Major concern for terrorists hiding among refugees
Following an inspection of Jordan’s northern border with Syria Sunday, newly installed Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz vowed to protect his government’s borders from infiltration by terrorist groups and individuals.
During the visit, al-Razzaz was briefed by representatives of the Jordanian armed forces and security services which are assigned to guard the border and deliver aid to Syrians inside their country.
In an interview with Jordan’s official news agency Petra after the visit, the prime minister maintained that “There is a security threat and we will not be able to decide or reveal who is armed or unarmed among the Syrian citizens.”
He explained that Jordan had earlier faced situations in which armed militants had slipped into Jordan together with groups of Syrian refugees.
“We do not want to repeat that again,” he said.
He stressed that the Jordanian government “fully balances between the protection of its borders and society, as well as its duty to deliver support and aid for its brothers in Syria.”
Al-Razzaz pointed out that no country in the world was opening its borders any longer to masses of refugees, decrying the fact that the international community was failing to assume its responsibility for refugees escaping armed conflict.
Jordanian political analyst Majed Toubeh told The Media Line that Jordan was carrying an enormous economic burden as a result of hosting huge numbers of refugees.
He said that Jordan could not fully open its border with Syria as it had been taken over by terrorists and drug and weapons dealers.
However, Toubeh claimed, there was a strong stream of Jordanian public opinion which demanded hosting more refugees. To that end, he confirmed that the kingdom was currently negotiating with key players to impose a truce in the southern part of Syria.
“Jordan is also requesting that different bodies of the United Nations facilitate supplying aid to Damascus through its borders,” Toubeh said, emphasizing Jordan’s role in transferring Syrian patients from Syria to hospitals in Amman and back.
He explained that there were moves toward having the Syrian government regain full control over its borders.
Disagreeing with Prime Minister Al-Razzaz’s assessment of the border situation, Jordanian parliamentarian Saleh Al-Armouty told The Media Line that Al-Razzaz’s concerns about terrorist infiltrators were somewhat exaggerated.
“Jordan is a strong country and knows how to protect its people; refugees have been here [in Jordan] for years and we haven’t sensed any terror.”
He reiterated that the kingdom had to protect these refugees “no matter what.”
“They have suffered from terror attacks and weapons that are illegal by the international law,” Al-Armouty said, adding that the Islamic world was being silent about what happening to the Syrians.
But, “the fact that there are armed groups and members among them doesn’t mean that Jordan will let go of them,” pointing out that although the neighboring villages were under the full control of armed groups, that hadn’t stopped Jordan from protecting the fleeing Syrians.
“In all cases, Jordan is formally playing the middle-person role between the conflicting parties in Syria to achieve a cease-fire, hopefully soon, “ he concluded optimistically.
To date, the Syrian conflict, which is in its eighth year, has taken the lives of about 500,000 people and displaced millions. Neighboring Jordan has absorbed more than 1.3 million of them, who live in six large camps in difficult conditions, suffering from reported shortages of food and medicine.
In the meantime, political analyst Toubeh was hopeful that the Jordanian economy would rebound once the Syrian government started rebuilding its country.
“They will buy construction materials and need other services, which will help our economy,” he said.