Jordan accused of supporting Syrian rebels

Jordan accused of supporting Syrian rebels
Analysis: A pro-Syrian satellite channel accuses Jordan of involvement in the recent offensive in the south of Syria against regime bases.
2 min read
14 June, 2015
A regime warplane shot down by the Southern Front on Wednesday [Getty]

A pro-Syrian regime Lebanese satellite channel has accused Jordan of aiding Syrian opposition fighters in taking one of the most important Syrian army bases in southern Syria.

Al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese satellite channel known for supporting the Syrian regime and Hizballah, said it had "exclusive intelligence information" that indicated thousands of fighters belonging to the Southern Front raided the base under orders from the so-called Military Operations Command (MOC) in Jordan, an centre allegedly staffed by Western, Gulf and Jordanian military advisers providing planning, logistics, funding, and weapons to Syrian rebels.

Prior to the rebel capture of the base of Brigade 52, a pro-Syrian regime newspaper in Lebanon suggested this same MOC in Jordan was coordinating a major rebel offensive in southern Syria.

The Syrian government has accused Jordan many times of supporting "terrorists", a blanket term Damascus uses for jihadist groups operating in the country, such as the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front and other rebel groups seeking to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Jordan has denied the MOC had any role in supporting rebels in Syria.

Officially neutral

Jordan's role in Syria should be seen as part of its overall foreign policy to secure the stability of the kingdom.

Officially, the Jordanian government maintains a neutral stance vis-a-vis the conflict in its northern neighbour and denies training rebels on its territory or providing them with logistical assistance.

However, statements given by Syrian rebel leaders in the past and multiple press reports indicate a Jordanian connection to the conflict.

Jordan's role in Syria should be seen as part of its overall foreign policy in which the benchmark has always been the stability of the kingdom. Jordan is most probably hedging all its possibilities, but it also has to strike a balance between the needs of its allies in the US and the Gulf Cooperation Council, its wariness of the regime in Damascus, and the threat to the kingdom from jihadist groups like the Islamic State group, now too close to its borders for comfort.

Jordan, which hosts over a million Syrian refugees by some estimates, has also suffered economically from the conflict. In April, rebels captured the last remaining regime-controlled border crossing with Jordan in Syria, dealing a major blow to the kingdom's trade.

The Syrian regime is on the retreat outside its strongholds in the Syrian coast and Damascus, while the rebel groups, now working more closely with the Nusra Front, seem more unified and formidable than ever as they have gone on the offensive in both northern and southern Syria.