Jordan war games have kicked off as Syria’s civil war rages next door. Hundreds of U.S trained Jordanian commandos spread across the desert, holding war games that may eventually form the basis of a military intervention in Syria. Nicknamed “Eager Lion,” the 12-day exercise combines land, air and sea maneuvers and brings 8,000 personnel from 19 Arab and European nations to train on border security, irregular warare, terroism and counterinsurgency targeted to the spillover situation in Syria.
According to some mounting speculation, the U.S.-backed exercises may provide Jordan with the highly skilled, U.S trained commandos to secure Assad’s chemical weapons and create a safe haven for Syrian refugees along Syria’s border with Jordan.
In an interview with AP, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Duke Shienle said Syria “is a concern that all our regional partners share.” The Syrian crisis is “causing all military in the region to increase intensity,” he said as he supervised masked commandos from Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon in a mock exercise to free a hijacked aircraft on an airstrip in the eastern Jordanian desert.
Spillover from Syria’s civil war is already felt in Jordan as one of the neighboring country’s Syrian refugee camps is the the second largest in the word. Nearly half-a million Syrian refugees have crossed into Jordan, seeking refugee from violence. U.S military strategists have taught Jordanian riot police to contain a mock protest by angry mobs in a croweded refugee camp.
Not all training was geared toward military offensives. Other training focused on humanitarian relief and crisis aimed at providing assistance to Syrian refugees.
Meanwhile, Washington has deployed air defense systems and fighter jets along Jordan’s border with Syria — a move Syria its staunch ally Russia have expressed concern over. Having said that, the United States has stated that it has no plans for a military intervention in Syria, although the White House has confirmed that it will be sending arms to trusted Syrian rebel groups.
The Syrian war has evolved into the the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis and with little promise for resolution, international powers are pressured to get involved.