The Political Economy of the Nassib-Jaber Crossing
Before the war, the Nassib-Jaber crossing facilitated the movement of peoples, resources and ideas between Syria and Jordan. Once the Syrian Civil War began, the crossing—located on the Damascus—Amman Highway-was managed by the Regime. In April 2015, however, the Free Syrian Army and the al-Nusra front regained control of the crossing. As a result of one of the many offensives led to control southern Syria, the Regime recaptured the strategic route on Saturday, July 7th, 2018. The ownership of the Nassib border crossing was discussed in ceasefire talks led by the Russian government, which also focused on the movement of commercial vehicles between Syria and Jordan.
Before the war in Syria broke out, Jordan’s trade relationship with Syria was worth $500 million. Following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, trade ended and other revenues flowing into Jordan significantly decreased. With the crossing closed, Jordanian companies had to invest in maritime routes to transport products, which noticeably increased the price of goods. Even though Jordan is a free trade zone, this economic adjustment, in addition to the influx of refugees, intensified domestic and economic strain. The June 2018 protests throughout Jordan against tax increases and austerity measures showed the discontent among the Jordanian people.
Similarly, the civil war in Syria has destroyed the country’s economy. The demolition of schools, hospitals and infrastructures has hindered the Syrian economy and workforce in an unparalleled manner, and the World Bank reported over two million Syrians lost their jobs in the first four years of war. Furthermore, it is projected that the war caused a $226 million Gross Domestic Product (GDP) loss to the Syrian economy, as of July 2017. In addition to the repercussions of seven years of stagnated trade, loss of producers and consumers and minimal revenue, the reintegration of over five million Syrians refugees and over six million IDPs who decide to return into local economies is another layer to consider with the opening of the Nassib-Jaber crossing.
This new possibility would encourage economic transaction and growth, with the hopes of enriching the economies of not only Syria and Jordan but also the region. The Nassib-Jaber crossing is strategic for not only the security of the region but also economic prosperity; it is a significant checkpoint that enables movement from Turkey to the Arabian Peninsula via Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The possibility of economic growth and revitalized infrastructure is encouraging, especially in light of regional decreased government spending, low oil prices and instability.
Morgan Bedford is a Summer Associate at PDC.