Jordan has asked the United States to provide manned U.S. surveillance aircraft to help keep an eye on its border with Syria, Reuters reported General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, as saying during his visit to the kingdom on Wednesday.
“Here in Jordan, in particular, they’re interested in what we can do to help them see and secure their very long border with Syria,” Dempsey said, adding that Jordan also sought American advice on how to better integrate different sources of intelligence to bolster the country’s national security.
Dempsey said that he had asked what further support the U.S. could give to Jordan which is considered a key ally, and stated that manned “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” (ISR) aircraft were among the items discussed.
“There’s a process that we have for those kind of formal requests and I’ll take it back with me to Washington,” he said.
The United States has already deployed F-16 fighters and Patriot missile defenses, along with about 1,000 U.S. troops to reduce the risk of the Syrian conflict spilling over into Jordan.
The kingdom is Dempsey’s second and last stop on a trip to the Middle East which started Monday in Israel.
Jordan has previously asked for international help after receiving an influx of more than a half a million refugees from Syria.
No discussion on intervention
During a meeting held between Dempsey and King Abdullah, the issue of military intervention in Syria was not raised nor the question of U.S. lethal support to Syrian rebels, according to the former. In the United States debates are ongoing about the merits of any direct military intervention in the conflict ravaged country.
“We didn’t talk about direct military intervention. That actually never came up,” Dempsey said. “What did come up were discussions about what we could do to help them build their capability and capacity.”
Washington gave the green light to provide vetted Syrian rebels with lethal weapons in July but it is not clear if the opposition fighters have received any such weapons thus far.
Dempsey alluded to the complexity of the Syrian issue and stated that there are no clear two sides in the conflict.
“What the people who live in the region very clearly see is that this is not about choosing one side or the other. It’s about choosing potentially one side amongst several others,” he said. “So I think it’s that degree to which the complexity becomes clearer the closer you get to it.”
Iraq, also Jordan’s neighbor, was discussed. Dempsey expressed interest in boosting Iraq’s security in face of increasing al-Qaeda terror, Reuters reported.