World
Dmitry Minin
October 12, 2013
© Photo: Public domain

According to reports from Israeli intelligence sources, the night of October 6-7 the Syrian government army began a new offensive, this time in the south. Two tank brigades (around 200 tanks and armored vehicles) moved toward Quneitra. The Israelis believe that the immediate goal of this large-scale operation is to liberate territories adjacent to the occupied Golan Heights from the rebels. As a result, all contact between the illegal militant groups and the Israeli army will be cut off and they will be unable to receive military assistance from Israel… Next it is assumed that this group will advance to the strategic triangle of the Jordanian-Israeli-Syrian border in the Daraa Governorate in order to prevent interventionist and rebel forces from creating a base in this zone for a strike against Damascus. The places where they are based are already being attacked by the Syrian air force. 

Up to this point the Syrian army command has avoided such large-scale operations in this region, fearing that it would provoke an Israeli or Jordanian invasion, but military analysts believe that after the resolution of the "chemical problem" with Russia's assistance it has gained confidence and intends to achieve total victory.

In Jordan, two army divisions stationed along the border with Syria have already been placed on alert. In addition, a Saudi tank division, ready to quick-march through the territory of Jordan in the direction of Syria, has been deployed to the Jordanian border. The information being spread in the media that the Saudis have given the Syrian rebels in Jordan around 100 tanks, which most likely means the presence of at least one Saudi tank brigade directly on the Syrian border, possibly with crews dressed in Syrian uniform, is disquieting. However, these actions are apparently too late.

Amman is an important regional ally of the U.S. and a key link in its Syrian strategy. It was one of the first Arab capitals to urge the resignation of Bashar al-Asad, which can be explained by the complex heritage of relations between Syria and Jordan. The fathers of the current leaders of the two countries, President Hafez al-Asad and King Hussein, were at enmity. The territory of Jordan was used by foreign intelligence agencies, mostly British, for conducting sabotage activities against Syria in the 1960s. Starting in 1982 it became a logistics base for the activities of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. It was with the events of March 2011 in the city of Daraa, which borders on Jordan and through which the second most important contraband channel for supplying the rebel forces with arms runs, that the current armed conflict in Syria began. 

The shift in the center of gravity of armed hostilities to the south of Syria means that the Syrian command, headed by Defense Minister General al-Freij, is once again outmaneuvering its crafty opponents from the Pentagon, who are behind the maneuvers of the militant opposition. In focusing the main direction of their attacks in the northern part of the country near Aleppo and in the center near Homs, the Syrian generals apparently deliberately created the sense among the enemy that they were leaving Damascus poorly defended, which in fact was not true. In the hope that the army would get tied down in the north, the rebels, with the support of the West and the Arab monarchies, including Jordan, were secretly building up forces near the capital and in the Jordanian-Syrian border zone a little over a hundred kilometers away from it. Having seen this, the leadership of the Syrian army suspended active operations in the vicinity of the Turkish border and concentrated on defending Damascus. According to various estimates, by the end of August there were between 17,000 and 25,000 rebels concentrated in the suburbs of the capital in East Ghouta and West Ghouta, ready to storm the center of Damascus, after which their main forces were to penetrate from the direction of Jordan. A preventative attack on this group by the government forces was planned for August 21. The chemical attack made before the offensive was apparently aimed to disrupt this. In recent days, information has appeared that possibly Saudi commandos who penetrated into Syria through the territory of Jordan and are working with fighters from the terrorist group Liwa al-Islam are behind the chemical weapons provocation.

This provocation has indeed slowed down the process of routing the rebel strike force around the Syrian capital, but no more than that. Liberating quarter after quarter of Greater Damascus in stubborn fighting, the Syrian army now feels ready to eliminate the dangerous spearhead advancing from the direction of Jordan. The leadership of Syria understands perfectly that, while Washington has been forced to moderate its bellicose statements regarding Syria, it has not abandoned its plans to topple the regime and is only waiting for the right moment.

In a situation where a large part of the border between Syria and Turkey to the east is under the control of Kurdish forces, and in the west it is under the control of al-Qaeda-oriented jihadists, the implementation of America's plan to seize Damascus using the forces of the pro-West Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been shifted to the south to Jordan. The Arab media has been reporting the "continuing deployment along the entire 370-kilometer border with Syria" of Jordanian and American divisions. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai, for example, writes that a striking force of several thousand soldiers and dozens of tanks is concentrated in the vicinity of the city of Ar-Ramtha, only a few kilometers from the Syrian city of Daraa. The channel Sky News Arabia has reported that Jordanian forces have been "training for an operation in conditions identical to those in Syria" for several months. The aim of the ground operation could be to create a "buffer zone" in Daraa. 

