Jordan Isn’t Rushing to Embrace Syria

In the past few years, several Sunni Arab states have taken steps toward restoring relations with Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which, having waged brutal and still ongoing war on its own subjects, became a pariah nation. Such signals of normalization also suggest a wavering in their willingness to stand up to Assad’s Iranian patrons. Jesse Marks and Caroline Rose examine the specific case of Jordan, which shares a border with Syria, and has seen the latter’s civil war pose threats to its stability—including an influx of refugees, attempts by Islamic State to expand into its territory, and the disruptive effects of the drug trade on which Assad now relies:

Over the past year, Jordan has received criticism for an apparent warming of relations with Syria. A notable border crossing opening in 2021 and dialogues between both heads of state and ministers of defense and foreign affairs reinforced speculation that the two are escalating efforts to normalize bilateral ties, prompting concerns from the United States as it works to isolate the government of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. But while the two governments are interested in cooperating on trade and border security, an uptick in clashes related to the trade in the drug captagon and Iran-aligned influence in southern Syria has ensured that Jordan is still a long way from normalization with Syria.

As the captagon trade booms and rising insecurity in southern Syria continues, the U.S.-Jordanian relationship—specifically security cooperation along the Jordanian-Syrian border—will, too, change. [Meanwhile], the U.S. should work to identify a strategy with Jordan to serve as a proactive, supportive partner in promoting border and regional security.

[The] Jordanian government continues to expose links between the Syrian military, its Iranian-aligned partners such as Hizballah and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps militias, and the captagon trade. Those potential links, and more specifically the smuggling of captagon through Jordan, reinforce Jordan’s view of the Syrian military as an unreliable partner.

Read more at Newlines Institute

More about: Jordan, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security