Will Jordan Move Through Moscow to Stop Iranian Expansion in Syrian North?

Durin the past few hours Assad regime, backed by Iranian militias intensified their raids in the neighborhoods of Daraa Al-Balad in the south of Syria.

The Forth Division has targeted the besieged Daraa Al-Balad with mortar bombs, machine guns and rockets. Meanwhile, the Ancient al-Omari Mosque has been targeted with artillery, which bombardment coincided with failed attempts to enter the city.

Local media quoted a source on the negotiating committee that Iranian militias were working to thwart the negotiating process under way in the region to end the military campaign.

The Syrian regime began 61 days ago to blockade Daraa Al-balad, amid severe shortage of basic materials for life, drinking water and medicine, and that came following demands by Iranian militias, together with the Assad regime, for full control over the area and the displacement of its inhabitants.

“The new round of negotiations launched on Monday Aug. 23, between the Central Committee of Daraa representing the people, the forces of the regime and the Russian delegation has again stalled, and no agreement has been reached,” Ahrar Horan Union said. “The negotiations have faltered due to the intransigence of the regime and the escalation of military action that aim at increasing pressure on the Central Committee of Daraa to accept its terms,” according to the union.

Reliable sources from Daraa Al-Balad confirmed to Mena that “Negotiations between the Central Committee, on the one hand, and the regime, on the other, under Russian auspices, are still complicated, without any solution or agreement being reached.”

“General Hussam Luqa, the head of the security committee that belongs to the Syrian regime in the south insists on handing over all the weapons of Daraa’s men,” the sources added.

“Ahmed Al- Oude, the Commander of VIII Brigade of Fifth Corps has once again suggested to the regime the idea of joining the armed men of Daraa to the Fifth Corps groups. This proposal is supported by Russians but was categorically rejected by the Iranian regime and militias,” the sources pointed out.

Regime militias have reinforced their presence with new forces in Al-Rey area near the town of Al-Yadouda west of Daraa on Monday.

It is noteworthy that the Russians presented a “road-map” to the negotiating delegation, which provided for the deployment of regime police members in Deraa. The road-map also provided for two other terms “to be negotiated in the coming days,” namely, handing over the arms of the opposition to the regime, displacing opponents unwilling to settle to the north of Syria, and granting 15 days to the parties to reach to an agreement.

Jordanian Mediation

On the other side, the recent development in Daraa revealed that the Syrian south is on the priority list of the regional countries that are concerned about the Syrian crisis. After the Russian failure to reach a solution that guarantees peace in the region, Jorda moved since it is afraid that Iran might exploit the tension in that area, and that Iranian militias will increase presence near the Jordanian borders. For that regard, the King of Jordan Abdullah II has met the Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed the Syrian file.

Observers believe that the Jordanian move is a follow-up to developments in the south of Syria, particularly since it was one of the guarantors of the settlement agreement between the Syrian regime and the Daraa factions in the summer of 2018.

Firas Faham, a researcher at Jusoor Center for Studies, confirmed that “the Jordanian move towards Russia comes within the framework of Jordanian mediation, which the Kingdom is carrying out on behalf of an entire axis that includes the United States, some EU countries and Israel.”

“Jordanian mediation is looking into giving Russia Some economic gains, such as limited support for the reconstruction of Syria, in return for responding to controlling Iranian militias in Syria,” the researcher said.

“Russia is using the Iranian militias’ card to blackmail the neighboring countries of Syria, which have fears of Iranian penetration,” he added, noting that “what made Jordan lead the mediation is its encouraging experiences with Russia, where a Russian-Jordanian understanding in 2017, paved the way to reach the South Agreement in the summer of 2018.

It is noteworthy that the “Washington Post” newspaper confirmed a few days ago, that Jordan seeks to play a role in settling the situation in Syria. The newspaper revealed that King Abdullah suggested during his last meeting with Biden in Washington, that “a group of countries consisting of the United States, Russia, Israel, Jordan and other countries agree on a road map to restore sovereignty and unity in Syrian territory.

Russia and Iranian Expansion

Jordanian experts believe that the settlement agreement in Daraa in 2018 was aimed at avoiding the Iranian presence’s threat to Jordan’s national security, and that the recent developments in the Syrian southern governorate are returning things to what they were before the settlement, especially with the deterioration and exacerbation of the security situation.

Badr Al-Mad, a professor of political science at the German-Jordanian University, stated that “for Jordan, Russia is the key to the solution and the reliable ally for framing Iranian behavior in the region, and thus stability of the security situation and its positive impact on the interests of countries, including Jordan.”

“The meeting of King Abdullah and Putin may lead to pressure on the Syrian regime through its relations with Moscow to limit the access of Iranian-backed armed militias to the kingdom’s borders,” Al-Madi explained, considering that Jordanian-Russian relations are characterized by balance and flexibility, which allows Amman to diversify its strategic options.

It is noteworthy that Jordan has repeatedly called for a political solution to the Syrian crisis through its officials and politicians in many occasions, but at the same time it is striving to avoid any further repercussions that may affect it, as a result of the recent developments in Daraa.

On June 25, the Syrian regime forces and their affiliated militias imposed a siege on Daraa al-Balad, after the opposition refused to hand over light weapons, as it violated an agreement brokered by Russia in 2018, which stipulated the handing over of heavy and medium weapons.

It is worthwhile that Daraa governorate ranks second after Damascus and its countryside in terms of Iranian deployment, where militias are deployed in 19 points, including members of the Lebanese Hezbollah, centers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and local militias affiliated directly to Iran. Most of them are concentrated in the northern countryside, and four points in the vicinity of the city of Daraa, according to the “Iran Wire” website, which specializes in tracking Iranian activity in Syria.

In Quneitra Governorate, members of the Lebanese Hezbollah and technicians from the IRGC are deployed in ten military points, their mission is monitoring, reconnaissance and jamming.

As for Assweida, which contains four points, the Iranian militias are stationed at the Khalkhala Military Airport northeast of Assweida, the Al-Thaala airport, adjacent to Daraa Governorate, and the 127th Brigade – Special Forces.

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