PSI Launches the First Issue of the “Jordanian Politics and Society” Magazine

The Politics and Society Institute (PSI) launched the first issue of its magazine, “Jordanian Politics and Society,” (JPS) today, Tuesday. The issue includes a collection of key analyses and articles. It begins with a message from Abdul Karim Kabariti, the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the journal and former Prime Minister, who discussed the goals of the journal and the importance of think tanks in shaping political processes in today’s world. Kabariti highlighted the gap between think tanks and officials, decision-makers, and politicians in the Arab world. He called for strengthening the roles of such journals and other publications dedicated to enlightening decision-makers and politicians with insights, analyses, and strategic alternatives and options for dealing with developments and events taking place around us.

The issue begins with an interview with former Prime Minister Samir Al-Rifai, who is also the Chairman of the “Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System”. The interview covers several important and main topics, including an analysis and evaluation of Jordanian diplomacy during the war on Gaza, the objectives Jordan pursued in its foreign policy, and the extent to which Jordanian diplomacy succeeded in maintaining the delicate balance that Al-Rifai referred to, by maintaining positive and strong relations with all parties and adhering to a rational, moderate, and realistic approach in managing state affairs.

Regarding the internal equation and the potential impact of the war on Gaza on the political reform and modernization project, Al-Rifai dismisses such concerns. He believes that holding parliamentary elections and the signals coming from the King emphasize a commitment to continue on this political path without retreat.

Regarding Jordanian foreign policy and the war on Gaza, the issue includes two articles with differing perspectives. The first, by Dr. Hassan Al-Momani, Dean of the Prince Hussein Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, analyzes the determinants of Jordanian foreign policy during the Gaza war. He emphasizes the importance of Jordan being able to manage its regional relationships to serve its strategic interests with all parties. Although he acknowledges the importance of public opinion in policy-making, he stresses the necessity of adhering to realistic and rational thinking when dealing with the Palestinian issue and not raising expectations beyond Jordan’s capabilities. Al-Momani disagrees with analyses predicting a Jordanian-Israeli clash in the near future, arguing that Israel’s deep state, which understands Jordan’s strategic importance, will work to avoid any confrontation and maintain strategic and security relations with the Jordanian state.

On the other hand, Dr. Mohammad Abu Rumman, Academic Advisor at PSI and Professor of Political Science at the University of Jordan, discusses the issue of Jordanian national security and the Palestinian cause. He analyzes the main trends among the political elite close to decision-making in their view of Jordanian-Palestinian relations. He divides them into the traditional conservative trend (which sees the importance of maintaining a degree of realism, rationality, and a strategic relationship with Israel), and the neo-right wing trend that reflects internal Jordanian concerns about Jordan’s policy towards the Palestinian issue and seeks complete separation from the Palestinian file. Meanwhile, there is a new emerging trend among Jordanian elites within decision-making circles that does not present a comprehensive approach but suggests the importance of reviewing the structural changes happening today in Israel and the region. This trend stresses the need to move beyond the traditional vision that does not fully grasp the extent of strategic transformations and demographic and cultural changes occurring in Israel in recent years, which have diminished the realistic possibility of establishing a Palestinian state that meets the minimal demands of the Palestinians.

In his article, Abu Rumman argues that there are new and serious challenges to Jordanian national security and vital interests related to developments in Palestine. This issue affects many national files, necessitating the development of a new national theory, strengthening relations with Palestinians, and devising a more effective Jordanian approach, especially concerning the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Regarding the analysis of the repercussions of the Israeli war on Gaza on Jordanian policies, Dr. Ibrahim Saif, former Minister of Energy, Industry, and Trade and Jordanian economic expert, believes that this year’s budget was based on the assumption that GDP growth would be 2.8%. However, the ongoing war in Gaza has negatively impacted the Jordanian economy, particularly the tourism sector, which accounted for 13.8% of GDP in 2023. Dr. Saif also discussed the impact of boycotting Western products and services produced in countries with ties to Israel, leading to a decline in consumption. Additionally, the prevailing uncertainty in the region, especially in the private sector, has affected both local and foreign investments, resulting in the postponement or cancellation of many investments.

