Congressional Products | February 23rd, 2023
Jordanian Foreign Minister Visits Syria:
- On February 15, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi visited Damascus to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, marking the first time Jordan has conducted a state visit since the 2011 onset of the Syrian Civil War.
- According to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, Safadi’s visit focused on Syria’s humanitarian relief needs resulting from the recent earthquake, which has killed nearly 6,000 people in Syria.
- After visiting Syria, Safadi embarked on a similar visit to Turkey.
- This visit accompanies ongoing aid efforts from Jordan, including sending a medical hospital to Turkey and transporting several aid convoys through the northern Bab al-Hawa border crossing in Syria.
The State of Assad's Isolation:
- According to Retired Jordanian Air Force General Mamoun Abu Nuwar, this visit represented a political step toward ending the isolation of the Assad regime: “Qatar and Kuwait are still holding back but most of the Arab world is in support of improving relations with Syria.”
- However, former Jordanian MP Tarek Khoury says that despite this visit, “nothing will change without an international decision.”
- Additionally, Oman and Saudi Arabia have expressed willingness to work with the Assad regime in wake of the earthquake.
- At the Munich Security Conference on February 19, Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal bin Farhan advocated for dialogue with the Syrian government in order to address the Syrian refugee crisis and alleviate civilian suffering.
- On February 20, Oman’s Sultan Haitham met with President Assad in Muscat to express condolences for earthquake victims and discuss Oman’s ongoing aid flights to Syria.
- The United Arab Emirates has spearheaded regional efforts to thaw relations with Damascus.
- The UAE Embassy in Damascus reopened in 2018, and Assad visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai last year in his first visit to an Arab state since the civil war began.
- Additionally, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed accompanied King Abdullah on the visit, marking his third trip to Syria in recent years.
- Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 after the Assad regime brutally repressed pro-democracy protests, leading to civil war.
- Syria’s economy has been hit by a myriad of Western sanctions, causing most Middle Eastern countries to withdraw economically in order to comply.
- In 2019, most Jordanian businesses cut ties with Syria due to the 2019 Caesar Act, the strictest batch of U.S. sanctions against Syria to date.
- In recent years, Jordan-Syria relations have suffered further due to a multi-billion-dollar drug smuggling operation that has passed through Jordan via its border with Syria.
- Jordan has blamed the operation’s success on Iranian-backed militias present in southern Syria.
- In 2021, King Abdullah II called President Assad to discuss bilateral cooperation, but this yielded no significant results.
- Around 672,000 Syrian nationals are registered as refugees in Jordan, but true numbers are estimated at around 1.3 million.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Visits Syria