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Addressing Jordan’s domestic and regional security challenges

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Dr. Shehab Al-Makahleh

Jordan has always been wedged between regional threats, domestic socio-economic pressures and international conflicts. Amongst the key challenges and concerns are the current ramifications of the Syrian crisis, the stalemate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and upsurge in radicalism in the Middle East region due to economic and political issues.

Jordan has emerged as a dominant player in the Middle East. The kingdom has close relations with the West and is a chief non-NATO ally. Consequently, Jordan’s unrivaled geostrategic position has made it an indispensable actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian civil war, and the global war on terrorism. Today, Jordan is one of the most stable Arab countries in the Middle East. The kingdom has not succumbed to violence that plagued other countries since the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 because of the unity and coherence between the people and their leadership. In spite of continuous forecasts about the demise of the country because of domestic stresses and the unbridled politics of the Middle East region, Jordan and its leadership have proven they are resilient time and again.

 

Since its independence, Jordan has been through many coercive armed encounters, surrounded by countries that spilled into civil armed conflicts. However, the kingdom has remained an oasis of stability in a troubled region, managing to host 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have streamed across the border while still attracting tourists from other states. Syrian refugees constitute 11 per cent of Jordan’s population.

 

When terrorists targeted three hotels in Amman in 2005 for political stances, Jordan has taken swift and confident responses that were received with broad popular approval even from those who had demonstrated against the government. According to some experts in Jordanian politics and security issues in some western countries, the recent incidents in some cities that were conducive to some fatalities due to radical manipulation of peaceful demonstrations were attributed to two reasons. First, radicals have been unnoticed due to recent demonstrations in some cities. Such demonstrations cannot be a real antidote to the real economic predicament as these figures try to record a win over the concerned authorities.  Second, security forces dealt with demonstrations in very peaceful and civilized manner as they are from the people, of the people and for the people. Even in the most civilized democracies, security forces exercise their duties even if this requires violence on their part.

According to some Western analysts and scholars, though allegations of corruption have been dealt with by the concerned authorities including the State Security Court and the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission, many people still view these as very limited reforms though they have garnered some consent and acceptance. Yet, the regional and international developments since 2019 have presented an inimitable confluence of encounters that entail political reforms, socio-economic pressure and insinuations of the peace for prosperity plan or the “Deal of the Century”.

To assist Jordanians, allies and friends should offer more than just rhetoric because the kingdom is paying a heavy price due to its focus on national security: humanitarian aid and loans would help, but they are not solutions to its drastic challenges that are exacerbated because of the country’s strategic location. Jordan should be offered a sustainable assistance for its moderation to boost its stability and security which are key to the region to prosper and thrive. Many countries are longstanding allies of Jordan; they can manifest real leadership in regurgitating a regional commitment to maintaining Jordan’s stability and security because the kingdom’s current situation requires supporters, spearheaded by regional powers.

No country can stand more than what Jordan has undergone so far of political, economic and security pressures. It is a must to improve the Jordanian economy by creating new job opportunities for university turnouts and to equip them with necessary training after graduation to meet market needs. Thus, the international community should launch investments in Jordan that help create job opportunities for the young Jordanians in the near future.

Because Jordan’s moderate role is key to regional stability, the continuity of the Hashemite custodianship over the Holy Shrines in Jerusalem (Christian and Muslim) will help resolve the current standstill between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The logjam in peace treaty between Palestinians and Israelis is the real source of tension. Furthermore, the two-state solution without repudiating endeavors to replace or undermine the Hashemite custodianship over East Jerusalem is a must to resolve all pending issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Finally, had Jordan’s allies considered the kingdom as a strategic partner, they should have recognized the kingdom’s security concerns by enhancing regional peace and stability, without which Jordan will be always in need of continuous support. Trust in the country’s capacities is a must. Jordanian concerns should be addressed properly at the regional and international levels as a long-lasting peace is not only beneficial for Jordanians or Palestinians, but also for all regional and international players. A lasting peace leads to a long-standing security.