Author Topic: Jordan:  (Read 22159 times)

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Jordan:
« Reply #102 on: December 02, 2019, 02:56:49 PM »
In response to my asking for his assessment of this, an Isreali friend of left-center orientation and serious IDF intel experience comments:

"Relationship between the two countries as at an all time low (since the peace agreement).

"We recently had to give back 2 small areas which were rented to us for a limited time. While agreed upon in the peace agreement, people in Israel were quite angry about this.

"Considering Bibi's legal situation, and the very real thought that he would start a war, any war, to protect his seat, I can see the concern in Jordan. The two plots of land could potentially be used as excuse. It's also important to mention that Bibi did nothing to prevent this, even though he could have negotiated the issue before hand with the king. As always, Bibi creates conflict that he then claims he is the only one who could solve. This just might be a drawer plan for such times.
This is the extreme, yet every possible scenario. The other option is historical. They might have been doing this exercise every year and never bothered to rename it.

"But considering our volatile situation, I would look past my first option.

"In all honesty, things are very complicated around here at the moment, even for very politically aware people like myself. I am afraid to say that the very existence of Israel as a democracy is at stake right now."


Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Trump's plan risks pushing Jordan away
« Reply #104 on: January 30, 2020, 07:33:06 AM »
Trump's Pro-Israel Peace Plan Risks Pushing Jordan Away
Ryan Bohl
Ryan Bohl
Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor
8 MINS READ
Jan 30, 2020 | 11:00 GMT

An image of the Jordanian flag. Jordan's dependence on U.S. aid will constrain its ability to respond to Israeli actions in the West Bank. But it's only a matter of time until Washington's regional strategy forces Jordan to diversify its foreign ties.

(Shutterstock)
HIGHLIGHTS
The U.S. Middle East peace plan has emboldened Israel's nationalist push to expand its control of the West Bank, which includes annexing the Jordan River Valley.
Jordan will take symbolic acts of retaliation against Israeli annexations to appease the kingdom's own growing nationalist demands for an independent Palestinian state. 
Such provocations against Israel will tempt the United States to use its considerable economic and military leverage to force Jordan to support its peace plan.
But in the long term, Jordan's increasingly divergent views on Washington's regional strategy will drive the kingdom to seek out new ties with other nations, such as the United Kingdom and Russia.
By placing Israel's strategic goals first, the United States has placed its other ally Jordan in a tight spot. Washington's newly unveiled Middle East peace plan strongly indicates that the Palestinian state envisioned by many Jordanians will not come to fruition. Fears of backlash at home will compel Jordan to rebuke Israeli annexations in the West Bank. Though in doing so, Jordan will have to tread lightly, given the United States' track record of strong-arming allies to support its foreign policy goals.

With billions of dollars worth of U.S. exports, financial aid and military support on the line, Jordan's actions against Israel will likely remain more symbolic. But even if Jordan is able to evade U.S. retaliation, the new peace plan has made it clear that empowering Israel as much as possible is now one of Washington's major priorities. And this reality will ultimately drive Jordan to follow the footsteps of other U.S. allies, such as Turkey and Qatar, who have begun diversifying their foreign ties to break free of a U.S. regional policy they feel no longer prioritizes their concerns.

The Big Picture
The United States and Jordan are close regional allies, but Washington's unilateralism in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is drawing criticism from Jordan. As Jordan considers its own counters to imminent further Israeli annexations in the West Bank, its most potent response will be to embark on a search for new allies that can help offset the country’s dependence on the United States.

See Rebalancing Power in the Middle East
Nationalist Movements at Odds
As outlined by the two countries' landmark 1994 peace treaty, the Jordan-Israeli relationship is underpinned by a mutual desire to avoid conflict, maintain friendly ties with the United States and build trade ties between one another. But Jordan and Israel's relations have been slowly declining in recent years under the weight of contradictory political forces in each country. In Israel, a growing nationalist movement has pushed for expanded control of the West Bank, including the annexation of the Jordan River Valley. These nationalists are increasingly a swing vote, which has made their interests heavily courted by Israel's top contenders for power in the country's recurrent elections. Indeed, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival, Benny Gantz, have now promised to annex the Jordan River Valley to strengthen their hand ahead of Israel’s third national election in less than a year on March 2.

