Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
General Martin Dempsey is at it again. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is traveling in the Middle East, seemingly making it clear that he doesn’t want any part of the war in Syria. As I reported a while back, in a letter to members of Congress Dempsey had earlier warned that all of the options open to the United States in the Syrian civil war are bad ones. At that time, Dempsey drew fire from hawks and from advocates who want more and stronger direct US involvement in the Syrian war.
Now, it appears that both Dempsey and the Obama administration are concerned about the Syrian war spreading into Jordan. In the past, the United States has used Jordan as a launching pad for CIA-trained rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. But the rebellion in Syria is boomeranging, or “blowing back,” as these things usually do.
Following reports that Syrian rebels, especially the radical Islamists, are trying to spread the conflict into Jordan—particularly ironic, since Jordan is funneling weapons to the anti-Assad fighters—The New York Times reports that Dempsey is concerned over the threat to Jordan:
Syria has accused Jordan of acting as a transit point for weapons supplied to Syrian rebels, an accusation Jordan has denied. In recent days, the Jordanian authorities have detained suspected smugglers, including Syrians, accused of attempting to bring antitank missiles, surface-to-air missiles, assault rifles and other arms from Syria into Jordan—possibly part of an attempt by jihadists in Syria to foment unrest in Jordan as well.
Dempsey, whose earlier letter was released by Senator Carl Levin’s office, was outspoken during his trip to Israel and Jordan. Said Dempsey:
“I am very concerned about the radical element of the opposition, and I am concerned about the potential that extremist ideologies will hijack what started out to be a popular movement to overthrow an oppressive regime.…
“The issues that are fueling the conflict in Syria will not be resolved in the short term, even if the Assad regime were to fail tomorrow,” he said. “This is a regional conflict that stretches from Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad.”[…] “It is the unleashing of historic ethnic, religious and tribal animosities that will take a great deal of work and a great deal of time to resolve.”