Ties with Iran are unlikely to improve soon — pundits

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi (Right) holds talks with his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir Abdollahian in New York last month. (Photo: Twitter)
AMMAN — Relations with Iran are unlikely to move forward in the short-term, commentators said, despite signs of a thaw in relations between the two countries.اضافة اعلان

Histrocially, Tehran has been critical of Jordan’s liberal outlook, which it labels as “pro-Western”. By the same token, Jordan has been suspicious of Iran’s dominance of Shiite-Muslim groups in the region.

In the summer, Jordan said Iranian proxies were working on its northern border with Syria, seeking to smuggle in illicit narcotics.

Nevertheless, on the fringes of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian said the Islamic Republic of Iran does not place any restrictions on developing relations with Jordan.

The comment, which was seen as an attempt to end long years of estrangement between the two countries, came during a meeting with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi.

Columnist Omar Kallab told Jordan News that he did not see a thaw in ties soon. “I do not expect that relations between Jordan and Iran are going in a positive way, despite the relative calm on the Syrian-Jordanian border on the drug issue, which Iranian militias appear to be behind,” he said.

Kallab maintained that the development of Jordanian relations with Iran is linked to the good intentions that Tehran must show in the future, “especially if security remains stable on the Syrian-Jordanian borders, and if Russia pressures it to interfere in the development of relations between the two countries”.

Following his meeting with Safadi, the Iranian foreign minister referred to the common elements in the “good and brotherly” relations with Jordan, pointing to Tehran’s desire to develop relations with countries in the region, including Gulf Arab states.

For his part, Safadi said that the Jordanian government adopts the approach of expanding relations with Islamic countries in the region, including the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Safadi also met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, whose country is a power-broker in Syria and maintains good ties with Iran. Both officials discussed the importance of activating efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis, among other hot regional topics, which included Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking.

Safadi and Lavrov’s talks discussed the challenges that Jordan faces in hosting Syrian refugees, the challenge of drug smuggling from Syria, and the necessary steps to have stability prevail in southern Syria.

The two meetings raised questions about the possibility of strengthening Iranian-Jordanian relations, especially since Russia is currently considered a strong ally of Iran, and Jordanian-Russian relations are considered balanced, which may contribute to improving Jordanian-Iranian relations.

Kallab said that Jordanian-Russian relations are “characterized by balance, unlike the Jordanian-Iranian relations, which have always been marred by tension”.

He attributed the “balanced relations” with Russia to the “balanced personal relations between His Majesty King Abdullah and the Russian president”.

Hassan Momani, professor of international relations at the University of Jordan, told Jordan News that the relationship between Jordan and Russia was characterized by mutual understanding and cooperation.

He explained that there is economic and security cooperation between the two countries, especially as Russia “served Jordan in the issue of managing the conflict in Syria, which confirms the strength of the relationship between them”.

In a strategic context, Jordan’s relations with the US remains the most important, according to Momani, especially since there is defense and security cooperation between Amman and Washington. He said that the US “greatly supports Jordan’s economy, and here we see that Jordan always seeks to balance its relationship between countries”.

As for the relationship between Jordan and Iran, he said that there has been a difference in vision and approaches for a long time, “especially since the countries with which Jordan shares common interests contradict their positions with Iran, and Jordan has reservations about the Iranian behavior in general.”

“Jordan is trying to reset the relationship with Iran at the moment, but, the relationship will remain in its undeveloped context,” he pointed out. He noted that from a pragmatic standpoint, there is “a Jordanian interest in resetting the relationship with Iran, and there is also an Iranian interest in resetting the relationship with Jordan”.

Geopolitical expert Amer Al-Sabaileh told Jordan News that “there is no fundamental change in the nature of the alliance between Jordan and the US, and Jordan’s vision in this matter”.

“Jordan, however, takes into account the sensitivity of its geographical location, taking into account the presence of Iran and Russia in Syria, and that Jordan does not wish to be an enemy to any party, therefore tries to establish a state of balance,” he explained.

“In my opinion, relations with Iran will not improve because something is missing in the foundation of the relationship,” he said.

“As for Russia, Jordan cannot establish relations with Russia that are classified within a strategic framework,” he noted.

Sabaileh explained that the relationship with Russia remains within the framework of the Jordanian conviction of the need to preserve its interests, “but in fact Jordan is a country that is within the American alliance and depends on the American military mechanism and American aid.”

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