Jordan Does Not Benefit from Creating Tension with Israel

Dec. 12 2022

More than two decades before the signing of the Abraham Accords, Amman made peace with Jerusalem. Their cooperative relationship goes back at least to the early 1970s, when Israel intervened to stop a Syrian attempt to overthrow the kingdom and the king of Jordan tried to warn Israel of the impending Yom Kippur War. Yet, Jonathan Schanzer observes, while economic relations and behind-the-scenes security coordination continue, Jordan increasingly sends hostile public messages to its neighbor, and the past decade has been punctuated with crises.

To be sure, Jordan should not be counted among the Iranian axis that actively calls for Israel’s destruction (Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon). However, Jordan today does not fit within the bloc of pragmatic states, such as the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and even Saudi Arabia. Instead, it appears to have found its place among the nonaligned states of the Arab world (for example, Algeria and Kuwait). These are states that advocate stridently for the Palestinian cause and reject normalization. But there is one difference between Jordan and the other states that fit this description: the others do not urgently require sustained assistance from America, Israel, or the Gulf states. This should give the Hashemite kingdom pause.

Historically, political, and diplomatic independence has not been a deleterious thing for Jordan. This fierce sense of independence has steered the kingdom away from toxic nationalist, religious, and ideological trends, such as Islamism and Nasserism. However, in this case, it is difficult to discern what Jordan gains, apart from appeasing some of its own subjects at the expense of greater regional instability and increased prosperity.

The status quo, one in which Jordan enjoys the perks of peace while simultaneously excoriating Israel for real and imagined transgressions, does not portend stability in the region. Nor does it bode well for Jordan, given its dependence upon Israel or the other countries that have committed to a fundamental transformation of the Middle East. The Hashemite kingdom must conduct a strategic review of its peace with Israel, with an eye toward openly acknowledging and further strengthening the security and trade ties that are indispensable for Jordan. Such a review should also assess the potential dangers of allowing ties with Israel to deteriorate, particularly as Jerusalem loses patience with such scathing public rhetoric. Jordan should also conduct a review of the benefits of joining Abraham Accords structures, with the goal of pursuing stability, security, and prosperity.

Read more at FDD

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel diplomacy, Jordan, U.S. Foreign policy


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy