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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs