Captagon News

As the Syrian Pound is going through its most stable period for six years, the Central Bank of Syria (CBS) has unified the exchange rate for remittances between local banks and money exchange companies in a bid to “streamline banking operations,” according to a CBS statement on June 13.
At the 33rd Arab League Summit, regional leaders ratified the need to continue the rapprochement process towards Damascus, but the summit concluded without any concrete economic or political concession towards Bashar Al-Assad’s government.
A visit by the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce to Saudi Arabia, initially scheduled for April 24, has been “postponed,” without a clear explanation, although a source close to the Syrian federation blamed elections at the Saudi Chamber of Commerce scheduled for this week.
In this interview, Dan Stoenescu, head of the European Union Delegation to Syria, delves into the current state of affairs in Syria, including the E.U.’s sanctions policy, the Arab normalisation process, European trade with Syria, the uptick in regional tensions, and captagon drug trafficking.
As captagon trade flourishes, the already dire security situation in Suweida governorate is reaching new lows and seeping into local businesses. Illustrating the power of local armed gangs, earlier this month, a group of armed men broke into the factory of Fresh Mountain Juice and looted the premises. Law enforcement is yet to make an act of presence while the armed men are still in control of the building, and shareholders are considering shutting down the factory.
The Israeli retaliation after the Hamas’ attack on October 7 has led to violent echoes in the region: from deadly flare-ups in the Lebanese-Israeli border, exchange of fire in southern Syria, Israel’s airstrikes at Damascus and Aleppo airports, to U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq targeted in drone attacks by Iranian affiliated groups. The announced Israeli ground invasion of Gaza could be an important turning point with regards to regional escalation as Iran and Hezbollah made the potential invasion their main red line.
Five months after Syria’s reinstatement in the Arab League, normalisation with Bashar Al-Assad seems to have yielded few Damascus concessions: captagon trade is surging, there is no sign of steps towards stabilisation, political reforms, or refugee return.
On September 14, police authorities in Dubai seized a shipment containing 86 million captagon tablets with an estimated street value of USD 1 billion. 
Amid limited progress in the normalisation with Damascus, two recent meetings between Yemeni and Syrian officials seem to signal Yemen’s bid to bolster a rapprochement process stalled since Damascus’ return to the Arab League in May.
On the occasion of recent protests in Suweida, the following is a background on Suweida, its demographics, geography, and the state of government and private investments in the governorate.
The Biden administration recently published a written strategy outlining aspects of its interagency plan to intercept and dismantle “illicit captagon networks linked to the Assad regime.” The plan also includes proposals to collaborate with affected countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, which has become the biggest market for the narcotic, according to recent investigations and reports. 
While Damascus’ rapprochement with the Arab World is accelerating, the United States and members of the European Union, among which France features prominently, still claim that their policy on Syria is unchanged. However, a growing number of French analysts have reported that powerful economic lobbies are pushing the French presidential palace to restore ties with the regime in the hope that France will reap economic benefits. The recent visit by a board member of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce to Paris only lends credence to these claims.
Although Jordan is at the forefront of rapprochement efforts with the regime, its air force allegedly launched two airstrikes over southern Syrian territory, killing an infamous drug lord and destroying a drug factory. The strikes came less than a week after Damascus agreed to tackle drug trafficking on its border with Jordan and Iraq and days after Amman seized its largest captagon shipment of the year.