leader to visit Damascus when he traveled there in December.
Furthermore, there is speculation that Saudi Arabia and others support the notion of allowing Syria back into the Arab League.