Jordan Frets Rise of Syria’s Islamist Rebels Across Border

Efforts to Back 'Secular' Rebels Not Paying Off

Jordan’s eagerness to jump on the rebel bandwagon in Syria came with an explanation that they were really concerned about the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels and figured the logical thing to do was openly back the more secular rebel factions in the hope they would somehow even out. Needless to say, that’s not working out so well.

Now, Jordan is finding itself with a whole bunch of rebel-controlled territory right on its border with Syria, which is according to plan. What’s not according to plan is that the territory is dominated by the very Islamists they were supposed to be countering, and having been publicly disavowed by Jordan, they’re not just an inconvenience but an overt long-term threat.

It was always pretty apparent that an Islamist win in Syria would be disastrous for Jordan, in that they have a pretty sizable number of Islamists in Jordan who would love to piggyback on the Syrian rebellion to oust the Hashemite king in favor of a more clergy-based society. Hosting US trainers and spearheading the rebel arms program was aimed at giving them some say over who the powerbrokers in the rebellion are.

In the end though, the rebellion is so nebulous that arms are readily passed back and forth, and backing the “secular rebels” is still backing the rebels. Direct aid may focus on only some of them, but apart from some incidents of intra-rebel fighting the rebels are mostly allies, so there’s no reason to have expected anything else.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of