Internal Tensions in Jordan Are Growing, and a Renewal of the Peace Process Could Make Them Worse

March 15 2019

For nearly its entire history, the kingdom of Jordan has been riven by the division between its Palestinian and Bedouin populations. In recent years, hostility to the ruling dynasty has grown among the Bedouin, who were once reliably and almost uniformly loyal; a number of Bedouin religious leaders even pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Daniel Siryoti writes that the anticipated U.S. peace proposal for Israelis and Palestinians could further disrupt Jordan:

The Bedouin in Jordan see themselves, justifiably, as the pillar of their nation, whereas the Palestinians are considered guests. But while most Bedouin income comes from public service, the Palestinians are mostly concentrated in Amman and the other large cities and do well in the private sector. The Bedouin tribes and clans continue to seethe as they watch their Palestinian “guests” flourishing and accumulating wealth and status.

[This] inherent tension between the Bedouin and the Palestinians in Jordan is made more complicated by its religious aspect. While the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan is made up mainly of Palestinians, the Jordanian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (which is in effect the movement that oversees Hamas) is walking a tightrope and being careful not to put Palestinians in top roles, preferring religious figures from the Bedouin sector. [Moreover], one reason the kingdom has managed to remain stable through the events of the Arab Spring and the Islamic winter that followed is that it enjoyed sweeping, albeit secret, support from the Muslim Brotherhood. . . .

Various reports claim that Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” will probably include the establishment of a pan-Arab Islamic council, led by Saudi Arabia, to manage the local waqf—the entity that oversees the Temple Mount. For the Jordanian royal family, that means it would be booted out of its exclusive role at the holy site.

In response to this threat, Siryoti concludes, Jordan has reshuffled the waqf leadership—and the new leaders are likely responsible for the recent disturbances at the Temple Mount, which could in turn derail the peace process and help the Jordanian monarchy maintain its authority.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Bedouin, Jordan, Palestinians, Peace Process, Politics & Current Affairs, Temple Mount

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey