Jordan Fears Rise of Muslim Brotherhood in Syria

Article Summary
The Jordanian government has sought a new balance in its Syria policy because of fears of an Islamist takeover and sectarian bloodshed, writes Tamer al-Samadi.

Jordanian government institutions are expressing concern over the possibility that the Muslim Brotherhood will rise to power in Syria after the fall of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Official and reliable political sources revealed to Al-Hayat that "the kingdom fears the continued rise of Brotherhood groups in the Arab world, and it dreads that once the current regime is overthrown, Syria would join this new Islamist alliance."

These sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that "any prospective influence of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood will have a direct impact on Jordan's Brotherhood, and thus raise the ceiling of their reform demands, especially their call to undermine the powers of King Abdullah II."

Jordanian Islamists have been demanding political and economic reforms since January 2011. They are also calling for constitutional amendments, which include undermining the broad powers of the palace, the dismissal and appointment of governments and the selection of the members of the senate (the upper house of the parliament).

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Politicians and media representatives who attended recent meetings held between top officials in the state and nationalist and leftist figures talked about "Jordan's resentment towards an Arab-regional axis that announces a clear alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood groups emerging in the Arab revolution countries."

During these meetings, the details of which were given to Al-Hayat, senior Jordanian officials expressed fear of "a Brotherhood regime in Syria." They also talked about "some Gulf states' concern over the level of regional intervention in Syria in favor of its accession to extremist alliances."

Al-Hayat published details of undeclared meetings held between political activists and the Jordanian monarch, who warned against the formation of a new Arab coalition dominated by "extremism."

Secretary General of the Social Leftist Movement Khaled Kalaldeh attended one of these meetings and said, "Jordan is concerned over Arab countries that are seeking to ignore Jordan on the one hand, while hoping that Syria will join with them on the other."

But, during similar meetings held recently, Jordanian officials revealed the country’s adoption of a new approach toward the Syrian crisis, an approach that is different from previous ones officially that had been adopted until mid-year. According to these officials, the survival of the Syrian regime "is much better than the rule of the extremist religious groups, which implies a raging civil war that could last for years and directly affect Jordan."

According to these, this approach "stems from the fact that Jordan is recently sensing the Western powers' bias toward the option of Assad's departure."

However, Jordan's refusal to arm the opposition or participate in any military action against Syria has not changed, according to a Jordanian official, who revealed to Al-Hayat his country's readiness to provide greater political support for the Syrian opposition to face the "extremist" and active military movements.

In return for this support, Jordan requires — according to the same official — three things: "The unity of Syria's land and people, the participation of all of the Syrian components and communities in determining the future of their country, and the preservation of the uniformity of the institution of the Syrian army as a single force," which basically means the non-recognition of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) troops.

For his part, the spokesman for the Jordanian government, Minister Samih Maaytah, said yesterday [Dec. 19] that "any negative scenario or option regarding the Syrian crisis is probable in the absence of a political solution between all parties."

He said that "there are parties (which he did not specify) that wanted Jordan to be in this or that camp," adding that Jordan "has paid the price" of its position on the Syrian situation.

He continued, "If there is no quick political solution, then the first stages in Syria will probably be more difficult and a negative situation might be on its horizon."

It should be noted that there are two main borders crossings between Jordan and Syria, along with 360 km-long border [about 224 miles]. The first is in the city of Ramtha, facing the city of Daraa on the Syrian side, and the second is the Jaber corssing, facing Nasib on the Syrian side.

Daraa is only 11 km [about 7 miles] away from Ramtha, and most of the citizens of the Jordanian city transfer goods from Syria to Jordan. The volume of trade exchange between the two countries (before the revolution) is estimated at more than one million dinars [$1,407,460] per day, according to official statistics.

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Found in: syrian, muslim, islamist, islamic movements
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