The delivery of a battery of Patriot missiles and F-16 Falcon fighter planes to Jordan by the US (STRATFOR: 03/06/13) as a countermeasure against a potential spill over from the Syrian civil war into Jordanian territory, is unnecessarily provocative. Firstly, should such a spill over occur, it would occur through the uncontrolled movement of guerrilla fighters from Syria into Jordan, something that neither Patriots nor F-16s could deter or physically counter. If viewed in terms of pure symbolism, while King Abdullah of Jordan is a very close ally of the United States, the idea of beefing up Jordan’s air defences says more about potentially preparing Jordanian territory as a staging base for a no-fly zone/s over Syria, than it does about anything else. The Syrian Air Force is currently preoccupied with carrying out strikes against rebel forces geographically located within Syria proper. It has neither the will nor the technical capability of challenging regional air forces, as its impotence against recent Israeli airstrikes on Syrian targets clearly demonstrated (early May 2013). Israel, Jordan and Turkey share US military technology so it makes sense that this regional triumvirate, along with US assistance, may very well form the base of an internationally sanctioned no fly zone arrangement over Syria to finally close down Syrian Air Force operations against rebel forces. The recent controversy over the delivery of Russian weapons to the besieged government forces of Bashar Al-Assad adds to the perception that bolstering Jordan is in preparation for something more dramatic since the actual threat posed to Jordan by the Syrian Air Force, even under these dire circumstances, is miniscule. More worrying, however, is recent talk from a former Israeli intelligence chief who suggests that a massive Israeli aerial campaign on Syrian forces could topple the Assad regime. While possibly true, the problem is that such a strike may also incapacitate much of Syria’s remaining governing assets, thereby undermining Damascus’ capacity for central authority and leading to the possible fragmentation of Syria proper. Then, there’s the thorny question of whether the Syrian Rebels would feel gratitude for this sort of unilateral Israeli assistance, or simply take whatever opportunity avails them before turning their guns on the Jewish state.
By Dr. John Bruni, Director SAGE International