Syria’s pro-regime tribes reject Jordanian king’s support

20 Jun 2015

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DAMASCUS: Sheikh Mohammed Faris (second from left) of the Tay tribe sits under a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he addresses a press conference of tribal leaders on Friday.—AFP
DAMASCUS: Sheikh Mohammed Faris (second from left) of the Tay tribe sits under a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he addresses a press conference of tribal leaders on Friday.—AFP

DAMASCUS: Representatives of some of Syria’s leading pro-government tribes on Friday rejected support from Jordan’s King Abdullah II against the self-styled Islamic State, accusing him of backing “terrorists”.

Their comments came after the Jordanian monarch, in a meeting with tribal leaders in his country, pledged to support tribes in areas of Syria and Iraq where the jihadists are operating. “It is our duty as a nation to support the tribes in eastern Syria and western Iraq,” the king was quoted as saying by Jordanian official media during the meeting on Sunday.

While the pledge was welcomed by some tribes in Iraq, the comments were received differently in Syria, where the government accuses Amman of backing rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

“The Syrian tribes firmly and definitively reject any call or project to deprive them of their national, Syrian, Arab essence,” said Sheikh Mohamed Fares Al-Abd Al-Rahman of the Tay tribe.

Speaking underneath a photo of Assad at a Damascus press conference, he expressed “surprise” at King Abdullah’s comments.

The king, he said, “is well aware of who is behind the terrorists and where their operations rooms and military training camps are located, where their funding and weapons come from, and how they enter our country from Jordan”. Syria’s government has long accused Jordan of facilitating the uprising against Assad, in particular by allowing fighters to cross its border freely.

Damascus deems all those fighting against the regime “terrorists,” and makes no distinction between Western and Arab-backed rebels and IS jihadists.

Jordan is hosting a US-run programme to train Syrian rebels to fight against the Islamic State and is reportedly a key backer of rebels who have made several gains against the government in southern Syria recently.

Published in Dawn June 20th, 2015

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