Iran’s conflict with Israel puts US ally Jordan on edge

Apr16,2024



Iran's unprecedented attacks on Israel and the prospect of escalating hostilities threaten Jordan, a key Western ally and a country considered vital by Gulf states to its security.
When the Islamic Republic fired missiles and drones at Israel on Saturday night, Jordan helped shoot down some of the missiles and drones that flew over its capital Amman, with Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi saying the kingdom responded to the projectiles with its own. Seen as “a real threat” to the region. ,
Although he immediately said that if Israel used Jordanian airspace to attack Iran the country would do the same, but the move prompted a flood of online abuse in the Islamic republic. Government media social-media site
All this was too much for Jordanian officials, who called the Iranian ambassador to demand an end to the insults.
Jordan had already seen weeks of protests in Amman in support of Hamas, the Iran-backed militia with which Israel has been fighting in Gaza since October, and Palestinians who were killed or lost their lives in the conflict. Slogans and slogans such as 'The whole of Jordan is Hamas' and 'Jordan's day of wrath' alarmed security officials and led to several arrests. Authorities are also on high alert after Iran-backed Iraqi militia leader Abu Ali al-Askari vowed to flood Jordan with enough weapons for 12,000 fighters to march on Israel.
All this has raised concerns about Jordan's stability in both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince mohammed bin salman And UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has offered his support to King Abdullah.
Ali Shihabi, a Saudi commentator close to the royal court, said, “For Saudi Arabia, Jordan is a shield against further Iranian expansion in the Levant”.
All this has become a puzzle for Jordan, a state of about 11 million people, many of whom are descendants of Palestinian refugees, located between Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Jordanian officials feel torn between the Israeli government, which they openly describe as a threat to regional peace and security, and the Iranian regime, eager to take advantage of the increasingly unpopular war in Gaza to expand its influence and reach. We do.
Jordan is not the only Arab country trying to balance confronting Iran with growing pro-Palestinian sentiment. Saudi Arabia has rejected reports that it has also shot down some projectiles fired by Iran. The country and the UAE said they were both deeply concerned about the regional political situation following Saturday's attack, but neither explicitly condemned Iran.
difficult words
“Our message to Iran is that your problem is with Israel and any attempt to insult Jordan is unacceptable and is clearly rejected,” Safadi told state-owned Mamlaka (Kingdom) TV on Sunday.
But he had equally strong words for the Israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahuWhich he accused of attacking Iran's consulate in Syria on April 1 to provoke a confrontation with Tehran, divert world attention and reduce pressure from Washington to end the war in Gaza.
“The root cause of tension in the region is Israel's aggression in Gaza and the steps taken to destroy the prospects for peace,” he said.
Speaking to US President Joe Biden on Sunday, King Abdullah warned that any Israeli retaliation to Iran's missile and drone attacks would escalate the conflict in the region. “Jordan will not allow a regional war to begin on its soil,” the king said in a statement.
gaza war
As the war in Gaza enters its seventh month, Amman's balancing act is becoming increasingly precarious. Authorities have allowed almost daily protests outside the Israeli embassy and have not allowed the Israeli ambassador to return since November, but have resisted popular demands to cut ties with Israel altogether.
Jordan is dependent on billions of dollars in aid from the US and the EU and enjoys long-standing and deep military and security cooperation with the West, limiting its ability to distance itself from the Jewish state.
“Jordan's economy runs on life support from outside donors,” said Ziad Daoud, chief emerging markets economist at Bloomberg Economics. In addition to almost continuous assistance from the International Monetary Fund since 1989 and $1.45 billion per year in US aid, the country is the third largest recipient of support from the oil-rich Gulf states.
Jordan faces a similar dilemma when it comes to Iran. While the kingdom was one of the first Arab countries to raise the alarm about Iran's expansionist agenda following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, it has tried to maintain diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.
But the growing strength of Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria and their involvement in drug and arms smuggling to and through Jordan prompted the king to announce in July that his country would deal with these groups “systematically on its borders.” Facing attacks”.
And now many current and former Jordanian officials fear that Iran and its allies, including Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the US and EU, are waging a war in Gaza to destabilize Jordan and advance their agenda. are using.
Former Jordanian information minister Samih al-Mayateh said, “The ongoing war in Gaza is an opportunity for various attempts to infiltrate Jordanian territory.”



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