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Tensions in the Middle East: Jordan’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament Comments
December 18, 2013

The Scroll interviewed Deputy Speaker of Parliament Tarek Sami Khoury, of the House of Representatives of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Khoury is the father of Yara Khoury, a Deerfield exchange student in 2012-2013.

Scroll: What is the modern Jordanian-Syrian relationship?

TSK: On a regime level, Syrian-Jordanian relations have been clouded by many political tensions. Unlike his father, President Bashar al Assad has tried to maintain a much more balanced diplomatic stance with his neighbors. However, tension with Jordan was still always on the rise.

In spite of their governmental policies, Syrians and the Jordanians have always shared common grounds and culture.

Recent events have not changed this solid relation between the two nations. If anything, [they] solidified it more. The general consensus rejecting a military action in Syria is an excellent example of this solidarity with Syrians.

Scroll: Do you think there should be international/ military intervention in Syria?

TSK: I am definitely against any military intervention in Syria, and I am confident that my perception reflects the majority of my country’s population. A military intervention will definitely cause a catastrophe; needless to say, it will have its major negative repercussions on Jordan. The international community should not only avoid a second scenario of Iraq, but also prevent another country in the Middle East from falling.

Scroll: How is the United States perceived internationally?

TSK: In spite of the increasing anti- Americanism in the Middle East, there is still an aspiration within the larger proportions of the population that looks at the U.S. as the land of opportunities. Moreover, there is a clear distinction within the elite and the opinion leaders between the American foreign policy vs. the American people. Moreover, an American intervention, even if welcomed and encouraged by many of the Gulf (Oil) states, is widely unwanted in the Levant area. The Middle East simply cannot afford any more military interventions. Any action will be seen as an act of aggression.

The U.S, in fact, will always be judged by its legacy: no one will ever forget Iraq and no one can forgive the American blind support to Israel.

Scroll: Could you elaborate on the fleeing of Syrians to Jordan?

TSK: Over the past two years, the influx of Syrians in Jordan has increased. The number of registered refugees [is] 552,061 whilst the number of Syrians who crossed the country is estimated to reach a million. Today Syrian refugees consist of almost 10% of the Jordanian population, affecting the economic and social fabric of the host communities in governorates. The Jordanian government has so far maintained an open border policy; however, the Jordanian public has been generating some hostile feelings towards the incoming refugees. but also increased unemployment for Jordanians.

Scroll: What solutions can you foresee?

TSK: The refugee issue is a humanitarian case; one cannot close borders nor deny them entry. However, the Jordanian entities of competence should also regularize the refugees’ status in the country. Whether through the Ministry of Labour, Water or Interior, one should visualize a strategy to counter the economic and social impact the large number of refugees may have on a resource-barren country like Jordan.