Jordan is stepping up its efforts to reengage with Syria after King Abdullah backed rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the 11-year Syrian Civil War.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said his country has informed the Biden administration, which opposes normalization with Assad, about these steps.
“Jordan is talking to President al-Assad after not seeing any effective strategy to resolve the Syrian war,” Safadi said in an interview with CNN. “Coexistence with the status quo is not an option; a political solution is still required in Syria, in accordance with international law.”
“What have we done as a global community to resolve the crisis? Eleven years in this crisis, and what was the result?” he said.
Safadi noted that Jordan has absorbed more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees who are unsupported by the international community.
“We, as the host country, have to shoulder the burden – with less and less money,” he added.
In addition, the civil war has led to an influx of terrorism and an increase in drug trafficking, posing a credible threat to the Kingdom’s security.
“Jordan has held talks with the United States on rapprochement efforts,” Safadi said. “As a neighboring country, our mission is to address our concerns. We have suffered more severely from this crisis than anyone else.”
In an interview this weekend with France 24, he added that Jordan – and the world – wants “a political solution that ends this suffering, preserves Syria’s unity and cohesion, and restores its security, stability and role.”
Washington opposes normalizing relations with Syria. But this turnaround in strategy began after Abdullah’s visit to the White House in July. During an interview with CNN at the time, the king called on the U.S. and the Europeans to engage Assad rather than force a regime change.
Washington criticized Jordan’s efforts to normalize ties with Assad.
“We are concerned by reports of this meeting and the signal it sends,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters regarding Jordan, reiterating comments he made about the United Arab Emirates.
Last week, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed met with Assad marking the first official meeting between the two nations since the UAE severed diplomatic relations with Syria in 2012.