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Jordan Invites US Targets for Syrian Retaliation

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Counterbalancing with Syrians

To counterbalance with the Syrians, who so far seem flexible enough or under too much pressure to open a diplomatic or non -- diplomatic dispute with their southern Arab neighbor, Jordan kept the diplomatic and security channels of communication open with Damascus and went on record to offset its "enemy" posture, but only verbally, to make Jordan a place where words and deeds collide.

As recently as August 29, Jordan 's King Abdullah II after a meeting with Pope Francis , according to an official Vatican statement, reaffirmed that dialogue is the "only option" to end the conflict in Syria.

More than twenty two months ago, in comments in the Oval Office alongside President Obama, King Abdullah II was the first Arab leader to urge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. "I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down," he told BBC World News in an exclusive interview.

So far, Jordan declined to go public and on record in a clear-cut opposition to the imminent US strike; not excluding the military option, Information Minister Mohammad Momani said that "Jordan believes diplomatic efforts must be exhausted before Washington opts for military action," but PM Al-Nsour said there will be "no strategic" benefit in insisting on striking Syria and he as well his Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh reiterated that the territory of the kingdom "will not be a launchpad for any military operation against Syria."

Jordan's noninterference in internal Syrian affairs is the officially declared policy, but the reported training in the country of Syrian opposition fighters, the recent visit to the country by the President of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Ahmad al-Jarba, the latter's visit to southern Syria across the Jordanian borders and the reports about opening a SNC representative office in Amman after al-Jarba's meeting with Nasser Judeh, and the reported infiltration of arms and "Jihadists" from Jordan into Syria are all indications that compromise Jordan's officially declared policy of noninterference.

In April this year, Syrian President al-Assad said that Amman "is facilitating the passage of thousands of fighters into our country;" it was his first public warning to Jordan. His state TV told the Jordanians they were "playing with fire." The Syrian newspaper Al-Thawra, also said in a front-page editorial that the Jordanian government "could not claim neutrality" anymore.

Al-Assad added that he had sent envoys to the kingdom during the preceding two months to remind Amman of the two countries' shared goal of fighting the "terrorists." "The fire does not stop at our border and everyone knows that Jordan is exposed to what Syria is exposed to."

In November 2005, al-Qaeda mounted a series of devastating bomb attacks at three luxury hotels in the Jordanian capital, killing some 60 people. The attacks were said to be in retaliation for Jordan hosting training centers for the new Iraqi army and police, and for becoming a de facto logistical transit base in support of the US occupation of Iraq in 2003.

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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
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