Unrest in Jordan Should Be a Wake-Up Call to Israel and the U.S.

What exactly happened in Jordan last week remains unclear: the Jordanian authorities claim to have foiled a “malicious plot” involving the king’s half-brother, Prince Hamzah; Hamzah says he was only criticizing corruption; some reports described a failed coup; and Amman has forbidden any further media coverage of the matter. But the incident clearly ended on Monday when Hamzah declared in a signed statement that he has “put himself at the disposal” of King Abdullah. Whatever occurred, writes Hussein Ibish, Jordan’s allies and neighbors shouldn’t ignore it:

Plainly, all is not well in the kingdom as it prepares to celebrate its centenary this coming Sunday. The U.S. nonprofit Freedom House recently downgraded Jordan from “partly free” to “not free” in its annual assessment of the state of democracy worldwide. . . . The 100-year-old monarchy faces serious challenges at home and abroad. The Jordanian government’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic has deepened the longstanding public dissatisfaction over endemic corruption and general economic malaise. By casting himself as a crusader against corruption, Hamzah might have scored powerful points against the status quo represented by his half-brother.

On the foreign-policy front, Jordan has long felt taken for granted by the U.S., Israel, and Gulf Arab countries, all of which rely on the kingdom to play a quiet but essential regional role. The resentment in Amman deepened during the administration of President Donald Trump, when Washington seemed to go along with Israeli plans to annex large swathes of the West Bank. Jordanians regard annexation with existential dread because it could export Palestinian nationalism into the kingdom, given that over half its population is made up of Palestinians displaced by Israel in the 1948 and 1967 wars.

[T]he specter of instability in Amman should have set off alarms in capitals across the Middle East, and in Washington. A collapse of order could easily turn much of Jordan into a facsimile of parts of Iraq and Syria just over the border, with militias, Islamic State-like terrorist groups, tribal warlords, and other forces battling it out in a situation of protracted chaos. The Hamzah affair is a useful reminder of how much all the other parties stand to lose if, like many of its neighbors, Jordan begins to fall apart.

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Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Israeli Security, Jordan, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin