Tags: jordan | syria | us | troops | weapons

Jordan Does Not Welcome US Troops, Weapons

Saturday, 29 Jun 2013 12:11 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Jordanians are not comfortable about U.S. troops, weapons, and equipment in their country, even though Washington says the build up is there to help an ally protect itself from a spillover of violence in Syria.

The United States has kept F-16 warplanes and Patriot missiles in Jordan since a joint military exercise ended on June 20, and a defense official says Washington now has 1,000 troops in the country, reports France 24.

Analyst Oraib Rintawi, who runs the Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies, said the United States' military presence "is linked to plots and conspiracies against their neighbors, which would impact the country itself."

Jordan is still stable and secure, and for Washington, protecting the country's stability is core to its strategy in the Middle East. But Jordanians do not welcome the American presence, he said, "even if they say they want to protect the country."

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Amman to meet with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas while seeking to revive Middle East peace talks, but Jordan has said it does not want to interfere in the Syrian matter.

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur last week denied a Los Angeles Times report saying the Central Intelligence Agency and special forces are training Syrian rebels in southwest Jordan.

"The only Syrians we are dealing with in our country are refugees," said Nsur. "There is no training in our country whatsoever of Syrian opposition forces... the only Syrians we are dealing with in our country are refugees," he told journalists.

Lawmakers in Jordan also reject foreign forces in the country, said MP Khalil Atiyeh, the deputy house speaker.

"Jordanians do not think there are threats from Syria," he said. "But we understand the nature and requirements of US-Jordanian relations and that Washington wants to protect its interests in the region as well as its allies."

People in Jordan also fear Syrian retaliation if U.S. troops remain, said political writer Labib Kamhawi.

"The US weapons and troops have been deployed to Jordan as a precautionary measure, but this could be seen by Syria as an act of aggression, which makes people here worried," he said.

Jordan's King Abdullah II vowed this month to defend his country from the war in Syria, saying the country is capable of taking necessary measures to protect itself.

And while some media reports have said Washington is planning to enforce a no-fly over Syria from Jordan, the White House ruled that out, saying it was too expensive and dangerous.

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