AMMAN: Jordan and Syria are facing the most serious political crisis since their new leaders took over five years ago and promised to boost bilateral ties that were often strained during the era of their late fathers, according to diplomats and analysts.
Some even suggest current tensions could slip into a military showdown by year-end if Syria does not move to demarcate its "leaky" border with Jordan, return 125 kilometers of land Amman claims has been seized by Syria over the years, and stops cross-border infiltrations by radicals, allegedly often operating with tacit support from Syria's intelligence agencies.
The tension has been brewing for months, even before Jordan announced in March the arrest of a group of Al-Qaeda- linked "terrorists," and claimed some had come from Syria to stage the first bio-terror attack against the General Intelligence Department, claims Syria has denied.
But it was only recently, as Syria was subjected to U.S. and Israeli pressure, that Jordanian officials, feeling unprecedented support from Washington, began talking about the "silent crisis" with Syria, in private meetings with foreign visitors, as well as Arab and Western diplomats.
Another front opened up by the incompetent diplomacy of the US, I guess.
WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (AFP) - The United States wants UN chief Kofi Annan to present a "tough" report this week on Syria's compliance with a UN Security Council resolution demanding respect for Lebanese sovereignty that says Damascus must do more to meet the world body's demands, US Secretary of State Colin Powell told AFP on Wednesday.
Powell would not comment on what the US believed would be in the report which Annan is to present to the Council on Friday but said Washington did not think Damascus had done enough to meet the requirements of the resolution which calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.
Well, that does figure. Syria does still have 15,000 troops left in Lebanon. Withdrawing 3000 is a good start -but only a start. If Syria expects that their partial withdrawal will get them off the hook, hopefully they're wrong.
I have faith that the US will consider the pullout inadequate. What I wonder about is the reaction to the UN resolution's co-sponsor :France. Will the French attempt to straddle the divide and agree with Syria that this represents some kind of exceptional progress which should be rewarded by the community of nations.
Of course, any progress obtained- real, on the ground results, not diplomatic platitudes about progress- throught the UN is a display of exceptional and awesome progress!
The Economist has an overview/analysis of recent events.
It is by no means certain that the crackdown on jihadis, along with this week's cosmetic withdrawal of a few thousand Syrian soldiers, and earlier promises to seal its border with Iraq better, will be enough to get the superpower off Syria's back.