Syrian foreign ministry announced yesterday that the Jordanian charge d’affaires to Syria is “persona non grata”, in response to Amman’s decision to expel the Syrian ambassador to Jordan.
The decision was made a short time after Amman ordered the Syrian envoy Bahjat Suleiman to leave the country within 24 hours after his “repeated insults” of the kingdom.
In a statement that was published by the official news agency SANA, the foreign ministry said: “In response to the Jordanian government’s baseless decision to declare the Syrian ambassador to Amman persona non grata, the government of the Syrian Arab Republic has decided to declare the Jordanian charge d’affaires to Syria persona non grata.”
The statement added: “We have asked the Jordanian embassy in Damascus to inform the charge d’affaires that he has been banned from entering the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.”
On June 6, 2013, Jordan issued an “ultimatum” to the ambassador of Damascus, threatened that he could be declared “persona non grata”, following his statements where he criticised the kingdom’s hosting of the Friends of Syria meeting, held in May 2013, and its request to deploy a Patriot missiles.
The Jordanian foreign minister said: “Suleiman’s insults exceeded diplomatic norms, practices and accords.”
The Syrian ambassador in Jordan Bahjat Suleiman is known for the critical remarks he makes across social networking websites especially Facebook.
Commenting on Jordan’s request to deploy Patriot missiles to protect its borders, the Syrian ambassador said on his Facebook page: “Jordan is an ignorant country, and Syria must inform it that it has Iskander missiles, which are able to combat Patriot missiles in a very, very successful way.”
The relations between Jordan and Syria have strained since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in mid-March 2011. Jordan’s ambassador in Damascus Omar Al-Amad was recalled to Amman for consultations following the attack that was carried out by about 120 Syrian demonstrators against the embassy building, where the Jordanian flag was pulled down on November 14.
The attack came after Jordan’s King Abdullah II called on the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to step down, in line with the demand of the Syrian opposition and the countries supporting it.
In a media interview in April 2013, Al-Assad warned of the “Syrian fire’s extension to Jordan, which the regime has accused of facilitating the infiltration of fighters across the border between the two countries.”
Jordan hosts more than 600,000 registered Syrian refugees.