(MENAFN - Jordan Times) As Arab foreign ministers gather in Cairo today to reasses the Arab League's response to the ongoing crisis in Syria, the debate will likely present several diplomatic challenges for Jordan, observers say.
With its own position tied to Arab consensus, observers say decision makers in Amman are left with few "good options" amidst warning signs that the 10-month-old crisis in its northern neighbour may be heading towards civil strife.
A series of competing proposals and suggestions have been made, ranging from withdrawing the Arab League's one-month-old observer mission to deploying Arab troops onto Syrian soil.
Amidst the competing calls, one aspect is clear, according to analysts: The ongoing failure of the Arab League initiative to halt a military crackdown that has claimed the lives of over 5,000 civilians has placed Jordan in a "difficult spot".
"It is difficult to have killings on your doorstep but at the same time geopolitical and economic realities have left Jordan with few attractive options," said Marwan Muasher, former minister of foreign affairs and currently vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment.
A major dispute arises over the role of observers, with competing views on whether to increase the number of observers or to end the mission altogether.
According to diplomatic sources, there are no plans to withdraw Jordan's team of 12 observers - the largest single contingent in the observer mission - with Amman likely to support efforts to extend the observer mission as the "best worst case scenario".
"Jordan will continue to support efforts to give the Arab League every opportunity to carry out the Arab initiative to end the crisis," said Samih Maaytah, political observer and head of Al Arab Al Yawm daily's editorial board.
In today's meetings, Jordan is expected to reaffirm its position on maintaining an "Arab solution" to the Syrian conflict, a position that analysts say Amman will find increasingly difficult to maintain following the struggles of an observer mission some claim was "doomed from the start".
"The observers had no training and a limited mandate, and issued statements that were heavily criticised. This experience has shattered public faith in the Arab League's ability to bring a solution to the Syrian crisis," said Nasooh Majali, political observer and former minister of information.
"Right now the Arab League's response is aiding the Syrian regime and not the people, and this poses a real challenge to Jordan," he added.
Despite the faltering monitoring mission, efforts to escalate the Arab response, such as Qatari Emir Hamad Al Thani's suggestion to dispatch Arab troops to bring an end to the conflict, are unlikely to draw any support from Jordan.
"Sending Arab troops to an Arab state is a very difficult decision to make. We have only seen it a couple of times in history," noted Muasher.
"It is difficult to see Jordan supporting such a position at this time."
Complicating Jordan's position regarding the Arab consensus on Syria is the role of the Syrian opposition, with the Free Syrian Army recently announcing Syrian forces' withdrawal from the town of Zabadani - marking the small town on the Lebanese border as the first region in Syria to come under the control of rebel forces.
Unlike the Libyan experience, which saw Arab governments support armed opposition groups in the early days of their popular revolt, observers say Jordan will likely oppose any diplomatic efforts supporting the transformation of a peaceful revolution in Syria into an armed revolt.
"We don't want to see civil strife in the Arab world, particularly at Jordan's doorstep and Jordan will take measures to prevent this," said Muasher.
Observers' hesitance stemming from concerns that any support for the band of Syrian army defectors may lead to a protracted conflict with unforeseen consequences.
"Jordan supports the Syrian people's efforts to secure their basic rights, but after the experience in Iraq, decision makers will be very cautious of any proposal to arm rebels," Maaytah said.
According to observers, the greatest dilemma facing Jordan is the potential "internationalisation" of the response to the Syrian crisis.
Sunday's gathering of foreign ministers comes amidst renewed calls by the Syrian opposition for international intervention - with the Syrian National Council meeting with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi on Saturday to urge the body to transfer the file to the UN Security Council.
His Majesty King Abdullah acknowledged in an interview with The Washington Post that change will not occur without "greater involvement" of the international community.
From potential increase in refugees to impacts on the Kingdom's economy, observers say decision makers are wary of the "dramatic impact" any international intervention in Syria will have on the Kingdom.
Officials insist that Jordan would throw its support behind international intervention, only if decided by the Arab League.
"Jordan's position is the consensus of the Arab League, and if there is a decision to transfer the Syrian file to the UN Security Council, Jordan will support it," said Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Mohammed Al Kayed.
Rather than participate in any international response, a diplomatic source said Jordan will likely take a "lead from behind" approach in any international involvement, offering logistical support for any international efforts to establish a protective zone or enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.
"There are concerns that any direct international intervention in Syria will complicate Jordan's ties with other states in the region," said the source.
As the Arab League struggle to craft a united response and the violence in Syria continues, analysts say prospects are dimming for Amman's most desired outcome in the protracted crisis.
"Jordan will continue to hold out for a swift end to the violence and a peaceful transition of power and reconciliation," Muasher said. "This is the true solution."