For the countries immediately surrounding Syria, the influx of refugees escaping the fighting is not the only issue resulting from the Syrian civil war. For Jordan, the presence of the Iranian militias on its borders is a threat that it cannot tolerate.
During a press conference late Sunday, government spokesman Mohammad al Moumani said having the Iranian militia on its borders was “unacceptable and rejected”. Additionally, the Jordanian official hinted that the presence of these militias would not be tolerated by its allies, which include the United States and Israel. However, the official did not directly name these countries in his statement.
“We consider this a strategic threat. We will take measures necessary to ensure the stability and security of our borders,” said Moumani.
Jordan is a Sunni nation, and it considers Iran and its Shiite groups to be a major threat to its borders. Unofficially, Jordan supports the capturing of borders by Syrian authorities in order to reopen trade between these two countries. While Moumani did indicate that Jordan was interested in resuming trade relations with Syria, he didn’t give any details regarding plans to reopen its borders with Syria.
On Thursday, Syrian government forces and their allies captured a key area along the Jordan border, as part of a larger push against the rebel forces. That move closed major smuggling points used by rebels to bring weapons and fighters from Jordan into Syria.
One of the impacts of the closing of the Jordian border to Syria back in 2016, is that refugees are being stranded in an inhospitable desert location between the two countries. They are being left without the basic necessities, including food, water, and medical care.
UN Deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters that “some people are reportedly attempting to leave the area, risking further danger and deprivation in an inhospitable desert location.”
Haq also indicated that UN agencies are concerned about the current situation, because 50,000 people are stranded in this border area without security or protection.
“The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to take the necessary steps to prevent further harm to the frightened and highly vulnerable individuals stranded at the border,” said Haq.
UN agencies have indicated that they will support Jordanian authorities, as they attempt to care for these individuals. Critics argue that too much control has been given to the Jordan military over this area of the border and that refugees are paying the price. Jordan closed its border to Syria after a 2016 car bombing.
The larger issue seems to be who is in control of the borders and what might be slipping through into and out of Syria. This militias have ties to Iran, which again focuses the international community on Iran’s role of destabilizing the region.