Some Arab sources assert that, despite Washington's official statements about the "limited" nature of the operations being planned against Syria, from the very beginning much more was intended than a Tomahawk strike against Damascus and the military bases surrounding it. They confirm information that there are two tank groups on the border with Syria, one Jordanian and one Saudi. 3,000 Free Syrian Army fighters have also been deployed to the border and have been being trained for the past several months by CIA instructors. The aim of the invasion is to be not only the creation of a "buffer zone", but also the declaration of a temporary government on the "liberated territory" and the creation of a direct threat to Damascus by interacting with Islamist groups. Patriot batteries have been placed along the border with Syria in case of a Syrian counterattack. The possibility of using air bases and radar stations in northern Jordan in the case of a strike against Syria has also been reported. At the same time, the deployment of a large number of military planes and drones to the north of Jordan has also been reported.

Anonymous sources at the Washington Post have reported that in the last several weeks the CIA has sent additional militarized groups to secret bases in Jordan in order to double the number of fighters being trained there by American instructors and receiving weapons from the U.S. Washington is concerned that the "moderate rebels" are quickly losing their positions in the war. According to the newspaper's sources, at present the goal of the CIA operation is determined by the White House's cynical scenario where the conflict reaches a dead end, but there is no winner. The support of the CIA could be enough for the rebels not to lose, but not enough for them to win, writes the Washington Post. Most likely, this means that the 1000 American marines from the 26th Expeditionary Unit, who arrived in Jordan in June 2013 at the port of Aqaba and were then deployed to the Syrian-Jordanian border, will apparently remain there.

Taking advantage of the concentration of government forces in the vicinities of Aleppo and Homs, as well as the beginning of operations for the liberation of the Damascus suburbs, the rebel divisions trained by the Americans had seized border crossings on the Syrian-Jordanian border and expanded its footholds in a number of areas deep into the Daraa Governorate by late September. FSA commanders have admitted that their goal is to seize the strategic Amman-Damascus highway. However, the counterattack launched by the government army will apparently set a limit to the successes of the rebel forces in this region. 

But the West's assurances that it supports the «moderate opposition» in Syria do not stand up to scrutiny; in fact, Western powers are increasingly helping the most hardcore jihadists. For example, according to reports in the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, Islamists from Jabhat al-Nusra played a decisive role in seizing the border crossings on the Syria-Jordanian border. That is, the myth that the pro-West opposition is not collaborating with al-Qaeda and can accomplish something independently has turned out to be untenable here as well. The Jordanian Salafi leader Mohammed Shalabi, also known as Abu Sayaf, who is actively participating in the war on the side of the Syrian rebels, openly admits that as soon as the Syrian president is removed from office, he and his confederates will demand that the pro-Western FSA lay down its arms and they will start building an Islamic state. Incidentally, in the past Abu Sayaf was involved in organizing a terrorist attack against American troops in Jordan. And it seems that he has not changed his beliefs since then.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
The Jordanian Front of the Syrian War

According to reports from Israeli intelligence sources, the night of October 6-7 the Syrian government army began a new offensive, this time in the south. Two tank brigades (around 200 tanks and armored vehicles) moved toward Quneitra. The Israelis believe that the immediate goal of this large-scale operation is to liberate territories adjacent to the occupied Golan Heights from the rebels. As a result, all contact between the illegal militant groups and the Israeli army will be cut off and they will be unable to receive military assistance from Israel… Next it is assumed that this group will advance to the strategic triangle of the Jordanian-Israeli-Syrian border in the Daraa Governorate in order to prevent interventionist and rebel forces from creating a base in this zone for a strike against Damascus. The places where they are based are already being attacked by the Syrian air force. 

Up to this point the Syrian army command has avoided such large-scale operations in this region, fearing that it would provoke an Israeli or Jordanian invasion, but military analysts believe that after the resolution of the "chemical problem" with Russia's assistance it has gained confidence and intends to achieve total victory.

In Jordan, two army divisions stationed along the border with Syria have already been placed on alert. In addition, a Saudi tank division, ready to quick-march through the territory of Jordan in the direction of Syria, has been deployed to the Jordanian border. The information being spread in the media that the Saudis have given the Syrian rebels in Jordan around 100 tanks, which most likely means the presence of at least one Saudi tank brigade directly on the Syrian border, possibly with crews dressed in Syrian uniform, is disquieting. However, these actions are apparently too late.

Amman is an important regional ally of the U.S. and a key link in its Syrian strategy. It was one of the first Arab capitals to urge the resignation of Bashar al-Asad, which can be explained by the complex heritage of relations between Syria and Jordan. The fathers of the current leaders of the two countries, President Hafez al-Asad and King Hussein, were at enmity. The territory of Jordan was used by foreign intelligence agencies, mostly British, for conducting sabotage activities against Syria in the 1960s. Starting in 1982 it became a logistics base for the activities of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. It was with the events of March 2011 in the city of Daraa, which borders on Jordan and through which the second most important contraband channel for supplying the rebel forces with arms runs, that the current armed conflict in Syria began. 

