June 27, 2013. Amman. Last week, operation Eager Lion 12 concluded in Jordan. The annual war games featured 19 nations, including a few that may be fighting for the Syrian government against US troops if that nation’s civil war spills over its borders. See the full list of countries participating in the 12-day Jordan war games below.
US & Jordanian military commanders brief the international press during Exercise Eager Lion 12. Image courtesy of the Jordan Times.
US commanders insist that last week’s multi-nation war games had nothing to do with the civil war next door in Syria. The fact that it is only the third time that the joint military exercises were held in Jordan is being dismissed by officials as merely coincidence. But the extent to which various government and military spokesmen are pushing that story is making many skeptical.
“This exercise does not target anyone, none of the neighboring or world countries,” said Jordanian Major Gen. Awni El-Edwan. One of the war games’ US commanders, Rear Adm. William Lescher, repeated that difficult-to-believe sentiment. “Our focus is to really just work well with the Jordanians,” he responded when asked about the games’ connection to the Syrian war only a few miles away, “That's not on my radar screen.”
While that statement is most likely figuratively incorrect, it is most definitely a dishonest statement in real life as well. Without a doubt, the US military has thousands of radar screens focused on the war in neighboring Syria. Even the host nation’s own military commanders are admitting that fact.
One of those is retired Jordanian Col. Khalil Rawahneh, who was a participant in at least 16 such joint war games with the US. “With this exercise being the biggest fire power show ever in Jordan, coupled with the deployment of Patriot air defense systems and US fighter jets, it is clear that the ground is being set for military intervention in Syria," ABC News quoted him saying. Former Jordanian Army Brigadier General Ali Habashna echoed that sentiment, "We all know that when the US puts its troops somewhere, in a country, they become part of the crisis, they worsen it.”
US Major General Robert Catalanotti denies that accusation, insisting, “We are not training on any border, whether it be the north, south, west or east.” Countering that claim, dozens of international news organizations have already documented that the US has troops on or near the Jordanian border with Syria. And US leaders themselves have admitted that they have left behind a number of Patriot Missile batteries, which are useless if not deployed along the border.
List of participating nations
Among the list of 19 nations that participated in the just-concluded Exercise Eager Lion 12 are some curious names. Among them are current Syrian allies that have previously pledged to wage war and jihad against US forces if they were to ever invade another Muslim nation. Most ominous among them is Lebanon - Syria’s neighbor, surrogate and closest ally, and home to Hezbollah.
Complete list of participating nations in Eager Lion 12 (from Centcom.mil):
In addition to Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan have also repeatedly shown their resolve to fight US forces on the ground, while simultaneously proclaiming their allegiance from the Presidential Palace. For years, the Pakistani government has provided cover, literally and figuratively, to insurgent forces fighting American troops in neighboring Afghanistan. The country also hid Osama bin Laden, who like most Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, attacked US troops in Afghanistan and then fled across the border into Pakistan for protection.
A report from WorldAffairsJournal.org explains, “Tensions escalated further as the US began pressuring Pakistan to attack the Haqqani Network (HN), a Taliban group with safe havens in North Waziristan. Pakistan refused, and crisis hit when the HN launched a twenty-two hour assault on the US Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul. An infuriated Admiral Mike Mullen, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lashed out against Pakistan, saying the HN was a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.”
While it’s true that the Taliban and al Qaeda are allied with the Syrian rebels, it’s also worth noting that Pakistan has for years officially declared those two Islamic fundamentalist organizations as national enemies. And Americans have seen first-hand how insincere the American-backed and American-funded Pakistani regime is concerning its alliance with the US.
For its part, Iraq would have been a valuable ally against the Assad regime in Syria, except the US overthrew its Sunni government and allowed the nation’s Shiite majority to take control. It’s a widely accepted belief that Iraq’s closest ally is now Iran, not the US. Just in recent weeks, Iraq has awarded a number of prime energy contracts not to American corporations, but to the Russians and Chinese who are allied with Iran and the Syrian government.
Also Illustrating Iraq’s questionable allegiance to the West is a recent report from Middle East Perspectives explaining, ‘In an unfortunate move that was easily predictable, the Iraqi government released Hizballah fighter Ali Musa Daqduq. Daqduq immediately returned to the safety of Beirut where he is considered a hero by his Hizballah colleagues. Daqduq was accused by American forces of organizing an attack in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala' in January 2007 - that attack resulted in the death of five US Army soldiers. Daqduq was in Iraq at the behest of the Hizballah's primary sponsor, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods Force. Daqduq's mission was to train Iraqi Shi'a militias in Hizballah tactics.’
These are the countries that the US considers not only military allies, but has included in its just-concluded war games in Jordan. If the forces the US now has stationed in Jordan and the rest of the region should become involved in the Syrian war, American troops may just find themselves once again being shot at by not just the enemy, but by our supposed allies as well.
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Preparing for war
At the conclusion of the multi-national war games last week, US officials seemed to contradict their earlier promises that the games had nothing to do with the conflict in neighboring Syria. American commanders have confirmed that a large contingent of US forces have stayed behind in Jordan for the purpose of both nations’ mutual defense.
Among the US forces already deployed throughout Jordan are semi-secret training bases run by US military intelligence for the purpose of training the Syrian rebels. Left behind from operation Eager Lion are a number of surface-to-air Patriot Missile batteries and a squadron of 12-24 F-16 Fighters. Two weeks ago, Israeli news outlets reported that 1,000 US Marines had arrived in Jordan and deployed along the country’s border with Syria. Similar reports now claim that number has been increased to 4,000.
For their part, US officials still insist the American military build-up in Jordan and other countries in the region has nothing to do with the Syrian conflict. But after watching US tactics prior to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, nobody’s buying it.
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