Jordan-Qatar relations revisited

Jawad Anani
Jawad Anani (Photo: JNews)
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani called His Majesty KingAbdullah twice in the last week. The emir left no warm words unsaid in order to express his support for Jordan. His country, Qatar, had already survived an almost three-year boycott from its neighbors in the Gulf and Egypt. Yet, he managed to neutralize its effects on the Qatari economy without retaliating with similar measures.اضافة اعلان

He did not stop sending gas to the UAE, he kept Egyptian laborers in Qatar, and he did not deny his airspace to the airplanes coming from the boycotting countries.

When Jordan played its clever balancing act, which necessitated demoting its relations with Qatar, their officials responded with a gentle query. A top Qatari official asked me which is more important to you Qatar or Bahrain? Why does not King Abdullah pay us a visit like he does to Bahrain?

I reminded my friend that to us the question is not about choosing Bahrain over Qatar. The kingdom of Bahrain is more vulnerable to Iran-related problems in the Arabian Peninsula. Last, but not least, the question could be rephrased to read: Which is more important to Jordan — Qatar on one side or Qatar and the UAE?

Now that relations among Arab Gulf states with Qatar have been normalized as a consequence of the reconciliation effort by Salman Ibn Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, Jordan can take a sigh of relief.

No Jordanian who remembers the events of 1990-1991 would ever erase them from ones’ memory. As a result of our reconciliatory position after the occupation of the Kuwait by Iraq, the Late King Hussein exerted momentous efforts to put matters ex-post. Yet all parties directly involved in the conflict were not in the mood to adhere to but one rule: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.”

Once Kuwait intellectuals realized how much destruction and danger the deterioration of Iraq had brought, they saw in retrospect the wisdom of the Late King Hussein. Kuwait now follows a prudent policy of reconciliation, and they are taking a forward-looking view of things. They believe in hedging more than in reacting. We in Jordan love Kuwaitis despite the fact that more than 300,000 Jordanians returned to Jordan as a result of the Gulf War, and predominantly from Kuwait.

The UAE and and the Bahrain were quick to pre-normalize with Israel. Jordan, which is very keen on resolving Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of a two state solution as described in the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, was not pleased with that premature normalization with Israel. Awarding Netanyahu, who is the main culprit responsible for stalling peace negotiations and who targets Jordan, is not something that Jordanians would appreciate.

Qatar has revealed its mettle by toning down its media handling of other Gulf state news. It has also refrained from normalizing with Israel and kept its support for Jordan.

Both Jordan and Qatar should put their relations on the fast track. Their relations can work in tandem with other Gulf states and both have excellent relations with the US administration and Congress. The twining of these relations create added value needed for the challenges ahead.

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