Jordan is not going to take over or monitor the US military base in the eastern Syrian al-Tanf area, located on the country’s border with Jordan, after Washington withdraws troops from Syria since the facility is situated outside Jordan, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told Sputnik in an interview.
“No, al-Tanf area is inside Syria,” Safadi said when asked if it was possible that the base would be handed over to Jordan after the US troop withdrawal.
The foreign minister of Jordan stressed that Amman hoped that the three countries would instead hold trilateral talks to take necessary measures to ensure security in the area.
“Jordan will protect its borders but will not cross into Syrian territory. What we are hoping for is again to have a trilateral discussion that will agree on arrangements that will ensure security on the other side of the border,” the foreign minister added.
When asked whether Jordan might be invited to monitor the military base after the US troops leave, Safadi said “no” as well.
“Al-Tanf is on the other side of the Jordanian border. As I said, Jordan will not cross its border. We will take every measure we have to protect our security. We will eliminate any threat to our security. But arrangements on the other side of the border after withdrawal will have to be agreed by all parties, and they have to ensure the safety and security in the area,” the Jordanian foreign minister said.
Rukban Refugee Camp
Jordan hopes that the UN humanitarian convoy will reach Rukban refugee camp, located on the Syrian-Jordan border, soon and continues talks with Moscow and Washington on ways to permanently dismantle the camp, Safadi stressed.
“The discussions over allowing the second humanitarian convoy to Rukban from inside Syria have been going on for some time. We are hopeful that an agreement will be reached soon so that the needs of the residents of the camp are met. We understand there has been some progress and we hope the convoy will be arranged soon,” Safadi said.
The foreign minister stressed, however, that despite the importance of the delivery of humanitarian aid to the camp it the establishment of the facility was just a temporary measure and it should be permanently dismantled.
“That said, however, I think the focus should not be just on providing humanitarian supplies that will only offer a temporary solution. The answer to this problem is and should be the de-establishment of the camp through agreements that would allow for the residents of Rukban to go back to their villages, cities and towns,” the minister said.
Safadi said that Jordan was pursuing negotiations both with Russia and the United States — as the camp is situated within the US-controlled zone surrounding its military base in the al-Tanf area — on the details of the potential dismantlement of the facility.
“We are in discussions with the Russians and the Americans on the modalities of achieving that as soon as possible. … Similar conversations have taken place in the past through the Amman monitoring center. So we are working to have the meetings happen there … What we are working on now is to make sure that those meetings continue with a view to ensuring a quick agreement on steps to have these IDPs [internally displaced people] go back to their homes,” Safadi said.
The foreign minister noted that the camp also posed a threat to Jordan’s security, pointing out to several attacks that had been carried out just outside the camp and resulted in the death of several Jordanian security personnel over past years.
“Rukban is a national security threat to Jordan. Terrorist operations that were planned in, and executed out of Rukban, killed Jordanian soldiers in the past,” Safadi concluded.
In November 2018, the camp received its first package of aid since January, after a UN humanitarian convoy traveled from Damascus to Rukban camp under the escort of the Russian military. Since December, the United Nations has been considering sending another humanitarian convoy to the facility, but only if the US staff is guaranteed safe passage.