What does Israel's war on Gaza mean for Jordan?

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The impact and ramifications of Israel's catastrophic attack on Gaza are enormous and beyond imagination. Israel's colonial activities extend throughout historic Palestine, including Al-Aqsa and beyond. And if there is one party, aside from the Palestinians, where the consequences of such a confrontation will be felt the most, it is unquestionably Jordan. اضافة اعلان

Geographic closeness, along with strong political and cultural participation in the Palestinian cause, leaves Jordan vulnerable to the detrimental impact of the ongoing fighting in Gaza as well as the ramifications of the Palestinian-Israeli war as a whole. Jordanians and Palestinians have vast and profound political, social, and cultural ties, making their fates nearly identical. Furthermore, the complicated nature of Palestinian-Israeli relations means that their geopolitical ramifications are far-reaching and unpleasant for everyone involved.

Numerous prominent players, including major global and regional powers, are involved in this century-long struggle and, by extension, in the growth of Jordan's complicated relationship with Palestine. Many of these stakeholders have attempted to influence and guide this connection in a specific direction and manner that would fit their own objectives. Regardless of how external parties attempt to affect the Jordanian-Palestinian relationship, two truths are known and have remained consistent. Firstly, attempts to completely separate the two entities have consistently failed. Secondly, Jordan, in particular, cannot completely insulate itself from the ongoing conflict in and over Palestine and its implications. These two facts speak volumes, and they significantly impact the people on both banks of the Jordan River. Practically everyone in Jordan is feeling the effects of Israel's genocidal, barbaric war on Gaza and the Palestinian people throughout historic Palestine. That is why the country's leadership is caught between a rock and a hard place, whether by decision or circumstance.

“Jordanians and Palestinians have vast and profound political, social, and cultural ties, making their fates nearly identical.”

Jordan’s relations with Hamas and Israel are incredibly complex and loaded with both threats and opportunities. And the nature of such relationships makes maintaining them a challenging endeavor. Jordan’s stride, in one way, quickly elicits unfavorable reactions from the opposing side, notwithstanding the lack of symmetry. In theory, Jordan has sought a stable and mutually beneficial relationship with Israel at the cost of public support. However, the latter rarely responds. Its answer to Jordan's many friendly initiatives is either indifference, desire for more, threats, or all of the above. Israeli officials do not attempt to conceal their covetous aspirations on Jordanian territory, and Israeli spokespersons never hesitate to embarrass the Jordanian administration whenever the opportunity arises. Naturally, Jordanians find Israelis' aggressive behavior irritating and humiliating, especially when their government fails to respond adequately to the Israeli side's dominating attitude.

In the case of Hamas, the situation is reversed. According to its leaders, the resistance movement has no ill intent toward Jordan. However, the Jordanian government sees the movement as a possible security burden, at least under certain conditions.

In exchange, Jordanians hold a completely different posture than their government regarding both Hamas and Israel. While Jordanians regard Israel as an existential threat, their perception of Hamas ranges from a natural ally to a private nuisance, politically.

This complex and confusing political situation involving these two enemies should be evaluated from the perspective of history and politics, which are constantly changing. Jordan's government may lose favor with both actors if it continues on its current path of seeing Israel as a friendly neighbor while viewing Hamas as a security threat and refusing to recognize it. To many Jordanians, this position appears unusual. Two antagonists, one of whom is said to have profound social, cultural, and moral ties to the Jordanian people, are engaged in a heroic struggle against an occupying power, the other of which is deemed an existential threat by the Jordanians.

Jordan's leadership must understand that there is no permanent friend or adversary, only permanent interests. And now the issue arises: where do Jordan's best interests lie? To address this question, a few critical aspects should be considered.

The first is to consider the regional and worldwide political landscapes. No country's national interests are immune to external influences. Global and regional imperatives continue to shape governments' behavior and influence their decisions, particularly in small and middle-sized states like Jordan. Second, is making decisions that determine a country's national interests. Such processes in a democratic country differ significantly from those under a centralized or absolute monarchy.

In the first case, a pluralistic approach is typically used, in which a variety of societal centers of power participate in the formulation of the nation's national interests, resulting in societal priorities taking precedence in leadership's political choices, whereas in the second case, the interests of the ruling elite or the absolute monarch usually reign supreme. Third, and less effective, is the country's foreign policy. Small and middle-sized states are more likely to form political alliances, if not entanglements, with significant powers. Such relationships may become burdensome for the leaders of such regimes, who can forego obligations to a senior ally only at a crucial political cost, sometimes even at the risk of life.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza, combined with the evolving global balance of power, has substantially altered the game's regional and international rules. Hamas has taken on an entirely new form. Similarly, the globe is witnessing a new global order morphing into multipolar one. And Israel is revealed to be increasingly weak and lawless. Furthermore, October 7 exposed how much the US and other Western powers support Israel's existence, as well as its political and military supremacy in the area.

Regarding Hamas' attitude against Israel, the Jordanian state had previously seen it as a political liability, prompting the expulsion of several notable Jordanians due to their affiliation with the organization's senior leadership. Both issues, Hamas' Islamic doctrine and its armed resistance to Israel, have sparked severe complaints from both Israel and the US government. Jordan's dealings with Hamas are highly sensitive due to its long-standing peace pact with Israel and strategic partnership with the US.

“ Israeli officials do not attempt to conceal their covetous aspirations on Jordanian territory, and Israeli spokespersons never hesitate to embarrass the Jordanian administration whenever the opportunity arises.”

However, due to changes in the political landscape, both regionally and worldwide, these concerns and others related to them should be examined and evaluated through an entirely new lens. Hamas' main base is currently located in Gaza. Its leadership and actions are wholly established and oriented against the occupying authority and its allies. Since its inception, Hamas has not taken any steps that could be interpreted as a desire to export or crusade for an Islamic or militant agenda outside of ancient Palestine, nor has it engaged in any militant actions against any state other than Israel. And, for the time being, it has little interest, or even motivation, in instigating or launching confrontation with anyone other than its principal rival, Israel. This is a highly essential piece of information as it demonstrates that Hamas is not an ideological organization in and of itself but rather a resistance group with an Islamic orientation that emphasizes the jihad factor, regardless of its membership's religious affiliation. In actuality, the organization's existence stems from Israel's prolonged occupation of Palestine, its illegal and harsh treatment of Palestinians, and the Judaization of Islamic sites, particularly Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Simultaneously, Israel's threats to Jordan have shifted from intermittent and disguised to brazenly evident. Israeli leaders are no longer hiding their covetous ambitions against Jordanian sovereignty and territory. Israeli authorities, both current and former, have publicly exhibited a hostile attitude. Despite Israel's dangers to Jordan's territorial integrity and political independence, other threats are also more severe and real. They are the result of both ongoing attempts to expel Palestinians from their homeland and purposeful and open actions and plans aimed at completely eradicating Palestinian national existence. Alternatively, they risk losing their national identity in their own country. Such an illegal and aggressive route poses a more significant threat and anxiety to Jordan's people and administration.

“Since its inception, Hamas has not taken any steps that could be interpreted as a desire to export or crusade for an Islamic or militant agenda outside of ancient Palestine, nor has it engaged in any militant actions against any state other than Israel.”

Regarding the suggestion that Hamas could be regarded as a potential security risk to the Jordanian regime, there has been no valid evidence to support such a claim in the past, let alone now that the movement is facing severe challenges and difficulties. The current war with Israel will most likely cause enough trouble in the territory of Palestine for any serious Palestinian institution or group to seek outside enemies.

The Israeli threats against Hamas and the whole Palestinian resistance organization, as well as other targets in the region, are enough to keep not only Palestinians, but all Arabs engaged for centuries.

Regarding Jordan-US relations, the Kingdom should reassess such a relationship to set it on a more balanced and steady path. What is commonly referred to as a strategic partnership between the two states could be anything other than a strategic partnership in the eyes of most Jordanians. However, a comprehensive investigation of this link is not possible in this brief paper. However, this much-talked-about camaraderie survives mainly at the official and, to a lesser extent, academic levels in both countries. The warmth that typically characterizes these ties cannot be sensed at the public level. On the contrary, most Jordanians do not share their leaders' enthusiasm for such a strong relationship with the US.

Run deep and high among regular Jordanians. While a small number of people in Jordan's political and economic strata perceive the relationship with the US as a comfy cushion, many others see it as a cage. Widespread hatred of the more than half-century-long affair between Amman and Washington stems from various issues. However, the most significant difficulties in this ostensibly long and stable relationship between the Hashemite family and Western powers, particularly the US, stem from circumstances outside the scope of Jordan-US relations.

