The Jordanian-Iraqi border witnessed a new development yesterday [June 23] that prompted Amman to mobilize its military forces and kept the government in permanent session. The government considered the decision to close the border unilaterally “in order to preserve the national security of the kingdom.” After insurgents took control of the Trebil crossing between the two countries, Iraqi forces withdrew from the area and senior Iraqi leaders fled to the kingdom.
The security situation remains uncertain near the border as Jordanian officials refuse to determine which party controls the crossing, which is about 370 kilometers [230 miles] from Amman along Anbar province.
A senior Jordanian military source said, “The General Command of the Armed Forces of Jordan has decided to strengthen its military forces on Jordan’s border with Iraq in an unprecedented manner” and that “the military buildup consisted of rocket launchers, armored personnel carriers and tanks.”
The source added, “The Jordanian army is not afraid of any party that is considering compromising or tampering with the security of the country.”
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry has reportedly sent a memo to Iraq to inquire about its final and official position on the accelerated developments near the border.
Meanwhile, Jordanian and Iraqi sources said that the border has fallen into the hands of armed groups affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). For his part, spokesman for the rebel Iraqi tribes Abu Abd al-Nuaimi confirmed that clan groups have taken control of Anbar province at the crossing but strongly denied that the crossing was under the control of ISIS members.
Nuaimi stressed that the tribal militants “have controlled the crossing after bloody clashes with Iraqi troops on Sunday night [June 22] and that all participants in the clashes were from the Anbar rebels.”
“Tribal rebels are keen to preserve Jordan's security and stability, and they send all love and appreciation to the brotherly Jordanian people,” he added.
A Jordanian source said, “A number of Iraqi leaders and members of the border protection forces have crossed to the Jordanian side, most notably Brig. Gen. Ali al-Asadi, who is in charge of the border crossing.”
The sources said, “Iraqis who entered the Jordanian territory on Thursday evening [June 19] are mostly regular troops, and they fled to the kingdom after insurgents took control of the Trebil crossing.”
Spokesman for the Jordanian government Mohammed Al-Momani told Al-Hayat that “228 Iraqis entered the kingdom on Sunday night [June 22]” without discussing the causes behind their arrival and whether they were soldiers or civilians. He pointed out that “the situation on the Iraqi side of the border is not normal. ... There is a state of chaos.”
With the acceleration of events at the border, Amman rushed yesterday [June 23] to mobilize its armed forces along its border with Iraq. Dozens of military units have been called to the crossing near the border between the two countries.
Momani said, “The Jordanian armed forces and security services are closely following the developments on the other side of the border,” adding, “The government is in a permanent session, and will take the necessary measures and precautions required by the situation.”
The dramatic situation taking place in Iraq topped the agenda of the talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry, who visited Jordan on Sunday evening [June 22] and met with his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh before heading to Iraq on Monday morning [June 23].
The official news agency (Petra) quoted the Jordanian Foreign Ministry as saying, “Kerry and Judeh stressed the importance of having all the concerned parties join their efforts with the international community to respond to the developments plaguing Iraq and threatening the security of the entire region.”
Kerry's visit coincided with President Barack Obama’s statements in which he declared his concern that the ISIS members would reach Jordan and threaten the security and stability of the kingdom, one of the main allies of Washington in the region.