Jordan Shares Much of the Blame for Its Rocky Relations with Israel

March 15 2021

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu canceled what was supposed to be a historic visit to the United Arab Emirates. The prime minister officially changed his plans because Jordan delayed granting permission to use its airspace for his flight, but there has also been speculation that other factors were at play. Nevertheless, the poor state of relations between Jerusalem and Amman is undeniable. While it has a variety of causes, Herb Keinon argues that Jordan’s King Abdullah bears a great deal of responsibility:

[I]t is Abdullah who has reportedly refused to take calls from the prime minister for four years now; it is Abdullah who insisted on the return of Naharayim and Tzofar, [two border villages leased to Israel in the 1994 peace treaty]; and it is Abdullah who has refused U.S. requests to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, one of the masterminds of the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001 that killed fifteen, including two American citizens, and wounded 122.

Most of all, it is Abdullah who has done next to nothing during his more than two decades on the throne to promote people-to-people ties with Israel. Sure, he wants Israeli security, intelligence, and water assistance, but he does nothing when Jordanian labor unions call for a boycott of Israel, and paint a picture of an Israeli flag on the floor of their headquarters in Amman to be used as a mat. The 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty never filtered down to the people of Jordan, and Abdullah bears much of the responsibility for that.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel diplomacy, Jordan, King Abdullah, Palestinian terror, United Arab Emirates

 

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy