Analysts: Jordan’s Syria position unchanged despite diplomatic escalation

Jordan is home to more than 600,000 Syrian refugees, and has a long border with its northern neighbor

Raed Omari

Published: Updated:

Jordan’s expulsion of the Syrian ambassador does not signal a dramatic change in the kingdom’s position on Syria, experts say.

Jordan on Monday declared Bahjat Suleiman persona non grata and ordered him to leave within 24 hours, citing his “repeated insults” of the kingdom “in complete disregard of frequent warnings not to take advantage of Jordan’s hospitality.” He left Tuesday morning.

Damascus said the decision was “unjustified,” adding that Jordan’s charge d’affaires Mohammad Amin Abu Jamoos, who was in Amman, is not allowed to re-enter Syria.

Mohammad Abu Rumman, professor of political science at the University of Jordan, told Al Arabiya News that Amman’s decision has to be taken solely within a personal context with regard to Suleiman’s “provocative” and “arrogant” attitude, not within the wider context of Jordanian-Syrian diplomatic relations.

Abu Rumman cited statements by Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh , saying the kingdom wants a replacement to Suleiman who respects diplomatic conventions.

Judeh was quoted by local media on Tuesday as saying there is no link between Suleiman’s departure and the approval of a representative from the Syrian opposition in Amman.

“What happened was an expulsion of the Syrian ambassador and not a closure of the Syrian embassy,” Judeh said, stressing that there is no change in Jordan’s long-held position that a political solution is needed to end the Syrian war.
However, Abu Ruman said the emerging “action-reaction” approach between Jordan and Syria may transform into a diplomatic crisis.

Political analyst Amer Sabaileh cast doubt on the timing of Jordan’s move, saying there might be another, undisclosed reason in addition to Suleiman’s attitude.

“Syria will send another envoy to Amman to ensure success for the participation of Syrian expatriates in Amman in the presidential elections,” Sabaileh told Al Arabiya News.

“It’s hoped that the Syrian government appoints a new ambassador from a diplomatic and not a security background,” he added.
On its Facebook page, the Syrian embassy in Amman called on citizens to take part in the polls that are slated for Wednesday.

Jordan is home to more than 600,000 Syrian refugees, and has a long border with its northern neighbor.