Israel and Jordan Should Cooperate to Stop Syria’s Deadly Drug Trade

A powerful, dangerous, and addictive stimulant popular among Islamic State fighters and Gulf state partygoers, Captagon has in recent years become the major export of war-torn Syria. Last month, Israel caught smugglers trying to bring a large amount of the drug into its borders. Jordan, meanwhile—after largely restoring diplomatic and commercial relations with Damascus to their pre-civil-war state—has become one of the major markets for the pills, with socially deleterious results. Natalie Ecanow explores the dangers, and what can be done:

Regional seizure data from 2021 valued the Captagon trade at over $5.7 billion, eclipsing the total value of Syria’s legal exports combined. The profits are pumped straight into the coffers of Bashar al-Assad and his cronies, providing a financial lifeline to an otherwise economically moribund regime. According to the former U.S. special envoy for Syria, “the Assad regime would not survive the loss of the Captagon revenues.”

Rather than normalizing [relations] with the region’s biggest drug pusher, Washington should make clear that regional cooperation in countering narcotics is a better approach. The administration can leverage the structures of the Abraham Accords to develop a regional strategy for combatting the Captagon trade and expand the partnership between Israel and the Gulf. This could include establishing processes for law enforcement to exchange information outside of INTERPOL, which Syria rejoined in 2021. Jordan’s International Police Training Center can house a multilateral interdiction center to help provide real-time information on smuggling operations.

The shared threat of Captagon also gives Israel and Jordan reason to [breathe some life into] their often cold and tenuous peace. And, as policymakers anticipate bringing Saudi Arabia into the Abraham Accords, Washington should remind the region that Jerusalem and Riyadh both care deeply about the stability of Jordan, which the Assad-linked narcotics trade threatens to undermine.

Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Abraham Accords, Drugs, Israeli Security, Jordan, Syria

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus