Last week, speaking at the Israel Defense conference on “Intelligence, Terror and Special Forces”, retired Jordanian army General and former Chief of Intelligence Mansour Abu Rashid unveiled what he called a “crazy proposal” to open a corridor to push fleeing Syrian refugees through Jordan into Saudi Arabia.
“My proposal is to open corridor from the Syrian border direct to Saudi Arabia here and let the Saudi Arabia [unintelligible] the refugee,” General Abu Rashid said. “They [Saudi Arabians] have a lot of money. They have a lot of oil. They have empty space and they have a lot of water there. Let them do that instead of Jordan to build the society.”
The plan received the most boisterous applause of the two-day conference from the crowd of mostly Israeli military-intelligence officials.
General Abu Rashid explained Jordan’s strategic importance to Israel. “Jordan is stable,” he said. “That means the area, including Israel, also will be stable. If Jordan is under threat by the other states or non-state actors in the whole area, I think the whole area will be not stable.”
He then warned that as the Islamic State expands, Israel will likely face waves of refugees attempting to cross its borders. Currently, Israel has the world’s lowest refugee acceptance rate. Israel regards refugees and asylum seekers as infiltrators and has enacted harsh measures in order to prevent dilution of the Jewish State’s preferred demographic makeup.
“If you remember, many years ago, 50,000 African people infiltrated from Africa through Sinai and into Israel and now you face a problem with those people,” the general said, referring to Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers who languish in Israeli detention centers and are being deported. “I fear that one day we can see Daesh, ISIS, can infiltrate also from the sea to [the] Saudi Arabia border and to the Jordanian border and crossing the Red Sea to Eilat and the Israel area.”
General Abu Rashid then called for the Israeli, Jordanian, Egyptian and Saudi regimes to work together to “not allow the people – the fighters – crossing from that area.”
“We have a big challenge now in Jordan. The challenge is the Syrian refugees. Before the Syrian refugees, the status quo and the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. As you know, more than 50% of the Jordanians originally are Palestinian. Anything that happens on the other side of the border is immediately reflected on Jordanian society. Our interest in Jordan is to have a stable situation in the West Bank and Gaza to see in the future an independent Palestinian state living together with Israeli state and with the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan,” he said.
General Abu Rashid went on to show images of Zatari refugee camp in a powerpoint slideshow. The camp was established in 2012 for Syrians fleeing the civil war. Located near the Syrian border, the camp holds more than 80,000 refugees. He warned that the refugees living on “Champs Elysees” – the nickname of the camp’s main street – are “violent” and “aggressive,” and they don’t like to see “blonde hair,” insinuating that white visitors would not be welcome.
He then went on to show images of Azraq refugee camp, a second camp established for Syrian refugees in 2014, featuring a quote from right-wing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying it is “one of the best planned refugee camps in the world.” General Abu Rashid’s slide praised Azraq camp’s food distribution system as, “not only more efficient, but offers refugees a sense of dignity and self-determination.”