Thursday, April 25, 2013

'Jordan in the Eye of the Syrian Storm'

"... However, by the beginning of 2013, Damascus began to notice a new development, whereby Syrian army defectors and Syrian Muslim Brotherhood members were being trained in Jordanian camps and sent across the border with official consent.This prompted Damascus to dispatch Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal al-Miqdad to Amman in January. Jordanian officials denied any such operations, insisting that their country’s policy of neutrality still stood.
Then, new waves of fighters crossed the border into Syria in February and March, bringing with them large amounts of medium-sized weapons, such as armor-piercing shoulder-fired rockets, which can also be used against planes.In mid-March, Damascus secretly sent former head of intelligence Ali Mamlouk to Amman to brief his counterparts on border developments. Again, the Jordanian response was complete denial.
A Syrian source who refused to be named said that Jordan has opened several camps for the Syrian opposition that are capable of training up to 5,000 fighters at once. So far, 3,000 have completed their training, of which 1,560 have crossed the border into Daraa.
Diplomatic and military channels remain open between the two countries, which some Syrian officials believe can still be used to deal with the growing problem. Syria’s ambassador in Amman is also quite certain that the Jordanian military, for a variety of reasons, is unlikely to become directly involved in the Syrian conflict.
Nevertheless, Jordan must withstand tremendous pressure coming from Washington in order to avoid becoming implicated in Syrian affairs. US officials like Secretary of State John Kerry, for example, do not hesitate in exploiting Jordan’s fragile economic situation to bend it to its will.
But despite promises of billions of dollars in aid from both the West and Gulf countries, not enough has actually reached Amman to stave off its economic woes. Even those funds intended to help the country cope with the influx of Syrian refugees are slow in coming, and are often bound up with conditions that the Jordanian government cannot meet.
At the end of the day, however, a high-level Jordanian official still believes that it will be difficult for his country to become deeply involved in the Syrian crisis, primarily because the public sentiment opposes such involvement.."

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