Fear of an Iranian land corridor extending from Tehran to Beirut through Iraq and Syria is not only shared Washington and Riyadh, but also Amman. Jordan is anxiously watching military and security developments along its northern border with war-torn Syria.
It is particularly concerned about the presence of terrorists affiliated to Hezbollah and Iranian militias, including the Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in southern Syria.
Iran continues to consolidate its presence in southern Syria through a network of proxy forces. According to observers, there are fears that the recent buildup in the southern Syria could lead to a costly military involvement, dragging Jordan into the Syrian quagmire.
This comes as the developments in Syria, shifts of international positions, and plans set for a political solution, have altered the scene’s features and imposed new threats, including the expansion of Iran’s Shia militias’ towards the south.
The Assad regime forces and pro-Iranian militias have made significant gains in the desert since October and seized positions near the Jordanian border that were previously controlled by western backed rebel factions.
In September, King Abdullah of Jordan said he was “deeply concerned” with the situation in southern Syria.
“Our top priority is to protect our northern border against terrorists and foreign militias,” he told the state-run Petra news agency in an interview.
“Jordan is actively engaged in the international alliance to fight terrorism.”
King Abdullah said there were positive developments in the fight against ISIS in Syria and the military campaign against the terrorists “could push them south towards Jordan”.
“We are ready and capable of dealing with them in full capacity and with any escalation that might pose a danger to us, whether it is ISIS or any foreign groups fighting in Syria or operations that target civilians near our border,” he said.
He said Jordan’s border with Syria would reopen only “when the right security conditions materialize on the ground”.
“Liberating the areas from the terrorists ISIS in Iraq and Syria does not mean it is the end, because ISIS may reappear if we do not find deep-rooted solutions for the different crises that the Arab countries are experiencing,” said King Abdullah.
In an interview with The Washington Post in April, King Abdullah said the IRGC were 70 kilometers (43 miles) the Jordanian borders.
The consequences of a further loss of security in the south wouldn’t be confined to Syria alone, told Middle East Eye an Amman-based analyst, commenting anonymously as he was not authorized to speak with the press, told The Middle East Eye on Thursday.
“Leaving a void will be the collapse of southern Syria. There’ll be no more carrot, no more stick, just a reliance on Russian goodwill to keep Shia militias away from the Jordanian border,” he said.
“We need border guards in all meanings of the term,” he said. “We need them to guard our international borders and the truce lines,” he concluded.