News / Middle East

Jordan Feels Pressure to Take Sides on Syria

Elizabeth Arrott
Syria's neighbors have watched the nation's civil war unfolding on their borders -- and occasionally spilling over.  Unlike Turkey and Iraq, Jordan has tried to remain neutral.  There are signs the kingdom may be dragged, however reluctantly, into the conflict.
With growing political and economic unrest at home, the last thing many Jordanians want is conflict with neighbor Syria.

“The interests of Jordan dictate that Jordan does not interfere,” said political analyst Labib Kamhawi. He says those interests may come second to larger issues at play.

“There seems to be enough pressure coming from outside, from the U.S. and Europe and coming regionally from the Gulf states and Saudi, using economic means to force Jordan to open its grounds for some sort of military intervention, be it human resources or arms or logistics -- but it's happening," Kamhawi stated.
The United States, a key Jordanian ally, has sent a small military contingent to the kingdom.  Its precise mission is unclear.
Hassan Barari, a professor of International Studies at Jordan University, says it is important to have the Americans on board. “The international community wants Jordan to play a role in Syria," he said. "Jordan can't do it on its own and there should be some support, in particular from the Americans."
Damascus is just over 100 kilometers to the north and those trying to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad see Jordan as a key supply route to rebels trying to take the capital.
“There has been some arms smugglers into Syria but really the minimum level. It is not enough to provoke the Syrians.  But at least Jordan is giving the impression that it is ready to do it,” added Barari.
The risk of Syrian retaliation was heightened earlier this year when Jordanian officials said they had uncovered an attack plot by militants from Syria.

“No one can make the claim that the Syrian regime sent them, but once Jordan gets involved in this, this would be probably a front for Jordan to contend with,” explained Barari.

As the Syrian government struggles for survival, a new threat has emerged.  U.S. intelligence sources say Syria may be preparing to deploy chemical weapons.
Political analyst Kamhawi says the U.S. hurt its credibility on such matters in the prelude to the Iraq war -- which he feels casts doubt on the current claims. “If we accept the argument that there is some imminent danger coming from some Syrian chemical weapons, then this is an invitation for foreign intervention into Syria,” he noted.
Both men feel that, regardless of what Jordanians want, ultimately it may not be their choice.
“I think at the end of the day, Jordan will find it is really hard to take a position that is independent of what the Americans want to do,” said Barari.
In the meantime, Jordanians are watching, and waiting.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
December 16, 2012 6:36 PM
Jordan, as all other civilized nations has no choice to make. It must stand against those that are, were, and will continue to use all their power, to commit crimes against humanity, by indiscriminately bombing, shelling, torturing and murdering civilians, including women, children and old people. The reports on these issues, and the observed destruction are a testament to the terrible acts committed.
Jordan can't remain neutral in a situation in which a dictatorship, that does not have the support of the people, has waged, wages, and has clearly indicated that it will continue to wage a terrible war against its own citizens. I can't see why? any one would think that Jordan needs to be cajolled by any other state, or any one, for the Jordanian leadership to make their own assesment and come to a humane decision. The fact that Jordan has allowed all persecuted persons from Syria, accross its borders, is indicative as to Jordan's position; and has provided full aid, as well as it can, to all refugees from Syria, including those needing medical help/the wounded, etc.. It is quite clear, in my view, as to were Jordan stands. I do not see/expect Jordan to take military action; Jordan has small forces. Turkey, with one of the larges armed forces in the world, has also abstained from engaging militarly notwithstanding its territory is routinely attacked by the Syrian dictatorship........

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs