King Abdullah II of Jordan has alleged that his country “regularly faces attacks on [its] borders from Iran-linked militias” and called for “a change of behaviour by Iran”.
In an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai, King Abdullah said the Islamic Republic’s interventions in the region had “impacted a number of Arab countries… Jordan, like the rest of the Arab countries, seeks good relations with Iran, with mutual respect, good neighbourliness, respect for the sovereignty of other states and non-interference in their affairs.”
The remarks came in response to a question about clashes between drugs and arms smugglers based in government-controlled regions of Syria, and Jordanian armed forces.
Some of these groups are known to provide financial support to Hezbollah, a key proxy of Tehran with bases in Syria. They have periodically attacked Jordanian border forces and killed at least one officer and a border guard in January this year. The Jordanian military retaliated by killing some 27 alleged drug traffickers and members of armed groups that same month.
The Hashemite monarch said drugs and arms smuggling posed “a threat to us and to fellow Arab countries”, adding that a change in the regime’s foreign policy posture “must materialise on the ground… in the interests of everyone, including Iran and its people.”
In May this year, King Abdullah also told US think-tank the Hoover Institution that Tehran’s interventionism was a cause of concern for the region. As well supporting the Assad regime and Hezbollah, he said, Tehran backing the Houthis in Yemen had created instability in the country and unease in the Gulf.
He also said he expected these incursions to continue: “With a reduced Russian presence [in Syria], the gap in support for the Assad regime will now be filled by Iran.”
The comments come amid what had been a period of thawing relations between Arab countries and Iran before the “Middle East Air Defense Alliance” left Tehran out in the cold last month.
Weapons smuggling and narco-terrorism operations continue to run from parts of Syria run by the government, which is under heavy international sanctions. The amphetamine Captagon in particular is manufactured in these zones and largely marketed in the Middle East.