Canada has vowed to provide Jordan with an additional USD 100 million in aid amid ongoing crisis in the Arab country’s neighboring Syria.
Canada Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement on Monday that Ottawa offered another USD 98.4 million to the Jordan’s government to help the kingdom cope with the influx of Syrian refugees.
The aid followed Baird’s visit to Jordan on Sunday and his meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh over the Syria unrest.
Ottawa’s move came after Pentagon said on Saturday that the US will keep its F-16 jets and patriot missile batteries in Jordan after the joint military exercises with the kingdom this month.
This is while reports say that US government was preparing to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.
On June 14, Obama ordered his administration to provide the militants with weapons, a day after the US claimed that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the militants and thus crossed Washington’s “red line.” Damascus has rejected the allegation as “lies.”
The delivery of the weapons, which include assault rifles, shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades and antitank missiles, would be carried out through the CIA, reports say.
Last week, a US defense official also stated that Washington would keep a unit of US Marines on amphibious ships off the Red Sea coast after consultations with Jordan.
The US-based Wall Street Journal had earlier reported that the no-fly zone could be implemented from Jordan.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday any attempt to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria using F-16 fighter jets and Patriot missiles from Jordan would violate international law.
Russia, which has vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions aimed at pressing for a no-fly zone in Syria, vehemently opposes any foreign military intervention in the Syrian conflict.
“There have been leaks from Western media regarding the serious consideration to create a no-fly zone over Syria through the deployment of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and F-16 jets in Jordan,” said Lavrov, speaking at a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart.
“You don’t have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law,” he said.
The United States has moved Patriot missiles and fighter jets into Jordan, officially as part of an annual exercise in the past week, but making clear that the military assets could stay on when the war games are over.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that a US military proposal to arm rebels fighting against Assad also calls for a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that could be enforced by US and allied planes on Jordanian territory.
Lavrov also rejected US claims that Syria has used “small amounts” of sarin on rebels, saying there was no need for that because government forces were making steady advances on the ground.
“The regime, as the opposition is saying out in the open, is enjoying military success on the ground,” he said.
“What sense is there for the regime to use chemical arms, especially in such small amounts?” Lavrov asked.
Russia said on Friday it was unconvinced by US allegations that Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people.
US President Barack Obama’s administration said on Thursday it would boost military support for the opposition as a result.
JERUSALEM – Israel on Friday banned 25 Al-Aqsa compound guards from the vicinity of the mosque for varying periods of time.
Samer Qweider was banned from entering Al-Aqsa until the end of Ramadan for allegedly verbally abusing rightists who tried to get into the compound.
Qweider told Ma’an that on May 28 he was banned from entering the compound for six days, and accordingly he returned to his job on Monday. After two days of working regularly he was told by Israeli police he was not allowed to enter the compound until Ramadan ends in mid-August.
Another guard, Fadi Bakeer, said that Israel wanted to “silence” the guards, and added that any guard who tried to stop rightists from entering the holy compound would be banned.
A religious department worker said that guards are pressured, arrested, beaten, banned, and fined. He added that his department has pleaded for King Abdullah II of Jordan for help.
Israeli authorities have allowed the Jordanian leadership a degree of control over the holy Muslim site as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher due to its historical connections to Jerusalem.
Israel seized the West Bank including East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967.
- Palestine: The global march to Jerusalem to launch tomorrow in 40 states & demands to flock to Al-Aqsa Mosque (realisticbird.wordpress.com)
Turkey has deported at least 600 Syrians staying at a refugee camp near the border after clashes with Turkish military police in a protest over living conditions, a Turkish official said on Thursday.
“These people were involved in yesterday’s violence, they were seen by the security cameras in the camp,” an official in the camp told Reuters by telephone. “Between 600 and 700 have been deported. The security forces are still looking at the footage, and if they see more they will deport them.”
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency says a riot has broken out at a refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan after some of the refugees were told they could not return home.
