‘Hostage crisis – Jordan’s blowback from Syrian conflict’

Sharmine Narwani
Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony's College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Sharmine has written commentary for a wide array of publications, including Al Akhbar English, the New York Times, the Guardian, Asia Times Online, Salon.com, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, BRICS Post and others. You can follow her on Twitter at @snarwani
‘Hostage crisis – Jordan’s blowback from Syrian conflict’
Amman has allowed Saudi Arabia and the West to use Jordan as a training ground for military activities related to Syria, so it is natural that it is currently facing blowback, political analyst Sharmine Narwani told RT.

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RT:Jordan says it is ready to release an Islamic State-linked Iraqi terrorist in exchange for a pilot captured by the group in December. Do you think that could be a deal?

Sharmine Narwani: Yes, of course it could be a deal. Provided proof of life has been established…There is huge pressure on the government to get the pilot back, from the families and tribes in the South of Jordan, and throughout the country. This is Jordan’s first experience with blowback directly from the Syrian conflict. It’s an important event and I do think the Jordanian government will deal as is evidenced by the offer today.

People walk past a TV screen broadcasting a news program about Islamic State hostages Jordanian air force pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh (back top 3rd L) and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto (back top 2nd L), along a street in Tokyo January 29, 2015.(Reuters / Yuya Shino)

RT:Jordan now is in the position of negotiating with terrorists and of course they want to save a human life. But are they just giving legitimacy to the extremists and opening up the door to more kidnapping?

SN: Sometimes you do negotiate, sometimes you don’t. Everyone will trade at some level of pain, including countries that say they absolutely will not. This is too high profile a case for Jordan to just ignore because of the potential domestic political consequences. It won’t necessarily open the door to more kidnappings depending on Jordan’s behavior after a deal is struck, meaning Jordan could exit from the Syrian crisis all together. And that doesn’t just mean closing down the border both ways, or dropping out the coalition, but also kicking out foreign, Western mostly, troops that are currently still training Syrian fighters, many of whom become extremists once they are in the Syrian military arena.

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RT:There is speculation that Jordan is indirectly contributing to the rise of the Islamic extremists in Syria by supporting the rebels. Do you agree with that?

SN: Jordan has absolutely contributed to the rise of groups like ISIS and al-Nusra, which is al-Qaeda in Syria. The earliest gunmen who were traversing the border into Syria were from Jordan [before] everything kicked off in March 2011. And Jordan has done this by deliberately allowing a porous border at least one way which includes the movement of Jordanian citizens into the Syrian military arena - most of these extremists and Islamists have trained and armed these Syrian fighters on their own border. And they have allowed Saudis, Americans, British, and French to use Jordan almost as a training ground for activities related to Syria. This continues to this day. It’s natural that Jordan would experience some blowback from it. But they have been absolutely complicit in helping to create the extreme groups who were responsible for the kidnapping of their pilot, sadly.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.