Why does Jordan approach Iraq, shun Syria?

Maher Abu Tair (Photo: JNews)
Jordan is enhancing its ties with Iraq and at the same time avoids Syria despite the fact that Iran is present in both countries, and both areas are of influence in the Arab Mashriq.  اضافة اعلان

The equation demands attention. Why is Amman able to enhance relations with Baghdad, despite all the complexities in Iraq, and why does it avoid Damascus at the political and economic levels? 

On the surface, the analysis considering the Iranian angle seems convincing but not sufficient by itself. There are factors that go beyond Iran — some are local, at the Jordanian level, and others are regional and international, which points to Iran not being the sole factor to relations. 

His Majesty King Abdullah was scheduled to visit Baghdad last week to hold a new meeting with the Egyptian president and the Iraqi prime minister. The Baghdad summit would have been the fourth, after holding three in Egypt, Jordan, and the UN. The fourth summit was postponed due to the Suez Canal issue and other circumstances.

The prime ministers of Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq held a summit in Baghdad on Monday, which went over ties and preparations for another summit that is scheduled to be held next week, or the week after, depending on circumstances. 

The Iraqi premier has suggested establishing a new Mashriq, comprising the three countries. The question is whether this project targets Iran and a reduction of its influence in Iraq, and why does no Arab country, at the same time, seek to apply the same scenario with Damascus?

Jordan’s ability to approach Iraq can be explained through several factors, compared to the situation with Syria, despite the importance of relations with Damascus at the political and economic levels which face US and Israeli resistance. On the other hand, developing Jordanian ties with Iraq does not face the same resistance, which means that attempts to reduce Iranian influence in Iraq can be successful, especially since Baghdad is approaching Riyadh and other Arab capitals.

Meanwhile, analyses of the Syrian situation show that the Syrian coalition of Tehran, Moscow, and Hezbollah cannot be dismantled and reinstalled, which makes focusing on Iraq more understandable.

The trilateral relations of Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt concentrate on economic integration and avoiding political differences, yet all are aware that there are overlaps at the political and economic levels. Iran is watching all these changes in Iraq and seems satisfied with them in light of a wider reading of regional priorities, and Tehran is fully aware of its ability to destroy any Iraqi-Arab rapprochement. 

That being said, Jordan’s approach to Iraq rather than Syria means that Iran is a main factor from two contradicting points of view. Regarding Iraq, there are attempts to restore the country into an Arab incubator, while in Syria, Iranians and Syrians are facing pressures due to their alliance and the presence of Russians, in addition to the Israeli factor of neighboring Syria and Lebanon. 

It is a complicated situation that cannot be read based only on the Iranian presence in Iraq or Syria, the latter of which is still suffering from war and faces an international stance against its regime.