A map showing the White House peace plan's proposed Israeli-Palestinian territories.
Israeli control of the valley, however, would make any future Palestinian state entirely dependent on Israel for trade and border security, undercutting its sovereignty. Further annexations of territory within the West Bank would also complicate the free movement of goods and people throughout a Palestinian state and make it virtually indefensible from Israeli incursions.

And in Jordan, this prospect is deeply unpopular among ordinary citizens — and in particular, the country's strong Palestinian and Arab nationalist political base, which wants to see the West Bank eventually turned into an independent state. These nationalists are hostile to Israeli policies that make these aspirations less likely, and typically expect the country's monarchy to champion their cause. And with Jordan’s economy undergoing a challenging transition, the support of these nationalists has become all the more important for the monarchy's legitimacy than in previous years.

Jordan's Political Plight
The potential annexation of the Jordan Valley — combined with the promise of the new U.S. peace plan — has, in turn, placed Jordan's leaders in a difficult position. On one hand, the kingdom wants to maintain ties with Israel for pragmatic security, economic and diplomatic reasons. But at the same time, it must also ensure Arab nationalist pushback inside Jordan does not reach a level where it could threaten the stability or legitimacy of the monarchy. Within this context, Jordan will likely pursue a calculated Israel policy designed to show its displeasure with Israeli annexation, while still remaining far away from upending the two countries' 1994 peace treaty.

Specifically, Jordan may choose to further downgrade its relations with Israel through an array of symbolic diplomatic and economic maneuvers. This could include expelling the Israeli ambassador (Jordan already withdrew its ambassador to Israel over the arrest of two Jordanians in 2019); lodging further diplomatic protests with the Arab League and United Nations on behalf of the Palestinians; tightening border crossings to slow trade and interfere with tourism (a key consideration for Israel, which prizes access to Christian holy sites controlled by Jordan as part of its tourism industry); escalating its anti-Israel rhetoric in public; or renewing public displays of hostility to Israel (such as running war games that are implicitly aimed at the country). But any action Jordan decides to take will come up against a very close U.S.-Israeli alliance — one in which both President Donald Trump and Netanyahu see strong domestic political value in defending many of each other's policies.

Facing Washington's Wrath
Should Jordan take action to downgrade its ties with Israel, the United States will consider its own response, raising the risk that U.S. officials decide to take a stronger stance than Jordan is prepared or able to withstand. The United States has already established a consistent pattern of leveraging its substantial economic and aid to bring allies in line with U.S. goals. The Palestinian Authority, for one, has recently seen its roughly $4 billion of U.S. foreign aid frozen in a bid to force its support of Washington's new peace plan (though so far unsuccessfully). And late last year, the United States also froze security aid to Lebanon, as well as imposed unprecedented sanctions on some Lebanese banks, as it debated how to pressure Iranian-allied Hezbollah forces in the country.

For now, Jordan's dependence on U.S. aid will constrain its ability to retaliate against Israeli annexations in the West Bank. But it's only a matter of time until the kingdom is forced to find new friends.

When it comes to Jordan, the United States has multiple economic levers at its disposal to retaliate against Amman's provocations against Israel. In 2017, the United States sent some $1.3 billion in bilateral assistance to Jordan, as well as another $1.1 billion to help Jordan manage the economic onus of its large Syrian refugee population. This aid could be suspended, delayed or even canceled to pressure Amman to change its position. The United States has also helped Jordan gain access to loans as recently as 2013-14. And as Jordan restructures its own economy to improve employment and cut down on state spending to reduce its economic risks, such aid may be needed again, giving the United States an opening where it could again pinch Jordan’s economy.

