The new Jordanian initiative for a solution in Syria: What has changed?
In late September 2022, Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ayman Safadi said that his country Amman is gathering regional and international support for an Arab-led political process to end the 11-year old war. Earlier in 2021, the Kingdom of Jordan had put forward an initiative to find a solution to the Syrian issue, which yielded little results.
This time, however, it seems that circumstances have changed as never before at the regional and international levels. This encouraged Jordan to re-launch a new initiative, hoping to find a solution in Syria. It should be noted that the most recent developments that have occurred are the Russia's dire need to reset priorities for its own foreign policy as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, Turkey’s new approach to find a way out in terms of establishing a relationship with the Syrian regime, in addition to the demonstrations that erupted in Iran, which left Tehran struggling with the internal hot issues.
Despite the above-mentioned matters, there are other major factors that push Jordan to introduce the new solution initiative in Syria, which are:
• The issue of eastern Mediterranean gas and overcoming any obstacles or challenges that could prevent Israel from exploring for gas. This does not directly concern Jordan; but rather Amman seems to be urged by either the United States or Israel to act; especially in light of the approaching Israeli-Lebanese agreement on the demarcation of the border, and the push of Western countries to Israel to increase its production and expand the invested fields. Thus, the Jordanian initiative is in the context of ensuring the Syrian regime not disrupting any exploration, extraction or excavation operations in the future.
• Talk about the Arab roots that Syria has got and about readmitting it in the Arab League is nothing more than wishful thinking rather than real attitudes. Earlier several initiatives have been put forward in this regard since launching the Arab League initiative to solve the Syrian crisis. Later on, a recent Egyptian initiative, the "New Levant" project has emerged, in addition to frequent attempts by the Gulf states to remove the Iranian influence from the region. However, all the above-mentioned efforts came under inappropriate conditions, so that they did no work at all. Any way, it is expected that the new initiative comes in order to exploit the new regional and international reality.
• Arms and drug trafficking from the Syrian territory to Jordan is a matter of great concern to the kingdom, as the latter seeks to stop smuggling operations through concluding an agreement with the regime. Recently, Amman has figured out two points: First, the regime is unable, not unwilling, to completely stop such operations, because of its inability to control the whole border areas. Second, fading concerns related to receiving large quantities of weapons by groups inside Jordan, due to the easy smuggling operations that are greatly facilitated in the Syrian-Jordanian border areas.
In general, Jordan's initiative appears as an attempt to maintain its presence as a regional and international actor. While Amman is trying to take advantage of the present condition as the regime is unwilling to make any progress, it is keen to keep the regime officials under the Jordanian scope to affect Damascus security policies, in preparation for any Jordanian intervention or potential influence in the future as circumstances dictate.