Dr. Saif concludes in his article that public financial challenges in 2024 and beyond will worsen. He anticipates that the government will resort to more borrowing, work on improving public spending efficiency, and encourage the private sector to partner with the government to avoid an economic slowdown. Dr. Ibrahim Saif believes that Jordan is now more than ever required to pursue its reform agenda, focusing on areas with economic and social impacts.

In terms of understanding the strategic shifts happening in Israel, Hassan Al-Barari, Professor of International Relations at the University of Jordan and Qatar University, writes about the war’s impact on Israeli internal policies and divisions within Israel. He predicts that these divisions will soon reach a breaking point, leading to the disintegration of the current ruling coalition in Israel and the emergence of a new government, which will be a mix closer to the center-right.

In the same context, a report by Mirna Al-Sarhan, a research assistant at PSI, monitors and analyzes what think tanks in Israel produce regarding Jordan and Jordanian policy towards Israel. The report notes that Jordan’s role in the Gaza war is viewed as secondary, neither primary nor influential. Al-Sarhan also observes that there is a limited amount of material and analysis related to Jordan in these centers, but most of it emphasizes the importance of maintaining strategic relations with Jordan and political stability within the country.

On the Palestinian policy front, a paper by Ahmad Jamil Azem, a professor of political science at Birzeit University and Qatar University, analyzes the strategic developments and implications of the Gaza war on the Palestinian situation. Azem argues that in militant work, the principle is that “the rifle plants, and politics reaps,” but the Palestinian situation is different, marked by significant political paralysis. While Fatah is plagued by numerous problems and the Palestinian Authority faces a dead end in its project and political gambles, Hamas also fails to be a globally and regionally acceptable alternative, or even a dominant project in the Palestinian scene. The problem, as Azem sees it, lies in the “zero-sum game” logic among Palestinian factions, which leads to mistrust and an inability to reach a consensual national project that prioritizes the higher interests of the Palestinian people today.

Shifting from the Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian contexts, political science professor and researcher Firas Elias provides a framework for the Turkish and Iranian stances during the Gaza war. Meanwhile, Syrian researcher Fadil Hanci offers an analysis of the Syrian situation during the Gaza war.

On a global scale, political science professor Nathan Brown contributes to this issue with an analytical article on future U.S. policies in the Middle East. After analyzing the international, regional, and domestic contexts and considerations that have shaped the Biden administration’s stance, Brown predicts that the U.S. administration will move away from military action in the coming phase and invest more in limited diplomacy, aiming to maintain America’s core interests in the region.

Murad Al-Shishani, Director of the Remax Group for the Analysis of Violence, analyzes the security dimensions and implications that could affect the region due to the war in Gaza. He concludes that the coming phase will see a strengthening of the narratives of jihadist groups, enhancing their ability to use current events to create a new wave of radicalization and recruit many Arab and Muslim youth on this basis.

In addition, Hasan Jaber, a researcher at the Politics and Society Institute (PSI), analyses the implications, motivations, and strategies of the Ansar Allah group (the Houthis) involvement in the conflict after October 7th. He also examines the impact on the stability and security of the Red Sea, particularly the Middle East.

As the war on Gaza is fraught with discussions about international and regional conspiracies, which take a central place in Arab culture, Abrar Al-Obwini, a research assistant at the Politics and Society Institute, reviews the book «The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories» by Jan-Willem van Prooijen, a renowned behavioral psychologist. The book provides a theoretical analysis of the extent to which conspiracy theories influence individuals’ lives and choices, and how they have led to the emergence of different ideologies and populist currents that have shown their influence in the political sphere. Therefore, van Prooijen sees the importance of studying conspiracy theories seriously, even if we reject them, as they have become a societal phenomenon that controls minds. The significance of this book is not to explain the validity of these theories or not, but rather to understand, study, and analyze the personal traits of those who believe in them and those who do not through a series of discussions between van Prooijen and a group of researchers in the psychology of conspiracy theories.

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