Jordan's crucial trade ties with the United States may also be at stake, should the White House decide to ramp up pressure. Washington could slap Jordan with higher U.S. tariffs, or may even threaten to pull out of the two countries' free trade agreement signed in 2000. Such trade salvos would hit Jordanian exports hard, as the United States accounts for some 22 percent of the country's goods. Being iced out from the massive U.S. clothing market would take a considerable toll on Jordan's large textile industry, in particular.

In addition to economic threats, the United States could also weaponize Jordan's reliance on many different aspects of U.S. military support. Specifically, Washington can interrupt or change Jordan's military aid, which has totaled about $1 billion since 2015 (accounting for roughly 40 percent of Jordan's 2015 military budget). It could also delay, deny or change the military training, weapons and defense equipment support Jordan's armed forces receive under the U.S. Foreign Military Financing program. Jordan is also a key intelligence and military partner and hosts a number of U.S. forces as part of the counterterrorism fight against the Islamic State. But such cooperation may also be at risk if the United States decides it needs to get Jordan in line with its Israel policy.

The Hunt for a Plan B
The United States remains interested in keeping Jordan as a strong regional partner. But domestic political considerations — especially with a presidential election in November — will tempt the White House to retaliate, should Jordan's actions against Israel appear too strong. But even if Jordan's actions against Israel don't prompt U.S. retaliation, the predicament in which Jordan has been placed has nonetheless illuminated just how dependent Jordan is on Washington for so much of both its economic and physical security. In the long term, this reality will spur Amman to consider diversifying its defense and economic ties to ensure it's less vulnerable to such U.S. pressure tactics in the future.

The former British territory will look to its former mandate holder, the United Kingdom, as well as Russia and the Gulf Arab states, to find back-ups to U.S. aid in case Washington decides Jordanian stability is not as paramount as it was in the past. Such reinforcements will not replace Jordan's massive levels of U.S. support anytime soon. It will, however, compel Amman to join Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on the growing list of U.S. regional allies who are searching for new economic and military partners to build up their independence.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Jordan:
« Reply #106 on: March 22, 2020, 01:31:07 PM »
The blonde seems really stupid to me (what does she think would happen to Israel if the Palestinian population were to take power?!?)  but the larger question about the Hashemites on top of a majority Palestinian state remains:

https://israelunwired.com/jordan-is-the-real-palestinian-state/ 

Crafty_Dog

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Glick: King Abdullah's Empty Threats
« Reply #107 on: May 19, 2020, 11:57:56 AM »
https://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/king-abdullahs-empty-threats/

King Abdullah's empty threats
Abdullah will not cancel his kingdom's peace deal with Israel because the peace treaty guarantees the survival of his regime.
 By  Caroline B. Glick  Published on  05-19-2020 09:27 Last modified: 05-19-2020 09:27
Should Jordan's King Abdullah have veto power over Israel's plan to apply its sovereign laws to its cities, towns and villages in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley, in accordance with the Trump peace plan? Monday morning, senior leaders of the Blue and White party began making noises to that effect.

 Follow Israel Hayom on Facebook and Twitter

In an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel last Friday, King Abdullah threatened, "If Israel really annexes the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan."

News updates Monday morning reported that "senior officials" from Blue and White were working to condition Israel's implementation of the sovereignty plan on securing prior approval from Jordan.

Later Monday morning, during the ceremony at the Foreign Ministry marking the arrival of incoming Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazy, Ashkenazy said that Israel will implement the Trump peace plan "in dialogue with our neighbors, [and while] preserving of the peace treaties and the State of Israel's strategic interests."

Taken together with the morning news updates, Ashkenazy's remarks raised the prospect that he and his partner, Defense Minister and alternative prime minister Benny Gantz see Abdullah's threat as a justification for abandoning their support for the sovereignty plan. It bears recalling that during the negotiations leading up to the formation of the unity government between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud and Gantz and Blue and White, Netanyahu made Blue and White's support for the sovereignty plan his only substantive condition for signing the deal.

Abdullah, of course, will never approve the sovereignty plan. So giving him a veto means shelving the plan. This raises the question of whether there is any reason to give the head of the Hashemite clan that sort of power? Can he cause Israel harm so grave that it should abandon the sovereignty plan to appease him?

The Der Spiegel reporters asked Abdullah if he would suspend Jordan's peace treaty with Israel in retaliation for an Israeli decision to apply its sovereignty to the areas.

He responded, "I don't want to make threats and create a loggerheads atmosphere, but we are considering all options."

In plain English, that means that he is absolutely not considering suspending the peace deal. He's bloviating. And he has good reason to both keep the peace deal and to bloviate.

Abdullah will not cancel his kingdom's peace deal with Israel because the peace treaty guarantees the survival of his regime. Israel provides Jordan with an economic lifeline by supplying Jordan with water and gas. The US, for its part, protects and sustains Abdullah and his kingdom by stationing US forces in the kingdom and by providing Jordan with $1.8 billion in economic assistance annually.

If Jordan abrogated the peace deal, Israeli water and gas transfers would obviously cease. And since Israel's sovereignty plan will be undertaken in the framework of the US peace plan, it is hard to imagine that US support for the kingdom would be unchanged in the event that Jordan abrogated its peace deal in retaliation for Israel's move.

All this is not to say that Israel's relations with Jordan are stable. Anti-Semitism is almost universal in Jordan. And support for the peace with Israel is non-existent. The Hashemite monarchy itself is deeply unpopular.

It is possible that one day, with his back to the wall, Abdullah will abrogate the treaty. It is equally possible that one day he will be overthrown and that the successor regime will abrogate the peace treaty with Israel.

Facing this state of affairs, Israel's proper response is not to set aside the sovereignty plan, which among other things, secures Israel's long border with Jordan by applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley. The proper response to Jordan's enormous hostility – a state of affairs that existed long before the sovereignty plan and the Trump plan were conceived – is to draw up detailed contingency plans for the day after the Hashemites are overthrown or the peace treaty is abrogated.

In his remarks at the Foreign Ministry, Ashkenazy rightly praised US-Israel relations. "The United States is Israel's closest ally and the State of Israel's most important friend," he said.

During his visit with President Donald Trump in the White House in January, according to a senior American official, Gantz committed himself to implementing the Trump peace plan, including the sovereignty plan.

To preserve US-Israel relations, Ashkenazy and Gantz need to uphold that commitment. Failure to do so is liable to undermine Israel's credibility as a stable ally among administration leaders and other friends of Israel in Washington.

Ashkenazy acknowledged that through his peace plan, President Trump, "presents us with a historic opportunity to shape Israel's future and its borders."

Israel mustn't permit King Abdullah, and his empty threats stand in its way to seizing that opportunity now.



Crafty_Dog

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Jordan bans Muslim Brotherhood
« Reply #110 on: July 21, 2020, 02:07:54 PM »
More Countries Ban Muslim Brotherhood
by Hany Ghoraba
Special to IPT News
July 21, 2020
https://www.investigativeproject.org/8483/more-countries-ban-muslim-brotherhood


Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Jordan- a crackdown risks backfiring
« Reply #112 on: August 04, 2020, 11:29:57 AM »


In Jordan, a Government Crackdown on Civil Dissent Risks Backfiring
4 MINS READ
Aug 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT

The arrests of teachers union leaders in Jordan risks fueling unrest in the typically politically stable country against a government the United States relies on for its regional counterterrorism efforts. On July 25, Jordanian security forces arrested over a dozen key members of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate and charged them with corruption, incitement, financial irregularities and criminal activities. Forces also raided the union’s offices and shut them down for two years. Nasser Nawasreh, acting head of the Teachers Syndicate, was charged with incitement specifically over a speech he gave on July 22 that sharply criticized Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government. A government spokesman said that the arrests were conducted to prevent the union from staging planned sit-ins and demonstrations that risked harming “the state’s essential services and their functioning.” On July 29, some teachers protested the arrests and office closures in downtown Amman, prompting another crackdown by security forces. Small demonstrations are also likely to continue to pop up in Jordanian cities.

