Jordan in Astana: What about Daraa?!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 14 February / Feb 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

After months of relative tranquillity on the Jordan-Syrian borderline, shells from the Syrian side are back to threaten the safety of the residents of Ramtha, and remind us of the perils imminent should the war in Syria go on.

We still do not understand what exactly exploded the situation between the regime’s forces and the armed groups, since the ceasefire has been standing for months.

According to journalistic reports from the field, the armed groups are the ones who initiated the attack in an attempt to seize the Manshiyya neighbourhood in central Daraa and advance towards other neighbourhoods under the current control of the Syrian Regime.

Strangely, this broke out as Jordan’s delegation0 made their way to participate at the second Astana Talks round to hold the ceasefire under the sponsorship of Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

Jordan, as it is known, has considerable influence in the Syrian south, and is in fact in control, alongside the American, of the movement of the major armed groups there.

Apparently, this may have been what drove Syrian regime-affiliated media to say that the ongoing Daraa clashes are an attempt by Jordan to leverage the opposition’s stand in the underway negotiations in Astana before setting the ceasefire.

Obviously, it is hard to give into this hypothesis, because the Syrian Southern Frontier has been seeing an array of rearrangements and movements that do not —at all— align with Jordan’s security strategy for the northern borderline, especially since the Kingdom’s foremost priority is to finish ISIS affiliated terrorist groups and prevent the advancement of other groups coming in from the East alongside the Syrian border areas with us.

So far, nothing has changed about this strategy, and the airstrikes the Royal Air Force has struck only back’s Jordan’s rhetoric.

Right now, indices outline a more affective and active role for Jordan in the war against terror in Syria for the upcoming phases, and it was obvious, a while ago, that many of Syria’s armed opposition facts were unpleased by Jordan’s imposed static and endeavours to hinder the advancement of armed militants into the city depths of Daraa.

More so, Jordan’s participation in the Astana process, and the persistence to include the Southern Frontier in the ceasefire, are strong evidence of the sharp turn in Jordan’s position towards the Russian-led axis of the conflict, and indicates the Kingdom’s desire to reengage Damascus later on.

So, why did the situation in Daraa explode?

There are two standing possibilities. The first is that the armed rebels have decided to go on an adventure to conquer the odds, as opposed to humiliation; and adventure that does not comply with Jordanian directives, without conferring with regional and international allies.

The second possibility is that Jordan did indeed seek to reignite the southern frontier in a calculated manner, for tactical purposes, with much to do with Jordan’s role in Astana, and that the escalation will cease the moment its goals and objectives are attained.

Regardless of whether or not Jordan has or hasn’t a role in the ongoings by our borders, it is now extremely necessary that an intervention is orchestrated to control the deteriorating situation over there, now that the shelling has reached our towns and cities!

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.