Southern Syria: No Notable Changes

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Mon 1 August / Aug 2016. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Mon 1 August / Aug 2016. 08:38 PM
  • Fahed Khitan

The Impression following the statements of the US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter were that the Southern fronts in Syria will see a wide span of military operation against terrorist organisations with Jordanian military participation.

Reviewing Carter’s statements, it would seem these impressions are not entirely precise. The US Defence Secretary spoke about military operations from the south of Syria, “not” in the south of Syria.

Notably, first; the southern frontier is not per say beyond the span of ISIS operation. It was, and still is, a gateway for coordinated attacks on terrorist targets in the depth of the Syrian territory. The only expansion is due to logistic variable and military calculations shifting, marginally, inducing the possible necessity to expand operations there to the Deir el Zour and Raqqa areas, as well as in the southern vicinities of these provinces, and not in Daraa, as some expected.

So far, Daraa and its countryside have enjoyed relative stability with little collusions, mostly between factions of the opposition itself, and very limited confrontations between armed groups and regime forced centralised in the heart of the city and some of the province towns.

More importantly, the Daraa area does not feature a scalable presence of ISIS militants that requires of Washington to launch a wide spanned military assault. With ISIS presence limited to highly de-capacitated aggregations, working within sights of Jordanian surveillance, the only remaining force is the Fathal Sham faction, a previous-Nusra affiliated group now with ISIS; and this particular faction has relocated many of their fighters out of the Syrian south, abruptly, just days ago.

Nonetheless, the borderline between Jordan and Syria remains an operational hotspot, with Border Guards and Intelligence devices working on end to repel terrorist infiltration, and arms and narcotics smuggling through our borders, with eyes wide open for armed militia movements, insuring they do not position anywhere near Jordanian territories.

Further into the Syrian depths, Jordan is still supporting the static between the regime and armed opposition, seeking at the moment no more than that!

On the other hand, resorting to the south to base for the new scale of operations against ISIS, per statements by US military officials, has yet to be decided upon, and is pending agreements with Russia on one side, and assurances from armed factions fighting ISIS on the other, regarding their ability to exact effective attacks against the terrorist organisation, while maintaining control over liberated areas.

In favour of the proposition; many Global Alliance aircrafts and fighters are ported in Jordanian airbases that pave accessible coverage to airstrikes in Syrian depths.

More so, it is in the interests of Jordan to engage in decisive confrontation with terrorists in Raqqa and Deir el Zour, in order to prevent their escape towards our borders, the way it happened in Iraq when fighting ISIS in Anbar was prioritised over fighting them in Mosul.

I have no doubt that Jordan has every intention to induce a shift in policies regarding Syria, after several successful years dealing with the crisis there. On the contrary; I do not find any reason for alarm by many fearful of Jordan’s involvement in the Syrian turmoil. Fact is, the intervention of the world’s major powers in Syria went to no end, fruitlessly; let alone a neighbouring state, with clear knowledge of its capacities and capabilities, which really understands that the best available option at hand is for Jordan to hold the line and not fall into the fires.