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Will Jordan normalize relations with Syria?

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Shehab Al Makahleh 

Special to Al Arabiya English | Monday, 4 September 2017 

Jordan has expressed optimism over the reopening of its border crossing in southern Syria, with government spokesman Mohammed Momani affirming that relations between the two sides were “heading in the right direction”.

Expressing satisfaction at increased ‘stability’ in southern Syria, the Jordanian spokesman noted late last month, “If the current situation continues and southern Syria stabilizes, it would allow for the reopening of the crossing points between the two states.”

An ‘incipient’ Jordan-Syria bonhomie

Meanwhile, a top aide to Bashar Al-Assad praised relations between the two sides in glowing terms: “Hearts in Syria and Jordan still beat for each other and this reflects the Arab people’s longing for the project of reawakening and liberation”.

The political and media adviser to Bashar Al-Assad Bouthaina Sha’aban added: “We must look at the future with optimism and this necessitates reading events that our Arab nation went through with critical eyes, without repeating mistakes of the past”.

Shaaban issued these statements on receiving a delegation from Arab Lawyers Union late last month. For his part, head of the delegation Samih Khreiss said that he only hears positive and reassuring statements from officials of the Assad regime and nothing that might adversely affect bilateral ties.

The Jordanian head of the delegation stressed that there was a common refrain among all the delegates who visited Syria. “The rejection of all that has happened in Syria thus far.” He reiterated that “If the Jordanian government would take any positive steps toward Syria, we (the Lawyer’s Union) are ready and we would support such a move to cement ties further”.

Khreiss added that during his visit to Syria he spoke with several officials of the Assad regime including Hilal Hilal, Assistant Regional Secretary of the Syrian Regional Branch of the Ba’ath Party, and Bouthaina Sha’aban.

Syrian war to be ‘over by year-end’

The head of the lawyers’ delegation also disclosed that sources in the Assad regime told them that the war in Syria will be over before the end of the year, which should raise prospects for the early reopening of the Jordanian-Syrian borders.

Jordan shares over 380 kilometer-long border with Syria, and is one of the Arab states that did not sever its diplomatic relations with the Assad regime due to “the special and unique ties between the people of both countries”. The country also played a role in brokering a truce in south western Syria, along with US and Russia, which entered into force on July 7, 2017.

The optimism of the Jordanian government over the eventual “normalization of relations” is said to have risen with a noticeable fall in the number of Syrian refugees in Jordan since the truce has come into effect.

Originally published by  Al-Arabiya English

A handout picture released by Jordanian Royal Palace shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) welcoming King Abdullah II of Jordan in Damascus on June 24, 2010. AFP PHOTO/HO/YUSSEF ALLAN