Ali Bibi, a UNHCR liaison officer in Jordan, says it’s unclear how many refugees were involved in Thursday’s melee at the Zaatari camp. The riot broke out after some Syrians in the camp tried to board buses to go back to their country.
He says Jordanian authorities refused to let the buses head to the border because of ongoing clashes between the rebels and President Bashar Assad’s forces in southern Syria, just across the border from Jordan.
Bibi says there were no immediate reports of injuries.
He says Jordanian authorities promised to organize the refugees’ return home at another time.
Over 70,000 people have been killed during Syria’s two year old uprising.
(Reuters, AP, Al-Akhbar)
Jordanian King Abdullah II’s recent visit to Moscow crowned a series of steps that Amman has been taking over the past few months, signalling a shift away from its traditional allies like Washington and Israel.
Until recently, Jordan was in the warm embrace of oil-rich Gulf Arab countries that, prepared to admit the Hashemite kingdom into their Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), would then shower it with billions in aid.
This is while Amman offered the services of its security and intelligence forces, coordinating closely with both Washington and Tel Aviv in a variety of areas, not least of which the unfolding crisis in Syria.
According to informed sources, last July 2012, Amman hosted a gathering of security officials from the US, Qatar, and Israel, who recommended setting up training camps for Syrian opposition fighters near the Jordanian city of Irbid.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted as much when he acknowledged in October 2012 that dozens of American soldiers were deployed along the Jordanian-Syrian border, explaining that “these units are tasked with establishing a base in Jordan and to assist the Syrian refugees and Jordanian armed forces to confront the dangers stemming from Syria’s chemical weapons.”
In the last few months Amman has begun to reassess its alliances in light of the Syrian crisis, perhaps embarking on a process of strategic realignment, moving closer to Iraq and Russia, at the expense of its traditional allies.
The prospective threat posed by the powerful Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and the more radical Islamist currents prompted the army and intelligence to convince the palace not to go along with Washington’s plan.
Amman even went so far as to completely close its border with Syria, preventing fighters and weapons from crossing it.
This came at a high cost for Jordan, as Saudi Arabia and Qatar – who were mobilizing all the forces they could muster against the Bashar al-Assad regime – to halt their support for the kingdom, causing a serious economic crisis in the country.
Iraq quickly moved in to try to fill the void and revive its once close ties with Jordan. An official visit to Amman by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the end of 2012 led to the signing of several lucrative deals that would see cheap Iraqi oil once again flowing to Jordan.
As for Jordan’s relationship with Iran, “that’s a tough one for us,” says a high-level Jordanian security official, pointing out that the realignment underway may go far, “but it has its limits, for there are lines that cannot be crossed, and Iran lies outside these boundaries.”
In light of all this, King Abdullah II’s visit to Moscow on Tuesday, February 19 cannot in any way be seen simply as a routine call.
For its part, Jordan is seeking a counterbalance to US influence, for fear that Washington is preparing to force Amman into accepting a confederation with the Palestinians as a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Russia, on the other hand, sees this as an opportunity to bring Amman into its orbit, particularly on the Syrian question, where Moscow is in the process of pushing for a settlement.
Jordan’s diplomatic support in the Arab arena and the valuable intelligence it can provide on the Syrian opposition make it a critical resource for the Russians.
BEIRUT — The Hamas Movement categorically denied some news reports claiming that the head of its political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, had asked the Jordanian monarch to tell the US administration that Hamas accepts the two-state solution with Israel.
“We, in Hamas, affirm that such allegations are untrue,” its information office stated in a press release.
It added that during his meeting last Monday with king Abdullah in Amman Mashaal did not table at all the issue of the two-state solution.
According to the press release, Mashaal discussed with the Jordanian king the Palestinian situation in general as well as the national reconciliation and the events in the region.
Mashaal also reiterated his Movement’s keenness on Palestinian unity and its refusal of all plans about the alternative homeland.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has confirmed that US troops have been dispatched to the Jordan-Syrian border to help bolster the former’s military capabilities in case violence escalates in the volatile region.
