Jordan and the Syrian Badia

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Mon 11 September / Sep 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Recent developments in the Syrian Badia’s Suwaida outskirts, by the Jordanian borders, raises a massive question mark on our ideas for the next phase.

The Syrian Army is expanding its control over these areas, and is not in control of several points along the North Eastern borderline, near the Hadalat refugee camp.

Not long ago, the displaced Syrians and refugees in this camp were relocated to the Rukban camp. And most of them are relatives and families to opposition factions affiliated with Jordan.

Many of these factions have not yet settled on the underway transmutation.

Meanwhile, the former Tribal Army has withdrawn from much of these territories, to avoid clashing with the Syrian army and its allies.

The joint operations’ MOC directives were for these factions to withdraw and not collide with Assad’s army.

Officially, the explanation is that the confrontation would be unbalanced.

In other worse, facing up to the Syrian Army and allies would lead to these factions’ annihilation.

Naturally, they played a major role in the fight against ISIS in the Badia and the Suwaida district.

Therefore, Jordan and its allies do not want them to be run over in a battle that is predetermined in favour of the regime.

Sounds about right.

However, this is only at the surface; beyond lies a deeper rational for the MOC’s position, Jordan and allies, as to why they’ve ordered the withdrawal.

Above all, there is a strategic shift in Syria’s outlook and the progression of events there.

Obviously, the table has flipped and the war has seen a massive landslide in favour of the Syrian regime.

In the meantime, there is no clear international strategy or roadmap as to how the coalition will address these shifts in the Syrian situation.

Hence, the decision was to restrain the role of the armed opposition in the Syrian South to fighting ISIS, instead of the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s bet is that the Russians will play and indivisible role in the Syrian situation.

More so is dependent on the success of the De-escalation Zones, to protect Jordan’s vital and strategic interests in the Syrian South, by the border.

Now, much of these areas have been integrated into the ceasefire agreements in Daraa, in addition to other smaller parts of Tanf, including Rukban, which is under US control.

Strategically speaking, this renders the areas the Syrian Army is trying to seize more or less weightless to Jordan’s interests.

For the time being at least, Jordan relies more on the Russian role than it does on the Americans’ to advance its agendas in Syria.

The Power Hall in Amman is now convinced of the US’s limited role there, so long as the southern parts of Syria, which are Jordan’s priority, are secure.

Daraa is packed with Syrians, unlike the barren wastelands the Syrian forces are trying to take back, with only a few border points.

In the few years past, as the Arab position on Syria disintegrated, and most of the powers working to topple Assad sidelined, Jordan has been weathering the storm.

Gradually, Jordan’s strategies have shifted, in accordance too to the military developments in the field.

All that sounds just fine, as it is all within Jordan’s best interests.

However, there remain many doubts and fears which should not be left out of Jordan’s political calculations, especially in regards to sustaining the ceasefire.

Maintaining Jordan’s influence in Syria, mainly the factions in South Syria, who helped protect our borders, through the “Cushions Strategy” we employed, is crucial.

There are no long-term guarantees at this moment, which would have us abandon the Syrian opposition factions. Especially in light of Iran’s growing influence.

The Iranians’ agendas in Syria vary from the Russians’.

Naturally, this requires of us to be more cautious when approaching the Syrian South and our relationship with the armed factions there.

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