Jordan’s king protests attacks by Iran-backed militias on border, hosts PA’s Abbas

Abdullah says he seeks good relations with Tehran but requires mutual respect of sovereignty; monarch, Palestinian leader discuss Biden’s recent visit to region, ‘Israeli crimes’

Jordan's King Abdullah II attends the Jeddah Security and Development Summit (GCC+3) at a hotel in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on July 16, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)
Jordan's King Abdullah II attends the Jeddah Security and Development Summit (GCC+3) at a hotel in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on July 16, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

King Abdullah II blamed a series of recent deadly clashes with drug smugglers along Jordan’s border with Syria on “militias linked to Iran.”

In an interview published Sunday in the Al-Rai newspaper, Abdullah claimed that Jordan faces “regular attacks on its borders by militias linked to Iran.” He called for “a change of behavior by Iran” and said that Jordan “does not want tensions in the region.”

“Jordan, like the rest of the Arab countries, seeks good relations with Iran, with mutual respect, good neighborliness, respect for the sovereignty of other states and non-interference in their affairs,” the king said.

Abdullah said that Jordan, like other Arab nations, was being targeted by smugglers of drugs and arms that he said were in transit to Europe.

“Jordan is coordinating with its brothers [Arab countries] to confront this and protect its borders,” he said.

The Jordanian army conducts regular anti-smuggling operations on the border with Syria, where Iran-backed fighters support the Damascus regime in a civil war that erupted in 2011.

This file photo provided on Friday Oct. 20, 2017 by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, shows Iran’s army chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, looks into binoculars as he visits and other senior officers from the Iranian military a front line in the northern province of Aleppo, Syria. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

On January 27, Amman said its forces killed 27 drug traffickers supported by armed groups, seizing a large quantity of drugs. An officer and a border guard were killed in a similar clash earlier the same month.

According to organizations that monitor drug trafficking, the increasingly popular amphetamine-style stimulant captagon is produced in government-controlled areas of Syria and marketed almost exclusively in the Middle East.

Also on Sunday, Abdullah hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his palace in Amman in their fourth meeting in five months.

Abbas briefed Abdullah on “the latest political developments in Palestine and the challenges facing our people as a result of the continuing Israeli crimes,” according to the official PA news agency Wafa.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman, July 24, 2022. (WAFA)

“The two leaders discussed bilateral relations and common issues between the two brotherly countries, as well as the latest political developments in the region,” the agency said.

The pair also discussed US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the region, which included stops in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Abdullah “stressed the firm position of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan towards the Palestinian cause and the kingdom’s unswerving support for the Palestinian people in obtaining their just and legitimate rights,” according to Wafa.

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