Jordan dissolves Muslim Brotherhood, moves closer to Saudi-UAE camp

Amman fears that Iran and Turkey will strike at its internal stability through the existing alliance between Hamas and Jordan’s Brotherhood.

Friday 17/07/2020
Jordanian King Abdullah II (C) chairs a meeting with officials in the capital Amman, March 16. (AFP)
Jordanian King Abdullah II (C) chairs a meeting with officials in the capital Amman, March 16. (AFP)

AMMAN – The court’s ruling to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was a clear message to the Islamist organisation inside the kingdom that no one is above the law, and to the countries in the region that the Kingdom of Jordan decides its foreign relations according to its own interests, and that, right now, its interest is to be in the camp of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Hashemite Kingdom is in urgent need of financial aid to deal with its economic crisis which was worsened by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism in the country.

On Wednesday, the Jordanian Court of Cassation ruled that the Muslim Brotherhood “is dissolved by law and no longer has a legal status, for failing to correct its status to be in compliance with Jordanian laws.”

Although the Jordanian authorities insist that the kingdom’s judiciary is independent, it is clear that the court’s ruling has a political dimension. For some time now, the kingdom wavered about joining the Qatar-Turkey axis, but with this decision, it has sent a clear message that it has made up its mind and will not join the said axis.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was hoping that the existence of channels of communication between Jordan, Qatar and Turkey would exempt it from fulfilling the legal step it was required to take for some time now. Jordanian sources, however, insisted on the fact that the Hashemite Kingdom has always separated economic and commercial interests from sovereign decisions. So, the limited economic cooperation with Turkey and Qatar could not force Amman to be part of an alliance that stokes crises in the region and which is evolving towards political isolation.

The sources explained that the Hashemite Kingdom has always been closer to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in its foreign policy choices, keeping a steady course politically and economically within the axis of Arab moderation. In its economic dealings, the kingdom has always enjoyed and still does enjoy support in various forms. In the 2017 crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours, Jordan decided to scale down its diplomatic representation in Qatar, thus confirming its support for the boycotting quartet against Doha’s policies.

They pointed out that the subsequent resumption of full diplomatic relations with Doha came within the context of Amman’s efforts to diversify its sources of financing for a way out of its economic crisis and could not seriously be taken as siding with a trouble-making alliance.

With time, Amman found out that Qatari promises of financial aid were nothing but political biddings to raise the ante on serious promises made by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In June 2018, the Qatari authorities pledged to provide 10,000 jobs in Qatar to Jordanian nationals, and to invest $ 500 million in infrastructure and tourism projects in Jordan. Furthermore, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, pledged during his recent visit to Amman to provide 10 thousand additional job opportunities for Jordanians and gave orders to gift $ 30 million to the Jordanian Military Retirement Fund. None of these promises was fulfilled.

It has become clear to the Jordanian street that Qatar’s primary aim was to confuse Jordan’s relationship with its Arab neighbours and friends, especially the Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia, which, unlike Doha, continues to support Amman away from the media spotlight.

On the local level, Arab political sources considered that the ruling of the Jordanian Court of Cassation to ban the Muslim Brotherhood indicates the extent of the official caution in Amman towards the group. It is well-known that the brotherhood has deep roots in the kingdom, particularly among Jordanians of Palestinian origin.

Sources indicated that what the Jordanian authorities fear most these days is the Brotherhood’s return to fomenting public unrest by taking advantage of the current tough living conditions crisis on the one hand and of the developments in the region on the other, especially in light of Turkey’s growing meddling in the region.

A Jordanian source described the decision of the court, which is based on legal grounds, as a clear message to the Muslim Brotherhood in the kingdom, telling them that they are not above the law, having long taken advantage of the fact that they were the only party with a strong popular base in Jordan.

The Hashemite royal family has always dealt with the Muslim Brothers with caution, accepting or rejecting them depending on the times and events. It has considered them as a “Palestinian” political current in Jordan, but the Brotherhood has in fact managed to make real breakthroughs in Jordanian society.

The source pointed to the close ties between the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and the Iran and Turkey-backed Hamas Movement in the Gaza Strip.

In this regard, it explained that Jordan, which rejects any interference in its internal affairs, fears that Iran and Turkey will exploit the regional situation in order to strike at its internal stability through the existing alliance between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

The Jordanian judicial authorities decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood, which together with its political arm, the Islamic Action Front Party, constitute the main opposition in the country, “for not having corrected its legal status.”

The Jordanian authorities consider the group to be illegal because it did not obtain a new license under the new law on parties and associations enacted in 2014.

“This verdict is not final, and our legal team is assembled in order to provide the legal documents for appeal,” said the Brotherhood spokesperson, Muadh Al-Khawaldeh.

Two Muslim Brotherhood currents have emerged in Jordan, one in the opposition and the other close to the government. The Jordanian authorities tried to distinguish between them, but Qatar and Turkey rushed to intervene in an effort to “bridge the rift” between the two currents. The Brotherhood is dealing with its current “crisis” as a mere court case that can easily be settled, and not as a threat to its very existence in Jordan.