Fear of an Iranian land corridor extending from Tehran to Beirut through Iraq and Syria is not only shared by Washington and Riyadh, but also Amman. Jordan’s King Abdullah has recently voiced his concern over Iran’s Shia Crescent and commended Saudi Arabia’s role in curbing Tehran’s influence in the Middle East.
In response to a question on the Shia Crescent, King Abdullah said Thursday: "The term that I use now is Iranian Crescent, because I think the challenge that we’ve had is seeing religion used as a tool through politics."
Saudi Arabia was assuming a positive role in the Middle East and was drawing “red lines” for Iran’s worrying activities, he noted.
During a discussion session with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, King Abdullah stressed that King Salman bin Abdulaziz was leading an unprecedented proactive Saudi role in the Middle East.
As for Iranian interference in Arab affairs, he said: “The Saudi policy is to say: the red lines are here.”
King Abdullah pointed to Tehran’s meddling in a number of Arab countries, warning of its exploitation of militias and its use of religion in regional conflicts.
He added that Saudi Arabia was not the only country concerned about Iran’s destabilizing activities, but also all states in the region, “especially after we saw the repercussions of these policies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.”
The Jordanian monarch said he did not believe that Iran would change its foreign policy, which was adopted decades ago.
“We believe in Jordan that dialogue is the best way to solve problems, but the policy of Iran poses major challenges in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen,” he noted, emphasizing his concern about the future of Lebanon, which has suffered significantly during the past decades.
“We do not want these (Iranian) trends to create new problems inside Lebanon,” he stated.
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.
“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.
In an interview with The Washington Post in April, King Abdullah said the IRGC were 70 kilometers (43 miles) the Jordanian borders.
Davos as platform
Saudi-led coalition is at war with Yemen's Houthi terrorists. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Iran of providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the Shia terrorists, including a ballistic missile fired at the Saudi capital on Nov. 4 and on other occasions.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has described Iran’s supply of rockets to the Houthis as “direct military aggression” that could be an act of war.
Davos has been also a platform for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to criticize Iran.
“In the Middle East, we have two competing visions. Vision of light ... and we have a vision of darkness, and the vision of darkness is sectarianism, it’s trying to restore an empire that was destroyed thousands of years ago, it’s using sectarianism and terrorism in order to interfere in the affairs of other countries,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, told a panel at the forum, in reference to Iran.
“History has shown that light always prevails over darkness,” he added.
King Abdullah’s remarks have shed light on the threat Iran and its Shia Crescent pose to the region and the world, observers told The Baghdad Post.
The Jordanian monarch’s statements also reaffirm the vital role Saudi Arabia to unite Arab countries to counter Tehran’s influence in the region, they concluded.