Washington's Interlocutor: Jordan, Syria & the Rehabilitation of Bashar Al-Assad

After the historical level of dismay that accompanied the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is clear that Washington is intent on more carefully calibrating its relationship with Syria.

Washington's Interlocutor: Jordan, Syria & the Rehabilitation of Bashar Al-Assad

Updated as of March 12th, 2021.


Abstract

As the international diplomatic rehabilitation of Syria begins in earnest, Amman has become a useful and indirect interlocutor to spare western powers embarrassment with their own domestic populations, effecting plausible deniability at the same time as providing a possible re-entry point into Syria in the future. Jordan has strong economic, security and foreign policy motivations to spearhead such a role.

Acting as a node between Syria, Moscow and Washington, Jordan's rapprochement with Bashar Al-Assad also seeks to contain Iranian ambitions in Syria and, critically, in Lebanon. After the historical level of dismay that accompanied the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is clear that Washington is intent on more carefully calibrating its relationship with Syria.

Introduction

Jordan has a 367 kilometer border with Syria. The United Nations says Jordan has hosted around 650,000 Syrian refugees, while the Kingdom places the number as closer to 1.3 million (Middle East Eye, 2021). An estimated 6.7 million Syrians are estimated to have fled their homes, with 6.6 million displaced and up to 13 million in need of urgent humanitarian help (Hamidi, 2021). Inside Syria, an estimated 80% of the population live in poverty (Ibid). Around half a million individuals were killed in the civil war (Middle East Eye, 2021).