Editor's Note: Barbara Starr is in Jordan covering the Eager Lion 2012 exercise. Read her reporting here. Watch her reports on Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (4pET-6pET)
By Barbara Starr, reporting from the border crossing between the towns of Ar-Ramtha Jordan, and Daara Syria
In the no-man's-land between Jordan and Syria, tensions can be high. Tens of thousands of Syrians have escaped across this remote desert region.
They are being shot at by their own security forces as they try to escape, Jordanian officials tell CNN's Security Clearance. In fact, in a local hospital on the Jordanian side, they tell us they have treated many Syrian refugees suffering from gunshot wounds.
But there is cross-border commerce as well. The Syrian border is an economic lifeline for Jordan.Taxis and trucks leave Syria with cheap goods, including food and other commodities that are sold in Jordan. Jordanian officials say their country still relies a good deal on this commercial traffic from Syria. The majority of Jordan's overland imports come over the Syrian border, the officials tell us.
That dependence on Syria has made for tricky times for Jordan's government. While Jordanians want Bashar al-Assad out of office, they have not supported providing arms to the opposition. The government wants to keep peace in this very tense region, but it's also concerned that the Syrian government will retaliate.
A big worry is that an angered Syria would force Palestinian refugees over the border. For Jordan, a small country struggling with a poor economy burdened by a growing refugee problem of its own, a forced influx would be overwhelming.