The boldness of the powerful teachers union will test the Jordanian government’s established strategy of proactively quelching unrest by containing powerful political opposition groups. The crackdown by security forces could itself be a trigger for social unrest, given the union's size and popularity. The Jordanian government’s forced closure of the union’s offices is intended to serve as a message that Razzaz’s government has the power to force the union, as well as any other opposition group perceived to be a threat to political stability, in line with the government.

Jordan’s government has previously shut down political offices of movements it deems threatening by being able to potentially extract costly political or economic concessions. In July, Amman forced a full dissolution of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood after shuttering the transnational Islamist movement’s office in 2016.

With over 100,000 members, the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate is a key civil society group that has proven capable of starting disruptive unrest. The union also has alliances with the most vocal political opposition groups in Jordan, including the Islamic Action Front, and has led some of the largest protests in the country since the Arab Spring.

The arrests of teachers union leaders in Jordan could eventually jeopardize U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the region, should it fuel unrest that successfully prompts political change.

Jordan's poor economic situation, however, will not only drive further teacher demonstrations but challenge the government’s ability to crack down on them. Pandemic-related austerity measures enacted in recent months have exacerbated simmering tensions between the union and Amman, as public sector workers (including teachers) did not receive promised bonuses
According to the International Monetary Fund, Jordan’s economy is expected to contract this year for the first time in decades due to pandemic-related losses in tourism and services revenue.

The Teachers Syndicate claims Amman has not honored a deal it negotiated in October for a 50 percent pay raise. Without such a pay raise, the union has argued that the cost of living in Jordan has become too high for teachers — a trend that will only worsen amid the country’s deepening economic crisis.

While unlikely to snowball into unmanageable levels of unrest, such protests have the potential to immediately disrupt U.S. regional policy should it successfully prompt political change.

Jordan is an established, critical counterterrorism partner to the United States, as well as a major recipient of U.S. economic and security aid. Washington also uses its strong bilateral relationship with Razzaz’s current administration and the monarchy to conduct intelligence operations across the region.

The Teachers Syndicate, however, has increasingly voiced its dissatisfaction with Omar Razzaz’s government, arguing it has prioritized the needs of the United States and its other external allies over the needs of Jordanians.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Jordan: Cooties test stability
« Reply #113 on: September 24, 2020, 02:28:21 PM »
COVID-19 Tests Jordan’s Stability
4 MINS READ
Sep 24, 2020 | 19:59 GMT

Jordan’s deteriorating social and economic conditions due to COVID-19 are driving support to Islamist parties, raising the risk of a government crackdown that could fan the flames of radicalism. Despite recording fewer than 5,000 COVID-19 cases since March, Jordan has taken a strict lockdown approach, with tight border controls and restricted incoming arrivals for tourist locations. The impact on business activity, and in particular tourism revenue (which accounts for nearly 20 percent of Jordan’s GDP), has in turn taken a steep toll country’s economy, with unemployment now expected to hit an all-time high of 25 percent by the end of this year.

Jordan was already struggling with a high unemployment rate of 19.1 percent prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in March. In the years leading up to the pandemic, Amman was also in the midst of imposing spending restructuring plans, which included unpopular income taxes, per the advisement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

For decades, extremist groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State have leveraged the country’s historically high levels of youth unemployment to recruit younger Jordanians, particularly men, shut out from the country’s formal economy.

In the 2000s, Jordan faced a serious al Qaeda insurgency that attacked Western interests and threatened its tourism trade. This time saw young Jordanians and Palestinian refugees willing to carry out attacks, driven by transnational jihadist ideologies. These threats still linger: In 2016, gunmen shot and killed 14 in an attack on the popular Karak Crusader Castle.

Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood branch, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), will likely find greater support among the country’s lockdown-weary population ahead of November parliamentary elections. The IAF currently holds 10 of 130 seats in the lower house of Jordan’s parliament. Another five are held by a splinter group that typically aligns with the IAF, with the rest held by independent members of parliament loyal to King Abdullah II. The Islamist party does not hold any seats in the upper house of parliament, which is fully appointed by the king. But while the IAF is unlikely to gain a majority, its campaign rhetoric focusing on improved governance and social conditions may win it additional seats in the lower house of the country’s legislature.

