The Crisis In The Middle East

Jordan Crisis and its significance for the Arab Region


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Geopolitics in Arabian Peninsula

The royal household in Jordan has recently seen intense drama, with the King’s popular half-brother and former crown prince was placed under de facto house arrest.

Study the map; especially, the Israel-Jordan border and Dead Sea.

Signs of a Coup

  • Jordanian government statements have has stated that there had been an attempted coup to destabilize the country, mentioning unnamed “foreign entities” involved in the plot.
  • The events have thus put a spotlight on Jordan’s unique position as one of the most stable countries in the Arab world, and given rise to questions about who could stand to benefit from the alleged coup.

Jordan’s stability matters

  • Jordan, which this year celebrates 100 years since its creation after World War I, has for decades remained stable in a part of the world that is prone to conflict and political uncertainty.
  • For its allies in the West and in the Gulf, Jordan is a strategic partner which can be relied upon for furthering political objectives in the region, which includes war-torn Syria and Iraq as well as conflict-prone Israel and Palestine.
  • The support of Jordanian intelligence has proven critically important in the fight against terrorism.
  • Though impoverished, the country of about a crore people has served as a haven for refugees in the conflict-ridden region.

The asylum giver

  • After the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967, Jordan received waves of refugees, to the point that about half of Jordan’s population today is made up of Palestinians.
  • It has also welcomed refugees after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and currently hosts over 10 lakh from Syria, where a protracted civil war is going on.
  • Jordan is also considered important to any future peace deal between Israel and Palestine.

How does Jordan get along with regional powers?

(1) West

  • Traditionally, Jordan has maintained close relations with the US, and the fellow Sunni Muslim powers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which together stand against Shia Iran.
  • It also has diplomatic relations with Israel, and the two countries have been bound by a peace treaty since 1994.

(2) Within Gulf

  • In recent years, however, Jordan’s relations with the Saudis and UAE have seen ups and downs.
  • It has been particularly since the rise of their respective crown prince’s Mohammed bin Salman (known by initials MBS) and Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ).
  • One of the points of friction was Saudi-UAE’s blockade of Qatar in 2017.
  • It caused further consternation in Saudi and Emirati circles by maintaining strong ties with Turkey.

(3) Ties with Israel

  • Jordan’s role as the region’s interlocutor has also diminished since last year, after the UAE normalized relations with Israel.

What have the powers said of the alleged coup?

  • Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have expressed full support for King Abdullah. The US has called the ruler a “key partner”.
  • To drive home the point, Saudi Arabia sent its foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, to Jordan’s capital Amman to express complete solidarity with Jordan’s King and his government.
  • Saudi and the UAE have little to gain by destabilizing Jordan, a country that has long served as a dependable ally.

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