”We have a group of our forces there working to help build a headquarters there and to insure that we make the relationship between the United States and Jordan a strong one so that we can deal with all the possible consequences of what’s happening in Syria,” Panetta said.
Panetta’s comments came during a NATO conference of defense ministers in Brussels, where he said the US had been working with Jordan to monitor chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria and help the country deal with Syrian refugees crossing over the border.
The US has previously used Jordan as a base for other Syria-related military activities. In May of this year, Washington held military drills in Jordan dubbed ‘Operation Eager Lion,’ which saw around 12,000 troops from several nations participate in undisclosed training exercises.
The Obama administration denied accusations in the Syrian media that the exercises were a threat against President Assad, and maintained that the action focused on the treatment of refugees, anti-terrorism tactics and naval interception of smuggling vessels.
Following the operation, a small US contingent stayed behind to establish the center in Amman, paving the way for the arrival of more personnel.
“We have been working closely with our Jordanian partners on a variety of issues related to Syria for some time now,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said. Citing Washington’s concern over Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, he said that the US has been planning “various contingencies, both unilaterally and with our regional partners.”
The Syrian conflict took an unexpected turn last week when mortar fire struck across the border at neighboring Turkey, sparking outcry from the Turkish government which subsequently returned fire. Turkey deployed 25 new F-16 fighter jets to reinforce its borders this week as NATO pledged support if the conflict spills into the country again.
Since uprisings against the embattled President Assad began last year, the UN estimated that more than 20,000 people were killed in the conflict and some 700,000 fled Syria to seek refuge in neighboring countries.
Thousands of Jordanians have taken to the streets across the country in protest against a hike in fuel prices for the second time in three months.
Chanting anti-government slogans, the protesters from the capital, Amman, to the southern city of Maan rallied late Saturday, demanding the immediate resignation of the country’s Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh.
“The royal palace is standing between the people and their rights,” the protesters chanted.
The Jordanian government said the fuel price rise was necessary, arguing that the costly fuel subsidies have caused a rampant budget deficit.
Jordanians, however, blame the royal palace and corruption as the real reasons behind Jordan’s economic crisis.
The Saturday evening demonstrations, organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, were the largest to hit the country in months.
Jordanians have been holding street protests since January 2011, calling for political reforms, transfer of royal power to the people and an end to corruption.
Since the demonstrations began, the Jordanian King has sacked two prime ministers to appease the protesters.
The king has also amended some articles of the 60-year-old constitution, ostensibly granting the parliament a more assertive role in the decision-making process.
- Jordanian Websites Go Dark in Protest of Proposed Legislation to Censor Internet (techpresident.com)
- Jordan hikes gasoline prices for second time this year (worldbulletin.net)
- Jordanians detained after tomato attack on PM motorcade (dailystar.com.lb)
- Jordanians Protest Internet Censorship Law With SOPA-Style Blackout (eff.org)
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said on Wednesday that one of its senior members was assassinated in Damascus, blaming the Zionist entity’s secret service for the attack.
The announcement, posted on the group’s official website said it was unknown who killed Kamal Ranaja.
Hamas said it was launching “an investigation to discover who is behind the despicable crime.”
The statement added that Ranaja “was martyred in the service of his cause and his people,” vowing that his blood would not be wasted.
For his part, A Hamas official in Lebanon blamed the Zionist entity’s Mossad for the death of Ranaja.
The leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that “a group of people entered the home of Ranaja (also known as Nizar Abu Mujhad), and killed him,” Israeli website Ynet reported.
According to information that we have gathered, the Mossad is behind the attack.”
Shortly after the assassination was announced, the new pan-Arabic television station, Al-Mayadeen, reported that he used to serve as aide to Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas member who was likely killed by Mossad in a hotel in Dubai in the year of 2010.
A delegation of senior Hamas politburo officials including Khaled Mashaal and Mousa Abu Marzook is set to arrive in Jordan to attend Ranaja’s funeral.
The group was meant to visit Jordan over the weekend or early next week but its members decided to push up their visit in order to attend the funeral. They are slated to meet Jordanian officials and possibly also King Abdullah II.