| 25 May 2024, Saturday |

Fahmy inspects Beirut port, Masnaa border crossing amid Saudi import ban

The caretaker Lebanese Minister of Interior, Mohamad Fahmy, inspected the Beirut port on Friday after paying a surprise visit to Al Masnaa border crossing where he toured the general security and customs center and inspected the shipping area where the scanners are installed.

Fahmy said on Wednesday that Lebanon will work to combat drug smuggling to prevent further disruptions in relations with Saudi Arabia, asking “friendly countries” to help purchase scanners to inspect goods at at Lebanon’s ports and the border with Syria.

The caretaker government announced on Sunday that Lebanon has detained two brothers suspected of being involved in a foiled attempt to smuggle amphetamines into Saudi Arabia that prompted the Saudi authorities to impose a ban on importing Lebanese produce.

The kingdom announced the ban on April 23 after the discovery of 5.3 million Captagon pills, a type of amphetamine, hidden in pomegranate shipments from Lebanon.

Fahmy was speaking in an interview with Lebanon’s MTV broadcaster during a tour of the border area from the north to the Bekaa valley where there is rampant smuggling across the border with Syria, of goods from drugs to fuel and subsidized food.

“We have uncovered those complicit and a follow-up of the case is ongoing,” Fahmy said.

Lebanon was in contact with Saudi authorities on the course of the investigations.

Fahmy said there was no evidence that Lebanon’s powerful Shi’ite Hezbollah group was in involved in the case. Hezbollah has long been accused by the United States and its regional foes of links to a multi-million global drug trade in Lebanon and Syria to finance its military operations.

The pro-Iranian militia controls the border area and its fighters move freely across the frontier to fight alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Syria is believed to be one of the biggest producers and exporters of counterfeit Captagon, a popular drug among affluent youths in the Middle East particularly the Gulf.

  • Reuters
  • Sawt Beirut International