Jordan Rejects Land Offensive Against The Islamic State – For Now

Jordan Rejects Land Offensive Against The Islamic State – For Now

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The Middle East publication, al Monitor, is reporting that “Jordan is unlikely to join a land offensive against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.” While the Kingdom has intensified airstrikes against the militant group; and, no doubt their special operations/commando-style missions as well; a large-scale Jordanian ground offensive appears very unlikely — at least at this point. Al Monitor reports that “a number of deputies, retired military officers, and political figures have expressed fear that Jordan was being dragged into an open-ended war outside its borders.” Jordan’s Senate Speaker, Abdel Raouf al-Rawabdeh dismissed reports about Jordan’s future role and said on February 13, that the Kingdom “will not engage in a land war against the Islamic State; but, will continue to confront the militants. If a land operation [Coalition] is launched, then Jordan can provide logistical support.”

According to analysts interviewed by al Monitor, “a recent mobilization of Jordanian troops near the border with Iraq reportedly had nothing to do with Jordanian preparations for a potential ground invasion of Syria but, “is directly related to Jordanian concerns with respect to a possible attempt to by Syria to retake the southern Syrian city of Daraa, along the border with Jordan.”

Retired General Musa Udwan, told al Monitor, that “airstrikes alone will not defeat the extremists; and, a wider coalition should be formed to provide support for the Syrian and iraqi armies — which must lead the land offensive against the Islamic State militants. But, for this to happen, a massive land offensive must be undertaken to deal a final blow to the militants,” warned.

“For now,” al Monitor wrote, “the most direct threat to Jordan comes from so-called sleeper cells; and Islamic State sympathizers at home. Between 1,500, to 2,000 Jordanians are fighting in Syria and Iraq with the Islamic State and the the Jabhat al-Nusra. On February 16, 2015, a Jordanian Ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying that there were between 6,000 and 7,000 Salafists in Jordan, with at least an additional 2,000 sympathizers. Furthermore, al Monitor noted, a poll conducted last year by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan showed that 10 percent of Jordanians see the Islamic State as a legitimate resistance organization. Fighting religious extremism at home…has become a national priority, as the threat from the Islamic State increases,” al Monitor wrote.

Political analyst Hazem Mubeidin told al Monitor that “Jordan has no choice but to join a wider coalition in a land offensive against the Islamic State; and, that may require Amman to coordinate with the Assad [Syria] regime.” “A similar call was echoed February 19, 2015, by Jordanian political columnist Urayb al-Rintawi, who wrote that “Jordan should consider working with the Damascus [Bashar Assad] regime to combat militants close to Jordan’s borders.”

“The debate continues,” al Monitor concluded; but, “one thing is clear: Joining a land offensive, as remote a possibility as that sounds now….will polarize the Kingdom; and, present new challenges for the regime.”

My guess is that King Abdullah will try his best not to commit troops to any large-scale land offensive against the Islamic State. They will continue to conduct airstrikes; and, likely are already using special operations/commando-style — quick in-and-out raids against the Islamic State; and, substantially step up its HUMINT collection operations against the militants. But, one more, high-profile attack by the Islamic State against Jordan — and, all bets are off. V/R, RCP

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