Jordan is unlikely to join a land offensive against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq. The kingdom had intensified its airstrikes against IS positions in the aftermath of the brutal killing of its pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, reportedly on Jan. 3. The immolation of Kaseasbeh has shocked Jordanians and fostered a sense of national unity. King Abdullah has vowed to avenge the death of the pilot and promised to hit the militants hard on their home turf. So far, the Jordanian response has been limited to airstrikes, but analysts told Al-Monitor that the kingdom’s elite special forces could wage commando-style operations against selected targets as well, in coordination with the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga.
In the wake of Kaseasbeh’s execution, Jordanians rallied around the armed forces, which promised “an earth-shattering response.” Support for the aerial strikes has been unequivocal. Even the Muslim Brotherhood, which had earlier criticized Jordan’s decision to join the US-led air campaign against the militants, has condemned the pilot’s killing and declared that IS has no relation to Islam. As the world expressed sympathy and solidarity with Jordan, theWhite House and Congress promised to increase military aid to the kingdom. Last week, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain sent squadrons of F-16s to Jordan to join in the airstrikes, as Amman spearheaded the attacks from the Arab side of the coalition.
But a number of deputies, retired military officers and political figures expressed fear that Jordan was being dragged into an open-ended war outside its borders. A group of Jordanian personalities issued a statement on Feb. 11 voicing their rejection of “attempts to use the current wave of sympathy as a cover for military and security intervention in southern Syria in cooperation with American, French, Saudi and Israeli parties.”[…]