The shift in the center of gravity of armed hostilities to the south of Syria means that the Syrian command, headed by Defense Minister General al-Freij, is once again outmaneuvering its crafty opponents from the Pentagon, who are behind the maneuvers of the militant opposition. In focusing the main direction of their attacks in the northern part of the country near Aleppo and in the center near Homs, the Syrian generals apparently deliberately created the sense among the enemy that they were leaving Damascus poorly defended, which in fact was not true. In the hope that the army would get tied down in the north, the rebels, with the support of the West and the Arab monarchies, including Jordan, were secretly building up forces near the capital and in the Jordanian-Syrian border zone a little over a hundred kilometers away from it. Having seen this, the leadership of the Syrian army suspended active operations in the vicinity of the Turkish border and concentrated on defending Damascus. According to various estimates, by the end of August there were between 17,000 and 25,000 rebels concentrated in the suburbs of the capital in East Ghouta and West Ghouta, ready to storm the center of Damascus, after which their main forces were to penetrate from the direction of Jordan. A preventative attack on this group by the government forces was planned for August 21. The chemical attack made before the offensive was apparently aimed to disrupt this. In recent days, information has appeared that possibly Saudi commandos who penetrated into Syria through the territory of Jordan and are working with fighters from the terrorist group Liwa al-Islam are behind the chemical weapons provocation.

This provocation has indeed slowed down the process of routing the rebel strike force around the Syrian capital, but no more than that. Liberating quarter after quarter of Greater Damascus in stubborn fighting, the Syrian army now feels ready to eliminate the dangerous spearhead advancing from the direction of Jordan. The leadership of Syria understands perfectly that, while Washington has been forced to moderate its bellicose statements regarding Syria, it has not abandoned its plans to topple the regime and is only waiting for the right moment.

In a situation where a large part of the border between Syria and Turkey to the east is under the control of Kurdish forces, and in the west it is under the control of al-Qaeda-oriented jihadists, the implementation of America's plan to seize Damascus using the forces of the pro-West Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been shifted to the south to Jordan. The Arab media has been reporting the "continuing deployment along the entire 370-kilometer border with Syria" of Jordanian and American divisions. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai, for example, writes that a striking force of several thousand soldiers and dozens of tanks is concentrated in the vicinity of the city of Ar-Ramtha, only a few kilometers from the Syrian city of Daraa. The channel Sky News Arabia has reported that Jordanian forces have been "training for an operation in conditions identical to those in Syria" for several months. The aim of the ground operation could be to create a "buffer zone" in Daraa. 

Some Arab sources assert that, despite Washington's official statements about the "limited" nature of the operations being planned against Syria, from the very beginning much more was intended than a Tomahawk strike against Damascus and the military bases surrounding it. They confirm information that there are two tank groups on the border with Syria, one Jordanian and one Saudi. 3,000 Free Syrian Army fighters have also been deployed to the border and have been being trained for the past several months by CIA instructors. The aim of the invasion is to be not only the creation of a "buffer zone", but also the declaration of a temporary government on the "liberated territory" and the creation of a direct threat to Damascus by interacting with Islamist groups. Patriot batteries have been placed along the border with Syria in case of a Syrian counterattack. The possibility of using air bases and radar stations in northern Jordan in the case of a strike against Syria has also been reported. At the same time, the deployment of a large number of military planes and drones to the north of Jordan has also been reported.

Anonymous sources at the Washington Post have reported that in the last several weeks the CIA has sent additional militarized groups to secret bases in Jordan in order to double the number of fighters being trained there by American instructors and receiving weapons from the U.S. Washington is concerned that the "moderate rebels" are quickly losing their positions in the war. According to the newspaper's sources, at present the goal of the CIA operation is determined by the White House's cynical scenario where the conflict reaches a dead end, but there is no winner. The support of the CIA could be enough for the rebels not to lose, but not enough for them to win, writes the Washington Post. Most likely, this means that the 1000 American marines from the 26th Expeditionary Unit, who arrived in Jordan in June 2013 at the port of Aqaba and were then deployed to the Syrian-Jordanian border, will apparently remain there.

Taking advantage of the concentration of government forces in the vicinities of Aleppo and Homs, as well as the beginning of operations for the liberation of the Damascus suburbs, the rebel divisions trained by the Americans had seized border crossings on the Syrian-Jordanian border and expanded its footholds in a number of areas deep into the Daraa Governorate by late September. FSA commanders have admitted that their goal is to seize the strategic Amman-Damascus highway. However, the counterattack launched by the government army will apparently set a limit to the successes of the rebel forces in this region. 

But the West's assurances that it supports the «moderate opposition» in Syria do not stand up to scrutiny; in fact, Western powers are increasingly helping the most hardcore jihadists. For example, according to reports in the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, Islamists from Jabhat al-Nusra played a decisive role in seizing the border crossings on the Syria-Jordanian border. That is, the myth that the pro-West opposition is not collaborating with al-Qaeda and can accomplish something independently has turned out to be untenable here as well. The Jordanian Salafi leader Mohammed Shalabi, also known as Abu Sayaf, who is actively participating in the war on the side of the Syrian rebels, openly admits that as soon as the Syrian president is removed from office, he and his confederates will demand that the pro-Western FSA lay down its arms and they will start building an Islamic state. Incidentally, in the past Abu Sayaf was involved in organizing a terrorist attack against American troops in Jordan. And it seems that he has not changed his beliefs since then.