News / Middle East

Officials: Jordan Reluctant to Host US-led Syria Rebel Training

This May 7, 2014 photo provided by the anti-government activist group Coordination Committee of Khalidiya Neighborhood in Homs, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Free Syrian Army fighters on a bus
This May 7, 2014 photo provided by the anti-government activist group Coordination Committee of Khalidiya Neighborhood in Homs, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Free Syrian Army fighters on a bus
Reuters

Jordan, where the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has been covertly training Syrian rebels for more than a year, is reluctant to host an expanded rebel instruction program, U.S. officials said.

Jordan's reticence, confirmed by four U.S. officials, is a potentially serious setback for President Barack Obama's proposed $500 million initiative, announced in June, to train and arm moderate rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and al Qaida-linked groups.

It could signal a larger challenge in finding suitable nations willing to host the U.S.-led training at a time of heightened tensions across much of the Middle East.

While U.S. officials have not made a formal request to the Jordanian government, the country was widely considered a top choice to host the training due its close security relationship with Washington, proximity to neighboring Syria and pool of more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.

U.S. officials and analysts said Jordan fears violent retaliation from Syria if its territory is used for overt training conducted by U.S. military units.

"Jordan told the U.S., 'No boots on the ground'," said one of the officials, who all requested anonymity because they were discussing sensitive U.S. military arrangements.

Other current and former U.S. officials described the Jordanian position as less ironclad, however, and said they still hoped to convince Jordan to participate in the program, which must still be approved by the U.S. Congress.

The Jordanian government, through its Washington embassy, declined requests by Reuters for comment. A Jordanian official in Amman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was "premature to even suggest the Kingdom has rejected any such plan that even the Americans have yet to flesh out."

If not Jordan, then where?

While there are other potential sites where the training could take place, including Turkey and Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, no agreements have been struck, U.S. officials said. Turkey and the Saudis also have sensitivities about the presence of large numbers of U.S. troops.

"There's been no decision on location, at all. Or even ... what the character of the program itself would look like, if we get the money" from Congress, said a second U.S. official.

Jordan already hosts a small and ostensibly covert effort by the CIA to equip and train small groups of Assad's opponents.

But it faces increasing threats to its stability from the Syrian civil war and rise of extremist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The United States has already increased its military presence in Jordan to around 1,300 soldiers. It has also stationed Patriot surface-to-air missiles there.

Jordan's King Abdullah met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Washington on Thursday for talks that included Syria, the White House said in a statement. U.S. and Jordanian officials declined to give further details.

If approved by lawmakers, the $500 million fund to arm and train rebels will not be available until Oct. 1 at the earliest, or possibly months later depending on potential delays in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Other important details, including how "moderate" rebels would be vetted to weed out those with records of human rights abuses or ties to extremist groups, have yet to be finalized, the U.S. officials said.

U.S. law requires the State Department to screen foreign military members and units being trained with U.S. funds. Assistance is barred when credible evidence of human rights abuses turns up. But it is unclear how the law applies to a proxy force like the Syrian rebels.

"I'm not seeing any evidence, as of yet, that there's any sense of operational urgency here," said Fred Hof, a former State Department official involved in formulating Syria policy before he joined the Atlantic Council think tank in 2012.

Rather than asking Congress for new funds for the fiscal year from Oct. 1, Obama could have requested urgent money from the Pentagon to get the effort started quickly, Hof said.

Pentagon officials said the military's U.S. Central Command drew up plans for a training program some time ago in anticipation of a White House request, and efforts had begun to flesh out the details.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid