Gulf countries averted the worst by going to Jordan’s rescue
There was indeed a need for the mini Gulf summit hosted by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Mecca. Jordan had to be helped out of its economic crisis, which outside parties tried to exploit to bring down the regime. Jordan had to be rescued because the stability of the entire region is intimately connected to Jordan’s stability.
Going to Jordan’s aid is part of the open campaign waged by moderate Arab countries against Iran’s influence. That campaign took a new dimension after the fall of Sana’a to Houthi control in September 2014. Since then, Iran has openly used Yemen as a thorn in the side of every Gulf country, Saudi Arabia in particular.
Jordan’s disintegration is an objective that Iran shares with the Muslim Brotherhood. The latter has been trying to recoup its losses in 2011 and 2012, when the Brotherhood thought Jordan was another Arab state ripe for the picking.
The Brotherhood in Egypt was the main backer of the Muslim Brothers in Jordan. The Hashemite kingdom depended crucially on energy supplies in natural gas from Egypt via the Sinai pipeline. During the Muslim Brothers’ short-lived rule in Egypt, gas supplies were often interrupted, either intentionally or due to sabotage.
Jordan had to look for other energy sources in extremely difficult and complicated circumstances. Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood used Egyptian gas to pressure the Jordanian kingdom.
The Muslim Brotherhood had not expected Jordan to weather the “Arab spring” with as little damage as it did. This is why it recently tried to take advantage of the lull in Jordan’s relations with Gulf countries to drive a wedge between the kingdom and its traditional allies. Fortunately, the Gulf countries are aware of the challenges and risks involved in the case of Jordan within the context of Iran’s desperate efforts to bypass its crises in Syria and Iraq.
Jordan is another bulwark standing in the way of Iran’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s expansionist projects. It was thus essential that it be helped, regardless of the tensions of the past three years, especially in June 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt decided to boycott Qatar. Jordan did not fully go along with the measure and simply reduced its diplomatic representation in Qatar.
Once again, Jordan survives another dangerous crisis but the situation in the kingdom is far from normal. There is a need to redress the mistakes made during Hani Mulki’s tenure as prime minister. Despite his best intentions, Mulki and his government failed to effectively communicate to the general population the drastic economic reforms needed. They also misjudged the gravity of the challenges facing Jordan.
Rather than blame outsiders, one must admit the mistakes made by the Jordanian side. King Abdullah II must have done his best to be made aware of the difficulties facing citizens in their daily life but what was needed was better communication with the public regarding the serious risks at hand. In addition, there should have been better communication to impress on the international community Jordan’s struggles and worries, including the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in its territory.
Jordan did indeed suffer a lack of a serious public relations strategy at all levels.
At the same time, the US administration had no concern other than satisfying the wishes of Israel. While the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank was at the peak of its indecisiveness and the other Palestinian leadership in Gaza at the peak of its carelessness, the Trump administration arrogantly defied all and moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In the end, Jordan finds itself in a very uncomfortable position. Whichever Arab countries go to Jordan’s aid will, in the final analysis, be aiding itself since helping Jordan means contributing to regional stability and hampering the evil plans of Iran and the Muslim Brothers.
One last point needs to be stressed. The $2.5 billion aid package offered to Jordan by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait is not a gift, which is the right way to proceed. Quite obviously, there is a significant shift in the way the rich countries of the Gulf look at aid to other Arab countries and Jordan must adjust to this shift.
Jordan will surely be able to deal with new realities in the region and move beyond the current crisis. King Abdullah is a monarch with a good sense of future directions. He has the courage to evaluate realities as they are and identify problems correctly. He was the one who spoke frankly about the role of education and moderate Islam in countering all forms of extremist ideologies in the region.
Now that the donor countries have done their part and King Abdullah has done his by clearly siding with his subjects, it is time for a new government in Jordan capable of understanding the fateful changes coming to Syria and Iraq and to the entire region.