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July 6, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10064

Strong Opposition In Jordanian Press To Kingdom’s Participation In Regional Military Alliance With Israel Against Iran

July 6, 2022
Iran, Jordan | Special Dispatch No. 10064

Recently, ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, there have been many reports that the U.S. administration intends to promote the establishment of a NATO-like military alliance in the region in order to confront various security threats, chief of them Iran. According to the reports, this alliance is meant to include the moderate Arabs states, among them Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan, as well as Israel, and will be discussed at the July 16 summit in Jeddah between Biden and by the leaders of  Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

So far, no official from any of these countries has addressed the issue, with the exception of Jordanian King ‘Abdullah II. Asked whether Jordan would join such an alliance in an interview on the American CNBC network, the King said:  “I would be one of the first people that would endorse a Middle East NATO. But the vision of such a military alliance must be very clear, and its role should be well defined. The mission statement has to be very, very clear. Otherwise, it confuses everybody.”[1]

The King’s statements, which were understood in the media as an expression of Jordan’s willingness to join a military alliance against Iran that would include Israel, evoked many responses. Apparently sent to clarify the King’s statements, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi denied this, telling Al-Jazeera on June 28 that “there has been no discussion of a military alliance of which Israel is a part, and we have heard no such proposal to date.” The King, he explained, had expressed Jordan’s keenness to support any proposal for organized and joint Arab action to address challenges such as terror, food security and economic security.[2]  

Articles and analyses in the Jordanian press assessed that an Arab alliance will soon be formed to confront the existential threats facing the region and the world, including the threats posed by the Iran-backed militias in the region and by Israel, as well as the energy and food crises caused by the war in Ukraine and the changes in the international arena.[3]

Many other articles in the Jordanian press expressed strong opposition to Jordan’s participation in a military alliance with Israel. The authors of the articles, who included Jordanian former ministers, newspaper editors and senior journalists, stated that Jordan has no interest in joining such an alliance with Israel, which threatens Jordan’s interests in the context of the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem and is a source of trouble and concern in the region. Despite the peace agreements signed by several Arab countries with Israel, they said, the latter “was and still is the criminal enemy of the Arabs,” and no world power will compel the Arabs to form a military alliance with it until it respects the Palestinians’ rights. One of the writers, former information minister Samih Al-Ma’ayta, stated that the Jordanian establishment was well aware of the public’s opposition to ties with Israel and would therefore avoid entering into an alliance with it. He added that, although Jordan opposes Iran’s policy in the region, there is a big difference between this and preparing to start a war with it. Others wrote that, amid the food and energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, it is the economic challenges that are currently at the top of the agenda, and it is paramount to promote economic integration among the Arabs, rather than a military alliance against Iran. 

This report reviews some of these articles.

Former Jordanian Information Minister: Jordan Is Troubled By Israel’s Policy, Should Avoid A Military Alliance With It

In a June 30, 2022 article on the Ammonnews website, Former Jordanian information minister Samih Al-Ma’aita wrote: “…The King announced recently that he supports the establishment of a NATO-like alliance in the Middle East, as long as its objectives are clearly defined. Many people asked explicitly whether Israel would be part of this alliance. But the question that needs to be asked is whether it is [at all] possible to form an alliance in this region with a clear mission and comprising like-minded members [as the King said]. Some may believe that the war against Iran is an objective shared by many countries in the region, including Israel, and that a military alliance against Iran is bound to be established. But the most important question is which countries are interested in launching a war against Iran, and the answer is that nobody wants to fight Iran, not even Israel and the U.S. 

“The Gulf states’ relations with Iran range from normal to excellent. The Sultanate of Oman and Qatar have excellent relations with it; Kuwait’s relations with it are good and it handles them wisely, while Saudi Arabia speaks of neighborly relations with Iran and negotiates with it. There is a big difference between opposing Iran’s actions and preparing to launch a war against it… We in Jordan have reservations about Iran’s policy and objections to it. But is it [really part of] Jordan’s policy to enter into an alliance with Israel in order to deliver a blow to Iran?!...

 “Iran has formal relations with Israel, but these relations are very troubled from a political point of view, because Israel handles the Palestinian issue in a way that threatens Jordan’s interests, especially with respect to Jerusalem and [the establishment of] a Palestinian state. Everyone knows that the relations between Israel and Jordan have deteriorated considerably since the signing of the [peace] agreement [between them], because Jordan knows that the Jordanian masses do not welcome this relationship, and that, with every wave of Israeli aggression [against the Palestinians], this relationship becomes a [heavier] burden for this country… So does it make sense to lead this country into a regional military alliance with Israel?

“Since the announcement of Biden’s [upcoming] visit to the region…, there has been talk about a regional framework, which Israel hopes [will emerge], due to its desire to become further integrated in the region without being required to grant the Palestinians their rights. But, according to all rational political analyses, this is impossible, because there are important Arab countries that are unwilling to pay this political price…

“Jordan avoided attending [the founding conference of] the regional Negev Forum several months ago, which was attended by several Arab countries and by the U.S. and Israel. On the day [of that conference] King ‘Abdullah visited Ramallah, in order to convey that Jordan would not be part of any regional cooperation initiative that does not place Palestine at the top of its agenda…  

“Israel is the source of these ideas [of a Middle East NATO, for] it wants to become further integrated in the region and is using the common enemy, Iran, as an excuse. However, its refusal to grant the Palestinians their rights means that Israel is still a source of concern in the region.   

