Why the King of Jordan’s Visit to Washington Matters—to Israel and to the U.S.

July 20 2021

Yesterday, King Abdullah II of Jordan met with President Biden—the latter’s first meeting with an Arab head of state since taking office. Writing in advance of the visit, Ghaith al-Omari and Ben Fishman discuss the problems currently facing the kingdom, America’s priorities, and how all this relates to Israel:

Externally, Jordan is facing challenges on all of its borders. To the north, the Syrian conflict has flooded the kingdom with refugees, cut off an important trade route, and threatened to bring Iran—directly or through its proxies—to its frontier. To the east, attempts to deepen relations with Iraq (whether bilaterally or through a trilateral process with Egypt) have produced diplomatic progress but few concrete economic dividends. To the west, a weak and fickle Palestinian Authority remains a source of concern, and relations with Israel’s leadership were extremely negative under the former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, causing civil and diplomatic affairs to suffer greatly (though security ties remained strong). And to the south, King Abdullah’s relations with the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman are tepid at best.

[But] Israel’s new prime minister Naftali Bennett and its foreign minister Yair Lapid have placed early emphasis on revitalizing the relationship with Amman. On July 8, Lapid and the Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi signed an important deal that will increase water sales to the kingdom (after the collapse of the long-negotiated Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance Project) and expand Jordanian trade to the West Bank. The United States should applaud this momentum and encourage other areas of cooperation, including healthcare, energy, the environment, and grassroots initiatives.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Israeli Security, Jordan, Joseph Biden, King Abdullah, Naftali Bennett, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy