Jordan and US Syria Strike Debate!

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Sun 9 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Jordan’s stance of the United States’ Tomahawk strike of the Syrian military airbase a few days back stirred a storming debate among the political and diplomatic elite.

The eye of the debate circled around whether or not there is a Jordanian shift in the Syrian Approach, and if so, to what extend? Is the Jordanian condoning position exclusive to this particular strike or will it extend to condone other transformations?!

At first, the Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, described the strike on Twitter as “limited and appropriate”, hoping it would be an incentive to advance a political resolution.

Likewise, Minister of Media and Government Speaker, Dr Mohammad Momani, more clearly said what was also widely perceived as an endorsement of the strike.

That is despite the caution and effort Jordanian officials put into picking the right and precise sentences.

Still, the overall media-political stance was tinted with advocacy of the US strike.

Even though the missile strike actually was limited, and its affect will not in any way alter the power balance in Syria, it does convey an important and deliberate message.

Let us go beyond the internal rhetoric behind the strike. Trump wants to say to the Russians, the Iranians, and the Syrian Regime, that the rules of the game have changed, and that there is an underway shift in the US position.

Most likely, this transmutation in the American approach on Syria is comprised of two main premises.

First, that Trump will not leave Syria for the Russians and Iranians, the way Obama did.

Contrarily, the US now is ready to pry its way into the game by hook or crook to seat itself on the Syrian negotiation table. Trump will seek to anchor new basis for the States’ role in Syria.

The second premise for the US aspiration in Syria is reprioritisation. Trump has marked two main objectives in Syria: to vanquish ISIS, and scale down Iran, in order to brake their strategic expansion to the Mediterranean.

In light of the most recent developments in Syria, the US position on Assad’s fate may have changed.

Up until the Khan Sheikhoun horrid attack, Trump’s administration had repeatedly stated that the previous “removal” condition has been sunk.

Now, however, the US position is no longer as clear.

Meanwhile, despite the Russian outrage over the US strike, the Americans will be sure to try and build new accords with Russia.

Naturally, the US will try to draw the Russians away from the current alliance and convergence of interests with Tehran and the Syrian regime.

Needless to say, striking a new accord with the Russians is going to be far more complicated than any military operation.

In the end, Jordan cannot possibly stand alone on this.

The Jordanian voice cannot be isolated from the momentum and pace of the international community or the USA, Jordan’s most indispensable strategic ally.

Soon enough, the spheres of US-Jordanian collaboration and alliance will take on a regional dimension, particularly in regards to the ongoing war on terror and ISIS. It is evident of Trump’s address, recently, on Jordan and the King’s role.

Joint military operations will expand and advance to unprecedented levels, especially in the Syrian Badia region, where most ISIS militants are expected to head when Mosul and Raqqa are liberated.

Typically, once they relocate, the terror group will consolidate on a much closer distance to our borders with Syria.

Meanwhile, on the lookout across the borderline, Jordan needs to ensure that agreed arrangements with Russia sustain, particularly those regarding the southern ceasefire.

Though Jordan and Russia seemed well adjusted and close over the months past, the truth is, it was more of a necessity since Obama stepped out of the Syrian picture.

The Kingdom has had to balance its way through these tremoring shifts in the Syrian equation to maintain a beneficial relationship with the Russians too. One which is deep enough to sustain fluctuations in the international power halls invested in the Syrian situation.

Mindfully, this particularly precise equation is closely bound to the progress of bilateral Russo-American accords on the Syrian matter.

As a result of the US strike, the safe zones idea; once agreeable to the Russians, will probably be deferred for the meantime, until a more consolidated US-Russian view on Syria is reconstructed.

On the other hand, the Iranians, as well as the Syrian regime, who clearly want to smear Jordan’s reputation and ability, have clearly voiced their opposition of the very notion of founding internationally secured safe zones in Syria.

In the most recent Daraa confrontations, the Iranians and Assad’s regime have made their point clear in these regards.

This, among other factors, adds to the premises of the US shift.

For Jordan it is evident in the recent, subtle but clear Jordanian turn from Iran.

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