Jordan may finally be getting the attention it deserves.
Two recent articles in the New York Times (here and here) and one more in Foreign Policy (here) over the past week are bringing attention to the precarious nature of the Jordanian security situation and the growing role that country’s Islamists are playing in Syria. As refugees stream across the border into Jordan, they pass Jordanian fighters heading in the opposite direction.
Estimates of the number of Jordanians fighting in Syria differ depending on the source, but most agree that it is quite large – and growing. There may be as many as 1,200 according to some reports.
The Jordanian government is attempting to walk a fine line of providing support to “moderates” while avoiding more extreme outfits, such as al-Qaeda-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Perhaps an impossible task.
As al-Qaeda continues its strategy of recruiting from Jordan’s “East Bank” tribal families in southern cities, an historic bastion of Hashemite government support, King Abdallah II finds himself in the difficult position of supporting fighters today who will one day return home – well-trained, well-armed, and with a taste for rebellion.