AMMAN, Jordan — Hundreds of Jordanians rallied in their capital Friday to protest proposed Western military action against neighboring Syria, denouncing the push for military intervention as a continuation of “American aggression” in Arab and Muslim countries.
The demonstration, led by Jordanian leftist and nationalist parties, drew about 1,000 people onto the streets of downtown Amman after noon prayers. The U.S. and European calls for military action follow allegations that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in a deadly attack on rebel-held areas outside Damascus last week.
During the rally, participants raised the flags of Syria and Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shiite group that is fighting together with Assad’s forces, and chanted, “From Damascus to Amman, we are one people united against the American dogs.”
Participants also protested a reportedly growing U.S. military presence in northern Jordan in recent days, chanting, “No to American dogs on Jordanian soil.”
The demonstration, the first public outcry here over the proposed strikes, comes amid rising concern among ordinary Jordanians that any military intervention will only widen a conflict that has posed economic and security challenges to Jordan and has driven more than half a million Syrian refugees into the country.
“Like all of America’s wars in the Arab world, Jordan will pay the price if they attack Syria,” said Mohammed Hamour, a 22-year-old engineering student, as he hoisted a Syrian flag in the air. “Any military attack on Syria will be an attack on the safety, security and livelihood of the Jordanian people.”
Other protesters pointed to the timing of the proposed military intervention — two years into the conflict and at a time when Islamist groups are gaining ground in Syria — as proof that the strikes represent little more than an “American-Zionist agenda” to weaken Arab and Islamic states.
Also Friday, a massive mobilization along the Jordanian-Syrian border entered its third day, with the Jordanian military placing its forces in a state of emergency, according to a Jordanian military officer based in the border area who is not authorized to speak to the media.
Eyewitnesses reported a flurry of military activity along the 230-mile-long border as dozens of tanks and F-16 fighter jets were mobilized.
The United States has bolstered Jordan’s border defenses in light of the rising violence in Syria over the past two months, delivering several F-16 fighter jets and Patriot missile batteries in June and, most recently, a fleet of drones.
The Jordanian government has refused to officially confirm or deny the reported military buildup along the border, stressing only that Jordan continues to support a peaceful political solution to the Syrian conflict, now in its third year, and ruling out the possibility that it will serve as a “launching pad” for any potential military intervention.