Sailing in a Stormy Ocean
A Jordanian politician says, “It is necessary to always remember that we are not on the borders of Denmark and Austria,” but rather a ship in choppy seas, strong waves and great fluctuations that afflict countries and societies everywhere.
This seasoned politician spoke at a panel discussion (held by the Institute of Politics and Society in Amman and the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan) in which the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ayman Alsafadi, discussed with a group of analysts, politicians and academics the priorities of Jordanian diplomacy in the current year. And because the session is subject to the rules of Chatham House (meaning the circulation of information and ideas without being attributed to the speakers), I will refer in this article to some controversial points raised by the interlocutors, who, in turn, reflect various political and intellectual trends in the Jordanian political scene.
In defining and defining Jordanian strategic interests, there are essential and primary files; The Palestinian Question and the peace settlement, Syrians, and Iraqis. These are the main priorities of Jordanian diplomacy during the next year. According to the Jordanian elite, what are the challenges, expectations, and scenarios?
Although President Donald Trump’s exit from the White House lifted a heavy burden on the decision-maker in Amman and ended a disturbing scenario that was like a nightmare, if the man stayed and his son-in-law Jared Kushner continued his pressure, there are new facts that have been established and entrenched that cannot be changed or circumvented in The equation of the relationship with Israel, Jordanian and Palestinian! Such as moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and building more settlements, and the most important, and perhaps most dangerous, train of normalization that carried many Arab countries, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.
Most likely, Jordan will deal with these new relations as a fait accompli, imposed by the interests of normalizing countries. According to this direction, there is no point in continuing intransigence and denying the facts, because this will further isolate the Palestinians, and enable Israel to achieve its interests and overcome the obstacle of the Palestinian Question. Therefore, this political trend proposes to absorb the normalized Arab countries again, and to bridge the relationship with them, in favor of rebuilding the Arab narrative once more, in a manner that serves Palestinian and Jordanian interests, that is, trying to once again insert the Palestinian Question into the heart of the Arab-Israeli equation, and not completely exclude it in establishing such a situation. obstacles. On the other hand, there are major criticisms of this proposition, and doubts about its effectiveness and feasibility at the level of the Palestinian situation, from more than one angle:
Firstly, what is the value of the new Arab narrative? As long as Israel has taken what it wants and is fully aware that reality is stronger than narratives and discourses, and that Arab-Israeli normalization means that there is Arab acceptance of Israel, whether there is a settlement or not?
Secondly, the balance of power is tilting towards Israel, and the Israeli reality (even with the equation of the upcoming early elections there) has become swaying between the right and the right-wing extremist and another very-extremist one, and therefore no one in Israel will listen to this Arabic language, as long as the Arab reality is in this strategic breach!
Thirdly, building Arab narratives that close the wide gaps in the relationship between Arab countries is very difficult, in light of the wide and deep gap in the Arab countries’ vision of their interests, priorities, and sources of threat, and therefore this attempt may work to neutralize or mitigate internal Arab differences, and perhaps avoid their explosion But it will not change the deteriorating situation of the Palestinian cause as a result of the dissolution of the Arab strategic depth.
There is no choice in front of decision-makers in Amman but to work once again in an attempt to gather the Arab position and stop the current bleeding
As long as the idea of reconsidering Jordan’s strategic alliances is not raised in the places of the decision, neither Iran can be a strategic ally of Jordan, nor can the Turkish agenda be an alternative. An attempt to pick up an Arab position and stop the current bleeding. Stopping the deterioration and stopping the Israeli gains that were achieved during the Trump period could be the first goal of Jordanian diplomacy, and then return to “restoring the Arab position” as much as possible (perhaps this is more accurate in expression than the term “building a new Arab narrative”), which is a task (restoring the Arab position). It is difficult and requires a new Arab vision for the regional problems and changes that have occurred, and for common goals that restore momentum and justify maintaining the idea of Arabism as a regional political framework.
In the meantime, Jordan is developing a new tripartite relationship (with Iraq and Egypt) to achieve a common perspective on economic and security interests among the three countries, especially Iraq, which represented, and still is, a strategic depth for Jordan. Perhaps the rapprochement with the current government is advanced in tense and troubled stages after the occupation of Iraq in 2003, but what the decision maker in Amman realizes is that achieving good, continuous, and stable cooperation relations requires stability in Iraq, which is currently subject to US-Iranian interactions. There is consensus among the Jordanian political elite to support stability in Iraq, develop relations with the Iraqi government, and help it by all means to overcome internal crises, which may help achieve the tripartite rapprochement (Jordanian, Egyptian, and Iraqi).
Jordan’s rapprochement with Syria and Iraq means redefining the relationship with Iran, which intersects with the vision of other Arab countries, which see Iran as a major threat to them.
At the same time, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, spoke about the “new Levant project”, which includes Syria and Lebanon, in addition to the three countries, something that is still outside the framework of the ongoing tripartite meetings and has not been explicitly discussed. But if Jordan wants to take steps forward in the field of protecting its interests and developing its strategic perspective on the regional situation, as a direction the Jordanian elite sees, it is necessary to seek to include Syria in the tripartite relations, and to develop a network to deal with it, to restore consideration, also, at the level of the issue The Palestinian Authority plays the role of the “ring states”, as an important party in parallel to the Israeli proposal for “regional peace.”
Necessarily, rapprochement with Syria and Iraq means redefining the relationship with Iran, which intersects with the vision of other Arab countries, which see Iran as a major threat to them, and the situation may be less stressful with the new US administration, which has a less strict approach towards Iran.
It is clear, then, that there is a regional movement from the various countries of the region and a new arrangement of accounts with the beginning of the current year and the new US administration, and even international and regional changes, which are the matters that the Jordanian reading enters to draw the parameters of diplomacy required in a turbulent, tense and troubled region.