“The talk about a putative alliance [with Israel] will cease when Biden leaves the area, but Israel’s efforts to expand its ties [in the region] will not. As for Iran, it will continue its game of [vying for] influence with Israel, but without direct war, since a limited Iranian presence [in the region] is an American-Israeli need.”[4]  

Board Director Of Al-Dustour Daily: No Cooperation With Israel Before It Grants The Palestinians’ Rights

Muhammad Daudia, board director of the Al-Dustour daily and a former Jordanian cabinet minister, wrote in a similar vein in his column in the daily, under the headline “Mr. President Biden, We Will Not Form an Alliance with the Occupier”:

“The fact that the Ayatollah regime has managed to place itself on the list of the Arab nation’s enemies does not mean that the Israeli enemy has managed to erase itself from this black list… Whoever takes a superficial look at things may try to suggest or impose on us political solutions that are based on Israel’s excessive power and on the Arabs’ and Palestinians’ excessive weakness. But no force in the world will force us to accept Israel and cooperate with it in any alliance without insisting that [Israel respect] the rights of the Arab Palestinian people that have been recognized in UN resolutions…

“We expect the friend of our King and our country, U.S. President Joe Biden, to make a proposal that is fair, realistic and feasible and will not disregard [the fact that] the state of Israel is maintaining a barbaric occupation that has been condemned by the UN. As [our] King  said to Palestinian President [Mahmoud ‘Abbas] yesterday [i.e., on June 26]: “Jordan will do its utmost to support the Palestinian position at the Jeddah summit, and nothing is more important for this kingdom than the Palestinian cause.”[5] 

Jordanian Journalist: Israel Is A Criminal Enemy Of The Arabs; An Arab Alliance With It Is Inconceivable

Another Al-Dustour columnist, Ibrahim ‘Abd Al-Majid Al-Qaisi, likewise rejected the notion of an Arab military alliance with Israel, writing: “In politics, a state or states will sometimes act to preserve the [territorial] integrity, the stability or the security of their enemy. But this cannot happen between the Arab states and their criminal enemy,  Israel, even if a shared ally [the U.S.] has managed to get these hostile sides to form ties [and sign] a peace agreement… For all of its optimism, this shared ally [the U.S.] will never manage to gain enough influence over the Arabs to make them forget their rights, their occupied lands, and their holy sites and compel them to form an alliance with Israel in order to launch a war against Iran. There is no room for comparison between Iran and Israel, or between Iran’s aggression towards the Arabs and Israel’s aggression. For Israel is an artificial entity that relies on crimes in order to consolidate its existence, whereas Iran is a state with historic roots and with considerations and interests…

“Biden, the U.S. and their ilk are interested in Israel’s security and are willing to make concessions [regarding other matters] in order to ensure its security and stability. But this security and stability will be at the expense of the Arabs and their rights, and will involve an inconceivable disregard of the crimes committed by this occupying state against the Palestinians and against the Arabs in general. This is a blatantly immoral approach of causing the victim to defend the criminal… How can a people that is subjected to murder be mobilized to defend its murderers?...”[6]

Al-Ghad Editor: Meeting The Economic Challenges Is More Important Than A Military Alliance Against Iran

Makram Ahmad Al-Tarawneh, editor of the daily Al-Ghad, wrote on June 26 that the top priority today should be handling the economic crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, rather than forming a regional military alliance: 

“The occupation state is constantly spreading news that a regional alliance comprising [Israel] and the Arabs is forming in order to confront Iran, and that the seeds of this coalition will be planted in the [July] 16 Jeddah summit, which will be attended by the U.S. President and by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. Two years ago there was also a lot of talk about this [putative] alliance, and it was said that Jordan would be part of it… [But] since then there have been no signs that [the emergence of] such an alliance is certain or necessary, or that it is being formed…

“It’s hard to say that Jordan has an interest in joining this kind of coalition in a region that is [characterized by] economic and security instability and already suffers from conflicts, and when the focus is on achieving Arab and regional economic integration in order to meet the challenges [in the spheres of] energy and food security – especially when the world is in the worst crisis it has seen in decades. The global economic crisis is now uppermost in the considerations of all countries, while the character of the relations between them and their priorities have changed. Each of them seeks to actualize its particular interests and avoid the volcano of the war currently raging between Russia and Ukraine, which has impacted food and energy prices [all over the world]… This war has destabilized the world, and every country is facing difficulties caused by its repercussions… Wars of this kind do not end without global solidarity and cooperation to stabilize the situation, especially in poor countries that suffer the greatest harm. In light of all this, the question remains: Can Jordan place priority on opening the gates of conflict [with Iran], when this region is already unstable and when economic crises are destroying everything in it?”

 

[1] Cnbc.com, June 24, 2022.

[2] Aljazeera.net, alghad.com, June 29, 2022. On July 2, 2022 Al-Safadi made similar statements to the Lebanese channel Al-Nahar Al-Arabi (annaharar.com, July 4, 2022).

[3] Al-Rai (Jordan), June 29, 2022; Al-Ghad (Jordan), July 5, 2022.

[4] Ammonnews.net, June 30, 2022.

[5] Al-Dustour (Jordan), June 27, 2022.

[6] Al-Dustour (Jordan), June 22, 2022.

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