Jordan’s Aspirations in Syria

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Mon 3 July / Jul 2017. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Mon 3 July / Jul 2017. 02:09 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

Does Jordan hope for more than a permanent ceasefire on the Syrian side of the border?

Undoubtedly. Jordan is holding its breath for the day commercial activity is resumed through the northern borderline with Syria. It is important for the market to revitalise and restore at least some of its pace, particularly in Lebanon.

The domestic market may have adapted, somewhat, to the standing economic constraints and the overall condition, as well as to the alternative trade routes. But the culminated losses can only be compensated by restoring the previous pace of commercial activities, from Iraq through Syria.

This is no easy task, mind you.

The Syrian army is persistently pushing to regain control of the border with Jordan, in the contexts of a broader vision for the post-ISIS stage. One which incorporates the interests of Damascus’s regional allies.

Even though the fighting in Daraa is picking up at a ridiculous pace, it has yet to bring about a significant shift in the power balance on the ground.

Armed rebels near the Jordanian border are still present both on the battlefield as well as on the negotiation tables in Geneva and Astana.

Typically, armed opposition factions have decided to boycott the Astana meetings scheduled tomorrow, in a response to continued bombardment.

Meanwhile, Jordanian-Russian-US talks are ongoing to arrive at a formula that addresses the priorities of the low-tension zone in the Syrian south.

Soon, according to media reports, an understanding is underway to finally begin with implementation.

This agreement will provide an opportunity to restore tranquillity in the south, but it is difficult to give the Syrian army the chance to extend control over the entire border region.

Else, the agreement, in principle, is void.

Assuming the Syrian army was able to retake the ‘Nasseib’ border crossing with Jordan, it will not be enough to restore commercial activity between the two countries.

This is especially true in the absence of solid security assurances on the passage of goods and commodities from the Syrian border crossing to the rest of the Syria, through to Lebanon.

Rebel groups are not going to give the regime the chance to operate the crossing peacefully.

Securing permanent stability on the border crossings requires the establishment of Russo-American-Jordanian-Syrian accords.

For months, Damascus has been trying to convince Jordan to open an alternative crossing to the East of the borderline, near Sweida.

For reasons related to logistics and security, the deal was not realised.

New highways have to be paved all the way to the suggested border crossing with Syria, which isn’t exactly feasible.

Jordan’s main concern is that the border region becomes the battleground for sectarian clashes between militias on the army’s side and the rebels.

Sectarian militias have made no effort to conceal their interests in expanding control over the southern Syrian regions, which will surely ignite the situation with the local rebels there and jeopardise Jordan’s interests.

Experts estimate that Syrian army forces will not be able to permanently secure control over border areas without the support of these militias.

This pushes Jordan to keep an open eye out for underway developments on the Syrian border.

If it were up to Jordan, the Kingdom would rather have a regular, official army on the Syrian side of the border, keeping things in order, the way it was 6 years ago.

Is this a viable option, soon?!

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