A Jordanian Member of Parliament harshly criticised the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad and prayed for its downfall, as the Kingdom attempts to improve and restore full ties with the regime.
During an oversight session of Jordan's House of Representatives yesterday, MP Ali Al-Khalayleh confronted the government about the Syrian regime's violations of Jordan's water rights, stating that "this regime does not comply with our government's water rights, and it has built 23 new dams on the Yarmouk River, draining the water basin on the border, and digging wells close to the border."
He called on Amman to "move to collect our water rights before the international, Arab and Islamic community", and also made the supplication that "I pray to God to remove this regime that oppresses our children in Syria."
Al-Khalayleh's comments on the violation of water rights were confirmed by Jordan's Minister of Water and Irrigation, Muhammad Al-Najjar, who acknowledged that the Syrian regime had exceeded their share of the water – flowing from the Yarmouk river – and violated the 1987 water agreement which stipulates that Jordan will build a dam with a capacity of 220 million cubic meters while Syria would build around 25 dams for irrigation, on the condition that it will benefit from the electric power generated by the Al-Wehda dam.
Despite that acknowledgement, however, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Administration, Tawfiq Krishan, demanded that the Al-Khalayleh's phrase "the call for the Syrian regime to leave" be removed. A vote was then held, and it was decided that the phrase be crossed out from the session's meeting record.
Prior to that vote, Al-Khalayleh defended his comments by saying that the Assad regime "tried to assassinate King Hussein, and assassinated the Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri. It is a criminal regime, and these are the facts."
This is not the first time the MP has gotten into trouble over his criticism of Assad. In 2011, at the start of the Syrian revolution, he received death threats after calling the Syrian regime "corrupt and bloody" in a speech.
The MP's criticism and the removal of his comments comes amid the rapidly warming ties between Amman and Damascus, following years of Jordan's condemnation of Syrian security forces' brutal crackdown on peaceful protests, which caused the Kingdom to cut ties with the regime.
Ever since Syrian forces – with the help of their allies Russia and Iran – recaptured most of the country over the past few years, however, Arab states in the region, such as Egypt and Jordan, have restored their ties with Assad.
Last year, Jordan fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria and the restarting of direct flights to Damascus were announced. Amman has also joined efforts to support Damascus's return to the Arab League, and Jordanian King Abdullah held his first phone call with Assad in October after a decade.