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As thaw seen in Jordan-Syria ties, pundits give credit to Amman’s ‘wisely balanced’ policy

By Mohammad Ghazal - Aug 28,2017 - Last updated at Aug 28,2017

AMMAN — Relations between Jordan and Syria are moving in a positive direction in light of new realities in Syria in the field and change in the tone of regional and international powers on how to deal with the situation in Syria, pundits said Monday.

Jordan, which maintained a relationship with the Syrian regime since 2011 by keeping its embassy open in Damascus and allowing Syria's embassy to remain operating in Amman, has followed a “wisely balanced policy in handling the situation that left options open”, the observers told The Jordan Times. 

Following the recent military developments in Syria, the policy turned out to be “pragmatic”, they said.

None of the regional and international powers at this stage call for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad and these players, including Jordan, are pressing for a political solution that preserves the unity of Syria, they said.

"Jordan and Syria need each other at all levels…It is time for a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries…we sense positive signals issued from both sides for enhanced relationship," Jamal Al Shalabi, a professor of political science at the Hashemite University, told The Jordan Times on Monday.

"The two countries cannot but have close cooperation at the economic and the security level to start with, and in spite of all the pressures on Jordan from regional and international players, the country succeeded in keeping the minimum level of communication with the Syrians, which is balanced and wise policy," Shalabi added.

The Syrian regime, supported by Iran, Russia and Lebanon's Hizbollah, was capable of achieving important victories that changed the rules of the game, he said, adding that the Jordanian position on Syria is witnessing a positive tone that is in sync with that of other international powers such as the UK and France.

"The political logic necessitates letting go of the past attitudes and starting afresh," he added.

Syria President Adviser Buthayna Shaban has said at a recent meeting with a Jordanian delegation of unionists and activists in Damascus that the visit by the delegation was a step in the right direction, adding that there was a continued "pulse" in the relationship between Jordan and Syria, according to the Syrian News Agency (SANA).

Musa Shteiwi, director of the University of Jordan’s (UJ) Centre of Strategic Studies (CSS), said the July tripartite agreement between Jordan, the US and Russia to back a ceasefire in the southwest of Syria was key to the start of putting ties back on the right track.

“This deal would not have succeeded without the approval of the Syrian regime…It became more evident over the past few months that ties have been improving for the key mutual interests,” Shteiwi said on Monday.

“We should not raise our expectations, but we will see a gradual improvement due to continued coordination, joint action and mutual understanding in a way that serves the interests of both countries,” he added.

At the political level, progress will be slower, he said, adding: “The conflict in Syria is still not over but we are likely to see more positive signals between the two countries and tangible measures in this respect including the possible opening of the [Jaber] border crossing.”

Fayez Dweiri, a retired major general and a military analyst, agreed that Jordan maintained a certain level of relationship with both Damascus and the Syrian opposition including the Free Syrian Army and other groups that only included Syrians who hail from Syrian tribes.

“Since the start of the crisis in 2011 and even when the Arab League froze Syria’s membership, Jordan requested an exception due to the sensitivity of its situation” as a neighbour of Syria and a host of around 1.3 million Syrians, Dweiri said.

The military achievements and developments on the ground especially after the clear support by Russia, Iran and Hizbollah of the regime have forced many regional and international powers to change their stands, the general said.

“When Jordan kept a relationship with the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian tribal militant groups, it was meant to protect its borders, but at the same time, it did not completely sever ties with the regime,” he said.


“Even America’s stance towards Syria has changed and Saudi Arabia is busy handling other files including Yemen; and Egypt, since Abdel Fattah Al Sisi came into power in 2013, started moving towards having positive ties with Syria. What was unacceptable yesterday, might be very acceptable tomorrow,” Dweiri added.

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