What lies behind Jordan’s announcement of thwarting Iranian plot from Syria

The Jordanian army conducting exercises (The Jordanian Armed Forces)

The Jordanian army conducting exercises (The Jordanian Armed Forces)


Just before the commencement of the Arab Summit in Bahrain, Jordan announced the thwarting of a “plot” to smuggle arms to aid opponents of the monarchy, originating from Syria, late in March, in a timing that cannot be disconnected from Arab communications with the Syrian regime, led by Amman.

One day prior to the 33rd Arab Summit kicking off on Thursday, May 16, which featured the Syrian file on its agenda, Jordanian security sources revealed to Reuters an attempt by Iran-backed factions to send weapons to a cell affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, linked to Palestinian resistance factions.

While Jordanian sources confirmed that most of the smuggled weapons were intended for the West Bank, some weapons, including those seized in March, were designated for use in Jordan by the cell allied with activists from the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

The purpose of the “plot,” according to Jordanian sources, is to “destabilize Jordan, which could become a regional flashpoint as it hosts a US military base, and borders Israel as well as Syria and Iraq.”

Despite the war in Gaza dominating the agenda of the Manama Summit, the Syrian file was present, as confirmed by the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, on Wednesday, who disclosed decisions regarding Syria at the summit.

The timing of Jordan’s announcement of the arrest of the cell and the seizure of weapons indicates clear Jordanian displeasure with the Syrian regime and Iran, also confirming Jordan’s approach to invoking the risks of expanding Iranian influence at the Arab Summit.

Concurrently, the meeting of the Arab Liaison Committee about Syria, which was scheduled in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in May, has been postponed amidst news of a Jordanian role behind postponing the meeting, due to the Syrian regime’s non-responsiveness to the Arab initiative.

After momentum, Jordan proceeds cautiously

Jordanian political analyst Salah Malkawi, close to decision-making circles, told Enab Baladi that Jordan is proceeding cautiously regarding communications with the Syrian regime, especially amid Jordanian diplomacy’s recent focus on developments in Gaza.

The committee, consisting of foreign ministers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, held its first meeting in August 2023 in Cairo, charged with contacting the Syrian regime, counteracting drug smuggling, refugee return, and advancing a political solution, following the Arab rapprochement with the Syrian regime.

The committee was formed by a decision of the Arab foreign ministers in May 2023, with a statement of formation then emphasizing the need to take practical and effective steps gradually towards resolving the crisis, in line with the Security Council resolution 2254 and direct dialogue with the Syrian regime to reach a comprehensive solution to the crisis.

Jordan in the crosshairs of Iranian targeting

Regarding the announcement of thwarting arms smuggling, Malkawi affirmed that Jordan was not surprised by Iran’s attempt to target it, noting that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had established a committee or department specializing in Jordanian affairs three years ago, saying, “Since then, Jordan has been convinced that it is in the crosshairs of Iranian targeting.”

He considered the “Iranian plot” to be not new, as Tehran tends to stir chaos on the Jordanian border and within as well, utilizing spiteful elements inside Jordan, as he described.

The political analyst described the claim that the smuggled weapons from Syria were intended for the West Bank as “ridiculous,” stating that “obtaining weapons and explosives inside the West Bank is much easier than smuggling them through Jordan”.

However, the Israeli army had spoken in March of thwarting Iranian attempts to smuggle large batches of advanced weapons including explosive fragmentation devices and anti-tank mines to activists in the West Bank for use in attacks against Israeli targets.

Jordan complains of increased drug and weapons smuggling attempts from the Syrian border, accusing militias linked to the Syrian regime and Iran of standing behind them, aimed at extorting it and the Arab states, specifically the Arab Gulf states.


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