Officials in Jordan said they will take all necessary measures on its border with Syria to "protect its national security against any threat", according to government statements made Sunday (July 22nd).
"While we appreciate all efforts made by official agencies and civil and humanitarian aid organisations, recent developments require that all necessary measures be taken in the northern border region of the kingdom to protect national security against any breach or transgression of any kind," said Samih al-Maaytah, the minister of media and communications.
Al-Maaytah told reporters after a meeting that the government is "monitoring the situation very closely and will continue to work with all organisations to regulate refugee operations in the northern regions and focus its efforts to protect the borders and preserve Jordan's security while taking into account the humanitarian circumstances of our Syrian brethren".
"The government's first priority is to protect Jordan's national interests and its security, and officials will not hesitate to take any action to achieve this purpose," al-Maaytah said.
Last week, Jordan's King Abdullah II warned of the possibility that al-Qaeda could take advantage of the chaos in Syria, saying in an interview with CNN that Jordanian authorities have information that al-Qaeda has been present in Syria for a while.
The king also expressed concern about a potential civil war in Syria, noting that President Bashar Assad's government was dealt a painful blow by the bombing that targeted a national security meeting Wednesday and killed several prominent officials, including Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.
"Jordan is the country that is most affected by events in Syria because the Jordanian-Syrian border is more than 370 kilometres long," said Imad al-Abadi, a political analyst.
"Jordanians are monitoring the daily exchange of fire between the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian [government] near the border fence," he said. "Jordan increased its state of readiness in the northern region to meet any emergency".
Commenting on the king's statements, al-Abadi told Al-Shorfa that Jordan is monitoring the course of events closely and calling upon the international community to adopt a political solution to the crisis to ward off a myriad of risks. These risks include an all-out civil war erupting "in a country with a complex social mosaic" as well as risks stemming from the detection of al-Qaeda members.
"Jordan is pursuing the most expeditious solution possible in order to ward off developments with dire consequences, not the least of which would be their economic impact on Jordan, thereby precipitating widespread upheaval across the region," said Rakan Saaidah, an analyst.
The increase in the number of Syrian refugees in Jordan has strained the infrastructure in the kingdom including energy and water resources at a time when demand goes up during the summer.
"There are 35,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan who registered with the commission, and that is a small percentage of the actual number of Syrians in the kingdom," said Andrew Harper, a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Amman, Friday.
Officials estimate that 140,000 Syrians are now in Jordan.
"The number of Syrian refugees who cross over daily to Jordan is steady and averages about 600 a day," Harper said. "Most of them crossed through the border fence."