TEL AVIV — There is fear that further advances by the Syrian army, assisted by the Iran-backed Hezbollah and elite Iranian troops, may turn the Israel-Jordan-Syria border area into an Iranian proxy base, an Arab intelligence officer said.
“It’s not so much the possibility that it happens, but the prospects of an Israeli retaliation if Iranian forces come near its border,” he said. “Israel made it clear, publicly and behind the scenes, that it would not tolerate Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guards’ presence along its border.”
“Iran has exploited the campaign against Nusra Front and the Islamic State to take root in the border area,” he said. “Jordan and Israel too would like to see these organizations out, but not to the point that Hezbollah and Iran fill the void.”
Lately, Israel and Jordan have cooperated closely on the matter, he stated. “Israel knows that Jordan needs to act against extremist elements but both want to prevent Iran from taking advantage of it.”
“It is also in [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s best interest to keep the Iranians out,” the official contended. “True, he has stated that the Golan Heights would be liberated by force, and he relies heavily on Hezbollah and Iran. But at some point he’d wish to rule over his own border areas, which is something Jordan can live with. But not Iran.”
He added that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards tried several times in the past to gain a foothold in Jordan. “But these cells were unveiled and dismantled before they became operational.”
He added that the joint operation room of the Syrian opposition groups has become almost completely inactive.
“Its activity has been dramatically reduced,” he said of the operation room. “There are no more operational and tactical plans and directives. The world wants first and foremost to remove the jihadist threat, but the elements in the region believe that the jihadi threat will be replaced by an Iranian one.”
He said that Jordan has rebuffed Iranian proposals to increase economic cooperation despite the financial dire straits in which the Kingdom finds itself. “They want to prevent Iran from having any kind of foothold in the kingdom.”