The IAF derives its support base from rural, tribal and conservative areas of Jordan. These areas are also home to the bulk of the native Jordanian population, distinct from the country’s large Palestinian population who fled what is now Israel during the 1948 war. This makes the IAF competitive with the Bedouin political base, which is critical to the monarchy’s stability.

The IAF will also be able to gain votes from the Palestinian urban classes, many of whom have chafed at the COVID-19 restrictions and do not necessarily like the direction of the country’s economy under the IMF program, and want to signal their discontent to the monarchy by supporting the only realistic opposition force in the country.

The IAF’s boosted political status will enable it to better organize protests against public policies and lobby the monarchy to shift Jordan’s direction. Despite being unable to command parliament, with increased support from urban voters, the IAF will likely still have an expanded ability to organize strikes and protests after the election. Such protest activity has a demonstrated ability to change the direction of Jordanian policy, as they did when mass protests brought down Prime Minister Hani Mulki in June 2018 because of an unpopular income tax proposal. 

Jordan's COVID-19 crisis is driving support to Islamist parties, raising the risk of a government crackdown that fans the flames of radicalism.

Jordan’s monarchy, meanwhile, will come under international pressure, in particular from close allies such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to limit the IAF’s gains. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are key donors to Jordan, with both pledging $2.5 billion in aid to prop up the country’s economy during mass protests in 2018. But Riyadh and Abu Dhabi also oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, and want to limit its influence in fellow Arab monarchies for fear that the Islamist group will undermine those systems.
 
An aggressive crackdown by Amman that either blocks the IAF from participating in the upcoming election or undercuts its competitiveness, however, would risk only further radicalizing Jordanians.

Restrictions on Jordanian political activity have helped radicalize Jordanians in the past, supplying insurgents with new recruits. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for example — Jordanian who helped found al Qaeda in Iraq — began building some of his radical networks from a Jordanian prison in the 1990s.

Amman has already cracked down on several civil society groups, including a teachers’ union, that have pushed back against its reform push. This tightening of control, however, has not yet resulted in formal bans on particular organizations.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Jordan's new defense agreement with America
« Reply #115 on: March 22, 2021, 07:47:15 PM »

Brief: New US Defense Agreement With Jordan
The deal permits U.S. aircraft and ships to freely traverse Jordanian territory.
By: Geopolitical Futures

Background: The United States’ balancing strategy in the Middle East hinges on partnerships with key states like Israel. Another important U.S. partner is Jordan, which has received billions of dollars in economic and military aid for decades. In Jordan, the U.S. has a trusted Arab partner that provides a platform for regional engagement, especially on the Palestinian issue.

What Happened: On Sunday, Jordan publicized its most recent defense agreement with the United States. Signed in January, the deal permits U.S. aircraft and ships to freely traverse Jordanian territory, and U.S. forces can store equipment and personnel in the kingdom. U.S. forces are also permitted to carry weapons within the country while on duty, but the agreement stops short of allowing them to carry out combat actions within Jordan.

Amman reached the agreement without seeking the approval of its parliament. One lawmaker said the deal violates Jordanian sovereignty, a charge the country’s foreign minister dismissed.

Bottom Line: The U.S. does not want to depend too heavily on any one country for the success of its strategy in the Middle East. Given the shaky state of U.S.-Israeli relations, Washington is perhaps demonstrating that it has a firm presence in the region independent of its ties with Israel – and it’s doing so only a day ahead of Israeli elections. Having such a relationship could open the way for the U.S. to engage with the Arab members of the budding Israeli-Sunni Arab alliance without having to accommodate Israel at every turn.

======================

https://www.timesofisrael.com/jordan-publicizes-defense-deal-that-allows-us-forces-free-entry-into-kingdom/






Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Royal Grievances go Public
« