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Syrian ambassador expulsion received with mixed reaction from MPs

By Khaled Neimat - May 27,2014 - Last updated at May 27,2014

AMMAN — Two deputies on Tuesday expressed their satisfaction with the government’s decision to expel Syrian Ambassador Bahjat Suleiman from Amman.

“He left Jordan never to return again,” said MP Bassam Manasir, whom Suleiman once described as a “servant of the enemies of Syria and Jordan” after the lawmaker had called for expelling the envoy over his “provocative attitude”.

 “I hope this is going to be the starting point for the collapse of the Syrian regime,” Manasir told The Jordan Times in a phone interview.

Jordan on Monday asked Syrian Ambassador Bahjat Suleiman to leave the Kingdom within 24 hours, declaring him persona non grata.

In a retaliatory move, Syria informed the Jordanian embassy in Damascus that the charge d’affaires in Damascus, Mohammad Amin Abu Jamoos, who was in Amman, is not allowed to re-enter Syria.

The Foreign Ministry said the decision to expel Suleiman was taken due to his “repeated insults and offences” targeting Jordan and its leadership, institutions and citizens.

In January, the Syrian embassy’s press office issued a statement attacking MP Abdullah Obeidat for criticising President Bashar Assad under the Dome.

The embassy called Obeidat a “nobody” and an “idiot” who insulted the “symbol of the Syrian people”.

“This decision has been made to make sure that no more offensive actions affect Jordan and its relations with other countries,” Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh said.

When Suleiman’s insults were only levelled against Jordan, the government was tolerant “as I believe, Jordan is historically very tolerant when it comes to its rights”, Tarawneh added.

But since the diplomat “has crossed the line” by trying to damage Jordan’s national interests and its ties with neighbouring and friendly countries, the government stepped up to stop him, he said, describing the decision as one taken by civilised sovereign states.

Tarawneh expected the House to be divided over supporting or opposing the expulsion.

The Lower House reconvenes for an extraordinary session on June 6.

Deputy Tareq Khoury expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision to expel Suleiman, arguing that this should have been the case with the Israeli ambassador and not a diplomat of a “brotherly country”.

In a post on Facebook page, Khoury criticised the decision asking: “What shall we tell our children when they ask us why we expelled the Syrian Ambassador?”

Official sources said the decision does not mean severing diplomatic ties with Syria, as Syria can send another envoy to Amman.

“This is only a measure against Suleiman for his violations of diplomatic norms, and has no impact on the relations between the two states, or on Jordan’s position towards the situation in Syria,” a senior official said.

Jordan still believes in a peaceful, political solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria, he added.

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