Official sources in Jordan have expressed the government's fear of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover in neighbouring Syria. "The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is concerned about the rise of Brotherhood groups in the Arab world, and it fears that Syria may come under an Islamist government," they told Al-Hayat newspaper on condition of anonymity.
"Any political influence for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood will have a direct impact on the Brotherhood in Jordan, and will raise the ceiling of their demands for reform, especially the call to undermine the powers of King Abdullah II."
Jordanian Islamists have been demanding political and economic reforms and constitutional amendments since January 2011. They wish to cut the power of the ruling Royal Family, especially with regards to the appointment and dismissal of the government and members of the upper house in parliament.
Politicians and media representatives have spoken recently about "Jordanian resentment" towards the "Arab regional axis" in which the Muslim brotherhood is prominent. Such concerns are also felt in "some Gulf countries", it is claimed.
Al-Hayat published details of behind the scenes meetings where political activists sat down with King Abdullah, who warned of the formation of a new Arab coalition dominated by "extremism".
Some officials have described a new Jordanian approach to the crisis in Syria, one in which "it is better for the current regime to survive rather than have extremists religious groups in powers". The approach has been revised in the light of Western governments' desire to see the Assad regime fall.
Nevertheless, Jordan will not arm the Syrian opposition or participate in any military action against the current government, although it is ready to provide greater political support for the rebels. Such support is conditional, it is alleged, on three things: The maintenance of the unity of Syria's people and land; ensuring participation from all segments of Syrian society; and the preservation of the Syrian Army. The latter would mean, in effect, no recognition for the Free Syrian Army.
Jordanian government minister Samih Al-Maaytah said yesterday that all the negative outcomes in Syria are possible in the absence of any long-term political solution. "While parties want Jordan to be in this camp or that camp," he said, "our position comes with a price, which we are now paying."
There are two main crossing points between Jordan and Syria along their 360 km border; the first links the Jordanian city of Ramtha with its Syrian counterpat Daraa, while the second is the Jaber crossing, leading to Nasib on the Syrian side.
Daraa is only 11 km away from Ramtha, and most of the Jordanians in the city depend on trading goods from Syria for their living. The value of trade between the two countries before the revolution was estimated at more than one million dinars per day, according to official statistics.