Jordan not yet ready to open border crossing with Syria

Damascus said this week the road was ready for use but , Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said he had received no request to reopen it. (Reuters)
Updated 03 August 2018

Jordan not yet ready to open border crossing with Syria

AMMAN: Jordan will reopen its border with Syria only when it is ready, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Thursday, in a signal that Amman could delay a decision that would boost President Bashar al Assad.
Billions of dollars in annual trade with Europe and the Gulf moved through the Syrian-Jordanian Nassib crossing until fighting erupted in 2011. It was captured by rebels in 2015 and its closure hurt the economy of Syria and neighboring states.
Damascus said this week the road was ready for use but Safadi said he had received no request to reopen it.
“We will deal with the request with all positiveness that serves our interests,” he told a news conference with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “Matters have to stabilize,” he said.
Safadi said he discussed reopening the crossing with Moscow. The crossing’s recapture by Syrian forces was a central goal of a campaign launched last June by the government and Russian forces to regain control of rebel-held parts of the southwest.
Russia is a crucial backer of Assad and Russian bombing was central to a campaign by Assad that forced the mainstream Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels once backed by Jordan and Assad’s Western and Arab foes to surrender.
“Jordan in principle wants open borders with all its neighbors ... But when and how (Nassib opening) this will depend on when we ensure our interests and our security,” he added.
Jordan is a US ally but Moscow wanted Amman to persuade rebels before it was retaken by government forces last month to cede control of the crossing to consolidate an accord between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last year to set up a de-escalation zone.
Washington’s decision not to intervene during the southwest campaign wrecked the accord and gave the Russians the greenlight to crush rebels in the southwest, diplomats say.
They say Amman now wants Russian guarantees to help restore stability in the sensitive southern border area where officials say a spillover of violence and radicalism poses a threat.
Before reopening the crossing, it also wants Russian military police to play a bigger role in protecting displaced civilians who want to return to areas recently won back by Syria’s army and to repel a threat from Iranian militias.
“For Russia and the regime opening the crossing will deliver a big psychological boost. They want to show everything is now quickly being normalized and the war is nearing its end,” said another diplomatic source familiar with the discussions.
Syria’s army has recovered control of most of the country, helped by Iranian-backed militias and Russian aerial bombs.
This year, they defeated insurgents in the last remaining enclaves near the cities of Homs and Damascus, swept through the southwest and regained the border with Israel and Jordan.


Iran condemns US show of support for ‘rioters’

Updated 58 min 27 sec ago

Iran condemns US show of support for ‘rioters’

  • Protests erupted in Iran on Friday, hours after it was announced the price of petrol would rise to 15,000 rials a liter
  • ‘The dignified people of Iran know well that such hypocritical remarks do not carry any honest sympathy’

TEHRAN: Iran condemned the United States’ support for “rioters” in a statement issued late Sunday, after two days of violent protests in the Islamic republic against a petrol price hike.
The foreign ministry said that it was reacting to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “expression of support... for a group of rioters in some cities of Iran and condemned such support and interventionist remarks.”
Protests erupted in Iran on Friday, hours after it was announced the price of petrol would rise to 15,000 rials a liter (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.
In a tweet on Saturday, Pompeo said in response to the demonstrations that “the United States is with you.”
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed his comments in Sunday night’s statement.
“The dignified people of Iran know well that such hypocritical remarks do not carry any honest sympathy,” Mousavi was quoted as saying.
“The acts of a rioter and saboteur group supported by the likes of (Pompeo) have no congruity with the conduct of the wise Iranian people.”
The statement blasted Washington’s “ill-intent” over its decision to reimpose sanctions on Tehran after the US withdrawal in May last year from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“It’s curious that the sympathizing is being done with the people who are under the pressure of America’s economic terrorism,” Mousavi said.

Related