Strained ties between Jordan and Syria flared Monday with both Arab countries announcing they would expel diplomats representing the two neighbor states.
The Jordanian government said it declared Syria’s ambassador to Amman, Bahjat Suleiman, a persona non grata and requested that he leave the kingdom over “repeated insults” to the Hashemite kingdom.
“The government considers the Syrian ambassador to Jordan persona non grata and demanded he leave the country within 24 hours,” state-run Petra news agency reported, quoting foreign ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafi.
“The decision comes after Suleiman’s repeated insults to Jordan and its leadership, institutions and citizens, through his meetings, writings and social media websites,” she said.
According to Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Bahjat, a former general and intelligence chief, had violated diplomatic protocol by posting repeated comments on social media that criticized Jordan.
In a tit-for-tat move, a Syrian state television said authorities would expel Jordan’s charges d'affaires to Damascus.
“The foreign affairs minister will order the expulsion of the charges d’affaires in Damascus after Jordan decided to consider Syria’s ambassador persona non grata,” Al-Ikhbariya television said.
Strains between to the two countries have been strained ever since the uprising in Syria, where government troops backed by Hezbollah have been battling to Syrian opposition forces.
Jordan has harbored more than one million refugees from neighboring Syria’s civil war.