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Saudi Arabia denies offering to compensate Syria in return for curbing drug trade

May 12, 2023 at 10:56 am

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir speaks during a news conference in Riyadh,Saudi Arabia on 15 November 2018 [Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images]

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied on Thursday media reports claiming Riyadh had proposed compensation to Syria, in return for curbing the “production and smuggling” of the amphetamine captagon, which the West and Arab states say is being exported around the region from Syria, Reuters reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, Reuters quoted a regional source close to Damascus and a Syrian source close to the Gulf with knowledge of contacts said Saudi Arabia, a big market for captagon, as saying that Riyadh had proposed compensation that would come as aid for the loss of the trade in the event it stops.  This came during the recent visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan to Damascus.

The regional source said Riyadh had offered $4 billion, based on an estimate of the value of the trade. The source added that “the money will be presented as agricultural aid,” while the Syrian source confirmed that Riyadh had proposed paying an amount as humanitarian aid, but he did not specify it.

However, on Thursday a source in the Saudi Foreign Ministry told Reuters that “the kingdom has not offered $4 billion to Syria.”

The Syrian regime and the Iranian militias supporting it, led by the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group, are a major source of producing and exporting narcotic captagon, which is one of their most important sources of funding.

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