While successive US administrations have provided Jordan with what the US considers generous financial assistance and credible political support, many Jordanians believe that Washington's global and regional policies would be more detrimental to Jordan in the long run. Furthermore, Jordanians, both officials and the general public, should discard the mentality of a beneficiary-benevolent relationship that pervades their contacts with the US. The political benefits of the US' relationship with Jordan greatly outweigh its allegedly extensive financial and political support for the latter. However, this cost-benefit analysis for the two partners must provide the complete picture. Contrary to how this relationship is viewed publicly in Amman, two significant issues have led many in the country to see a partnership with the US as more of a cage than a cushion for Jordan.

“there is broad hostility between the West, and the US in particular, toward Islam and the Arab world, a belief so widespread among Arabs that no amount of financial contributions, successful diplomacy, or innovative public relations operations could change it.”

Full US favoritism in favor of Israel renders US support for Jordan hollow, if not counterproductive. The US is determined to maintain Israel's political and military dominance in the Middle East. Given Israel's expansionist and aggressive actions, such a US posture ultimately has negative ramifications for Jordan in more than one way.

Furthermore, this encompassing connection will likely decrease Amman's margin of maneuverability, if not constraining its freedom of action, when Jordan's critical national interests require it to deviate from the US-defined course of action. A minor and dependent state can only break away from a powerful benefactor at its own cost. Furthermore, this intricate relationship has two structural disadvantages for tiny states. One is developing a false sense of security for the junior partners, while the other results in a state of dependence on the patron.

Second, there is broad hostility between the West, and the US in particular, toward Islam and the Arab world, a belief so widespread among Arabs that no amount of financial contributions, successful diplomacy, or innovative public relations operations could change it. And if there were any residual concerns regarding such prejudice toward Israel on the one hand and hostility toward Islam and the Arab country on the other, the US and Western nations' respective stances on the eve of October 7 have put an end to it.

For these reasons, Washington has failed to capture the hearts and minds of ordinary Jordanians. In a nutshell, the majority of Jordanians, like the majority of Arabs, feel that the West, in general, and the US, in particular, are the source of the bulk of their anguish and problems, including internal political difficulties. Right or wrong, such a perception has become widely held in Jordan.

Naturally, such a negative attitude among most Jordanians does not bode well for an effective and stable relationship between the leadership and the people.

So, it is evident what the geopolitical plan will look like in the next 20–30 years. The most significant challenges to both Jordan and Palestinians will primarily come from Israel, in one form or another. Of course, the US has no obligation to help a weak friend who is in danger from a stronger one! One cannot assume that it is in the US' interest to resist such Israeli self-aggrandizement in a strategically soft Arab environment where other regional countries may be fighting for the same thing. The Jordanians and Palestinians will bear the brunt of the Western-Israeli onslaught politically, militarily, and economically.

Anyway, it remains troublesome if militant Israel gains the upper hand in the current war in Gaza. If Hamas and the Palestinian resistance movement are defeated throughout historic Palestine, Jordan will most likely be the next target of extreme right-wing Israeli zealots; nothing short of a strong, united Jordan and a practical Jordanian-Palestinian resistance front would be a credible force to deter belligerent Israel from attempting to test Jordan's steadfastness. Jordanian and Palestinian authorities should prioritize establishing such a strong front.

Good intentions and peaceful tendencies would be ineffective in dealing with a dominant Israel. Hungry predators will not entertain gentle requests for coexistence from weak creatures in the vast jungle that the earth has recently become. Those who believe the US will rush to their aid should keep in mind that safeguarding Jordan from other irredentist regional countries is one thing, but protecting it from Israel is quite another. All Arab nations should immediately consider a robust regional and international coalition-building strategy.

As a result, the actual and first realistic step in a much-needed unified Arab collective self-defense strategy is not to abandon more Palestinian resistance movements to face Israel's deadly war machine, but to be aware of the negative ramifications of allowing Israel to rule over Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian territories. Of course, the Palestinian leaders should be at the forefront of this effort, facing this awful crisis together. The first step for the leaderships of all Palestinian parties should be to abandon their current stance of reacting to what Israel and Western powers would dangle in front of them through the US Foreign Secretary, Antony Blinken, i.e. another bitter bait in the way of the imaginary process of the promised 'Palestinian state' that will be devoid of any state tributes! Arab and Palestinian leaders should look Blinken in the eyes and tell him that Gaza and its resistance are not a bargaining tool.

Hamas and the Palestinian resistance remain strong, and their compelling military performance should not be negotiable or a fallback position for Arab diplomacy in the ongoing conversations amongst Arab interlocutors.

Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Jordan News' point of view.

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