Since the de-escalation agreement between Jordan, the US and Russia in July 2017 – covering southwestern Syria – pressure has been building with fighting between rebel forces (who hold the Nasib border-crossing) and government forces, including units from Hezbollah.
It’s the recent uptick in fighting in Eastern Ghouta that have raised fears that the whole agreement is about to collapse. Government advances in the southwest is closing in on the de-escalation zone bordering Jordan and it’s especially in Amman that alarm-bells have gone off.
Jordan already hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees and is afraid that renewed fighting, and a collapse of the de-escalation agreement, will mean a new influx of refugees, something Jordan can ill afford.
Several cease-fire attempts have failed to stop the fighting in Eastern Ghouta and it’s increasingly clear that whatever agreements are reached at the UNSC, various actors in the Syrian war simply ignore those.
The de-escalation agreement included a mechanism – the Amman Center for Cease-fire Control in southern Syria – to deal with problems concerning the agreement, and that is being activated as the security situation in the south continues to deteriorate.
Both Jordan and Israel (who was not party to the agreement) fear a Syrian government retake of the area today held by rebel-groups, because this will mean a military presence of Iranian and/or Hezbollah units close to both borders. Israel, who has extended medical aid to Syrians in the Golan Heights for years, has clearly stated that this is unacceptable and will take whatever measures deemed necessary to stop an Iranian military presence close to its borders.
If the fighting does extend from Eastern Ghouta towards the south and southwest, the risk of a complete collapse of the de-escalation agreement is thus very real.