Jordan’s position vis-à-vis the unfolding events in Syria is ambivalent. On the one hand, it is not sure whether the Syrian opposition will prevail at the end of the day, and thus adopts a prudent stance until things get clearer. On the other hand, Jordan fears that a post-Assad Syria may descend into chaos.
The official reading of the possible scenarios in months to come pushes the country to walk a fine line. Jordan has supported the Arab and international efforts to end the crisis and attended the “Friends of Syria” conference; on the other hand, Jordan has refused to pull the ambassador from Damascus and keeps tight control of its borders with Syria.
There are divisions among the Jordanian public towards the crisis in general. The pro-Syrian regime groups are active in painting a positive image of President Bashar Assad. Like the Syrian regime, these groups talk about an international conspiracy and of a need to support the Assad regime. Then there are groups that see the whole crisis in Syria within the context of the Arab Spring. They believe that getting rid of undemocratic regime, especially after the bloody crackdown on the uprising, can help the region as a whole to become democratic.
Jordan should design its foreign policy based on one assumption: The regime in Syria is doomed to fall. There will be no peaceful, orderly transfer of power. On the contrary, the most likely scenario is that Assad will have to leave under the pressure of the international community and of the “armed”, if divided, opposition.
Syria will witness anarchy for a while before things get under control. This is where Jordan needs to step in. Indeed, Amman cannot afford not to interfere. I am not talking about military intervention, which might be necessary at one point. At least Jordan should contact different opposition groups to clarify matters and send a message to the Syrian people that the Kingdom is on their side.
Jordan did not interfere in Iraq when it should have done so. The result was a diminishing influence that should be averted in the case of Syria.
At the same time, Jordan should think not only about possible scenarios but also about how to respond to them. There is talk that there is security and military staff working on plans to be implemented when time comes. This is exactly what is required at the moment if we wish to avoid the mistakes committed before the American occupation of Iraq.
It is not enough to say that Jordan adopts a balanced position; the Kingdom should formulate its positions based on national interests.