Heat on the Northern Borderline

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Tue 16 May / May 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Rapid developments on the south Syrian frontier, the Syrian Badia, and the clashes’ proximity to our northern borderline makes it even more important for Jordan to secure these parameters.

In the triangular area between Tunf, the town on the Iraqi-Syrian-Jordanian borderlines, and the Syrian Badia, clashes between armed factions there have escalated.

For the first time, the Syrian regular army and their armed militias have crossed the lines east of Palmyra, taking back many villages in the Homs outskirt, racing to retake Iraqi-Syrian border territories.

Some military analyses indicate they have already managed to retake many of the towns of the Syrian Badia.

Meanwhile, armed opposition militias are also trying to take the areas freed from ISIS control.

In the outskirts of Suwaida, they are racing Syrian government forces for territory, especially in the vicinity of borderline town of Tunf.

Although the Tunf border crossing and its southernmost town were never of such value, strategically, their location has gained major strategic importance in the regional, competitive geopolitical dynamic.

As regional and international players compete over geopolitical dominion, conflicting parties in the Syrian south have been clashing over it for some time now.

Notably, not long ago, US-backed Syrian opposition factions successfully took Tunf back from ISIS, and turned it into a central operations and observatory base for global coalition and allied operations in both Syria and Iraq.

For Jordan, as well, Tunf —in light of the recent ongoings— has also gained a parallel strategic significance, given its adjacency to the Rukban, just north east of the camp where more than 100 thousand displaced Syrians reside.

In Amman, there is a encompassing conviction that the Rukban camp has become a pit stop for ISIS militants to reorganise their return.

Typically, taking Tunf would make it easier for Jordan to control the threat of ISIS regrouping on its northern borderline, be it directly or by proxy.

It will also make it easier to monitor the Badia frontier and scale down the spill over elements of operation Raqqa liberation.

Despite the limited capacities of the territory as it is now, there is an indication that the Global Coalition —Jordan on board— may seek to turn it into one massive fortified military base for surveillance, training, logistics and security, in the middle of this regional, competitive turmoil.

Everybody’s in on it for something, there are different agendas in play here; why did Tunf, out of a sudden, become such a strategic location? Why not Idlib?

Notably, Idlib is still under the control of the “Sham” liberation organisation, which is considered a terrorist group by both the US and Russia. Why not take Idlib instead?!

Evidently, it has something to do with the shift in US strategy on Syria, with the arrival of Donald Trump, who seemingly has reorganised America’s interests and reprioritised US stakes, doubling them in fact, in regards to braking Iran’s expansion of influence.

Apparently, the Pentagon is considering limiting Tehran’s strategic access to the Mediterranean.

Hence, the importance of the Syrian-Iraqi border areas, from Tanf through Albu Kamal to Deir al Zour.

Somehow, the Iranians seem to have gotten wind of the American’s new plan.

So, they decided to drive the army down to the southern areas of Syria to seize the Badia, to prevent US-allies from taking it and applying further pressure on Damascus and its outskirts, one Iranian official had said.

On the second hand, taking these areas actually brings Deir al Zour closer to US or Syria friendlies, as opposed to the "legacy of black flags".

All that is said and done, is intended to advance the negotiation stances of each of the competitors before the Geneva Talks launch.

That said, how controllable is all this baffling really?!

Is it not possible that this may spin all out of control and lead to a semi-direct regional and international confrontation?!

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