Threatened Jordan is losing its temper with Syria
Jordan has meant to deliver a political message to the Syrian regime and rebels; it is beginning to lose its temper
Through the recent airstrikes against armored vehicles attempting to cross the border from war-ton Syria, Jordan has meant to deliver a political message to the Syrian regime and rebels on its preparedness and boldness to do whatever necessary to prevent a conflict spillover from the northern war-torn neighbor.
In addition to marking the highest level of escalation on the Jordanian-Syrian borders that extend to more than 370 kilometers, Wednesday’s airstrikes by Royal air force jet fighters against the camouflaged vehicles also signaled the emergence of a bold Jordanian stance on the ongoing war in Syria as opposed to Amman’s long-held neutrality.
Following the unprecedented security event, Jordan’s army issued a brief statement, saying that its warplanes destroyed a number of vehicles which tried to enter the kingdom illegally from an area with rugged terrain on the border with Syria. The army has provided no further information on whether the vehicles belonged to the Syrian army, the rebels or to smugglers whose activity on the hostile borders has been said to be on the rise.
The army will not tolerate such actions, the statement said, clearly delivering a bold message to the Syrian fighting parties, both the regime and the rebels, saying in brief: “We are there. Don’t come any closer.” The Jordanian army could have dealt with the vehicle convoy using small-scale combat tactics other than airstrikes but it has resorted to jet fighters instead to say that its patience has limits and that all means are in place to be used when necessary.
Jordan has been always been concerned over possible Damascus-led retribution to punish Amman for its position within the U.S.-led anti-Bashar al Assad campRaed Omari
Many observers see in the airstrikes a message by Amman to the extremist groups fighting and infighting in Syria, mainly Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, dwelling on the fact that many Jordanians are enlisted in the two al-Qaeda affiliates whose “sacred” war can be fought everywhere and anytime
It might be so anyway taking into consideration the extended prison sentences Jordanian courts have handed to Jordanians for joining these two fundamentalist groups in their fight against the regime and against themselves in Syria.
However, at least for myself, a great deal of Jordan’s warning message manifested in the airstrikes has been directed to the Syrian regime as part of the Jordanian conviction of Damascus’ “evil intention” to destabilize the security-concerned kingdom.
Jordan has been always been concerned over a possible Damascus-led retribution to punish Amman for its position within the U.S.-led anti-Bashar al Assad camp and for its support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Jordan is also concerned about the existence of “sleeper cells” within the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees awaiting the go-ahead from Damascus to perform terrorism acts and that is one of the reasons behind setting up heavily secured refugee camps away from major cities and other populated areas.
It is thus not a far possibility that the targeted combat vehicles might have been sent by the Syrian regime to Jordan to threaten Amman and oblige it to change its softened stance on the FSA’s strongholds in the southern Syrian province of Daraa.
Losing its temper
Now, regardless of to whom the warning was primarily directed, the unprecedented security incident on the Jordanian-Syrian border has been an indication of refugee-plagued Jordan losing temper with the decaying possibility of an approaching end to the Syrian crisis and its accompanying security, political, demographic and economic consequences.
Jordan, estimated to be hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees exceeding one million, has witnessed many riots inside the refugee camps with the recent one in the iconic Zaatari camp on the northern border with Syria during which the Jordanian security bodies had to use tear gas to disperse stone-throwing Syrian refugees who were demanding that they be allowed to work outside the facility.
Also, in an inseparable indication of Jordan’s impatience on Syria which signals weariness over its long-preserved “open-border” policy, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh has been quoted after the airstrike incident as underlining that his country has reached the “maximum capacity” of refugees that can be hosted, calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to end the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.
Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2
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