Spillover Threatens Stability

As the UN’s joint Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) works to remove Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles amidst repeated attempts to broker peace between the Assad regime and various Opposition factions, the second and third-order effects of the Syrian war are severely impacting the rest of the Levant.

Jordan in particular is struggling to maintain its internal stability amidst a severe influx of Syrian refugees, and is working hard to ensure the conflict is not exacerbated by any potential conflict that could arise in Jordan, thereby threatening the stability of other countries in the Levant even further. As SOFREP has previously reported, the Syrian conflict has continuously threatened US and western interests due primarily to the presence of various violent extremist organizations and Islamist militants operating in the region.

Straight From the Source

Based on information from a SOFREP contact with direct access to the ground situation and atmospherics in Jordan, recent developments suggest the situation in Jordan is on the decline.  According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are over 600,000 refugees from Syria alone residing in Jordan.  This massive influx has severely degraded Jordanian internal stability, despite many combined humanitarian assistance forces and Jordanian government attempts to the contrary.

Factors Threatening Internal Stability

There are a number of factors affecting the internal stability of Jordan.  Chief among them is the ability of the Jordanian government to shape the perceptions of its people in regards to the bloody conflict that has been waged at its doorstep for the past three-plus years.  The more confident the Jordanian populace remains of its stability and security relative to its Syrian neighbors to the north, the more successful the Jordanian government will be in maintaining control over the situation.

Zaatari Refugee Camp, northern Jordan, courtesy of AFP/Getty Images

Media Regulation

In order to maintain a semblance of control over the spillover emanating from Syria, the Jordanian government has engaged in an extensive information operations campaign to offset any reporting that suggests the situation along their northern border is beyond their control.  In short, the Jordanian government is directly influencing what their media outlets are able to report, broadcasting that citizens have nothing to worry about.

According to our source, the Jordanian government has taken much liberty regarding the various issues threatening their stability.  “The [Jordanian government] is saying that any news/media there is lying about the amount of Syrian refugees that are currently flooding into the country.  They’re telling the citizens not to worry…and that there is enough of [everything] to go around, particularly water.”

While the majority of Jordanians recognize they are being lied to by the government, they understand what their government is attempting to do for them and often accept it.  It’s easier for the “older generations to accept that it’s for the best.  But the [younger generations] want to know why they’re being lied to.  They want the truth.”

Refugees and Security

The single most critical concern regarding Jordan’s internal stability is the presence of refugees and the Jordanian government’s approach to the refugee situation in Jordan.  While the UNHCR reports over 600,000 refugees are currently residing in Jordan, the Jordanian government has attempted to mitigate the fears of its people by reporting that only a “couple thousand refugees fled to Jordan”, and not the actual hundreds of thousands.