Local leaders in southern Syria underestimated the impact of the sanctions imposed by the United States and Britain on Syrian figures involved in cooperating with the Syrian regime in the Captagon trade. They stressed that combating this phenomenon required a military force and the launching of development projects that would generate job opportunities for the residents.
In a statement on Tuesday, the US Treasury announced that it had imposed sanctions on six persons, of Syrian and Lebanese nationalities, and two companies tied with the Syrian regime and the Hezbollah militia. Among those is Imad Abu Zureik, a local leader in Daraa, who has played an important role enabling drug production and smuggling in southern Syria, according to the US Treasury.
Also, the British government announced Tuesday imposing sanctions on 11 entities linked to the Syrian regime, including three leaders of local groups. Two of them, Imad Abu Zureik and Mustafa al-Masalmeh, are from Daraa, and a third, Raji Falhout, from the Suweida governorate.
The statement noted that these figures were involved in the smuggling and manufacture of Captagon in southern Syria.
Commenting on the impact of the recent British and US announcements, a local leader told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The new sanctions, which targeted local personalities in southern Syria, do not seem to address the spread of drugs and the transformation of the south into a transit area for neighboring countries, for a number of reasons.”
“The sanctions targeted marginal personalities in the south, who are nothing but tools in the hands of influential security bodies.”
The local official, who had participated in the recent military operations against ISIS cells and drug dealers in the region, added: “Neither the US Administration nor the British government has the means of pressure to hand over or stop the persons mentioned above."
"In addition, those leaders do not have any interests, relations or property that connect them with neighboring countries that could be tools of pressure against them,” he noted.
He also explained that the solution required a military force that would have the confidence of all sides and the power and authority to dismantle the smuggling networks.
Moreover, the local leader stressed that social support must also be provided and recovery projects launched in the region to create job opportunities and generate an appropriate income to the unemployed and families.
“This requires joint efforts from society, the government and international organizations, and coordination and intensification of efforts to reach effective results,” he stressed.