ANALYSIS: Is Jordan Really Israel’s Peace Partner?
Netanyahu is a “stinky yahoo” and Israel a “terrorist state,” according to our peace partners in Jordan
Much has already been said and written about the Israeli-American plan to introduce Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley which should retain Israel’s strategic depth in every scenario.
The border with Jordan has been the quietest of all Israeli borders with neighbor states including the border with Gaza that has been ruled by Hamas since 2017.
This is the less quiet border of all as was proven this week too when Palestinian terrorists again fired missiles and launched incendiary balloons at southern Israel while a sniper squad of the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired upon Israeli soldiers patrolling the border with Gaza.
King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom succeeded to stay out of the turmoil that engulfed many Arab countries since 2011 and that continues until this very day.
Jordan’s stability is under increasing threat, however, after new protests against the failed economic policies and alleged corruption of the King erupted.
Jordan is home to a more than two million majority of Palestinian Arabs who are increasingly showing their hostility to the regime of Abdullah II and cause him to play the Palestinian card in his policies toward Israel.
Abdullah is carrying out a balancing act between safeguarding Jordan’s economic interests in the relations with Israel while on the other hand collaborating with the hostile policies of the Palestinian Authority toward the Jewish state.
So, Jordan signed a deal with Israel under which the Jewish state would export natural gas from the Leviathan gas field which began to produce gas at the end of December 2019 but Jordan’s parliament then unanimously passed a law to ban the import of Israel gas. The King has until now ignored the law, however, because Israeli gas is vital for the Jordanian economy.
Another example of Abdullah’s duplicity in his politics toward Israel is his official rejection of introducing Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley while quietly he hopes Israel will go through with implanting sovereignty over the strategically important region because it protects his own regime.
Abdullah II is well aware of the internal Palestinian strife and fears a Hamas takeover of the so-called West Bank, Judea and Samaria after which Hamas will not only start to terrorize Israel but will radicalize the more than two million Palestinian Arabs in Jordan as well.
The King is also well aware of the fact that most Palestinian Jordanians are hostile to his regime but he controls (with American help) the security forces while the Palestinian citizens of Jordan control the economy.
To prevent a repeat of the tragedy that befell his grandfather Abdullah I, who was murdered by a Palestinian Arab in Jerusalem, the King has a security detail consisting of Circassians who migrated to the so-called Levant, territory comprising parts of Iraq, Syria, Israel, Jordan and the whole of Lebanon, during the last period of the Ottoman Empire.
The desert country is, furthermore, home to more than 500.000 Iraqi refugees as well as an estimated 1 million Syrian refugees the majority of them are radicalized Muslims who could pose a long-term to Abdullah’s rule.
Both the Iraqi and Syrian refugees are a burden for Jordan and the fact that a majority of them has only known war, tyranny and destruction in their country of origin plus the fact that rehabilitation in Jordan has failed so far, fuels fear that they will become a fifth column that will ultimately help the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups to overthrow Abdullah’s regime
The influx of refugees has further undermined Jordan’s already very weak economy that has been in an “economic correction phase” implemented in 1989 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The country’s economy has been relying on loans and is far from becoming self-sufficient.
Public debt nears $ 40 billion near as much as the country’s Gross Domestic Product while the unemployment rate is over 20 percent with youth unemployment reaching more than 40 percent.
A wide-scale public uprising against Abdulla’s regime remains a real possibility and that could, in turn, bring the Iranians into the fray just like the Quds Force of the assassinated architect of the expanding Islamic Revolution used the turmoil in Iraq and Syria to entrench Iran in both countries.
Iran eyes the 300 miles-long border between Israel and Jordan since it would be able to complete the project to encircle Israel and then annihilate the Jewish state by launching a multi-front war not seen in the history of Israel.
For this reason Israel, Saudi Arabia and, the United States are supporting continued financial and military support for Jordan that has a shared border with Syria and Iraq where Iran is pulling the strings.
It was also the reason Abdullah II asked President Donald J. Trump last year not to pull-out a small regiment of US Special Forces that is patrolling parts of the Syrian border with Jordan.
When mass protests against a government plan to increase income taxes in order to save the economy took place in the summer of 2019 Saudi Arabia decided to resume financial aid to Jordan which had been halted temporarily over differences regarding the Palestinian issue.
Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf States gave Abdullah $ 2.5 billion after which the tax increase was canceled.
The two countries now discuss new business projects in Jordan worth another $3 billion.
Despite his often sharp rhetoric against Israel’s policies vis a vis the Palestinian Arabs and the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem Abdullah’s security forces are quietly working together with the IDF and Israeli intelligence just as they do with the Egyptians who also have an interest in keeping Abdullah II in power.
The rhetoric against Israel by Jordanian government officials is only increasing, however.
Atef Al-Tarawneh, the speaker of the Jordanian House of Representatives, on Thursday launched a new blistering attack on Israel and said the country was indulging in “state terrorism” while he also accused Israel of putting “the entire region on a boiling plate of blood and tension.”
State-controlled Jordanian media went even further and used the curse “Stinky Yahoo” in a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.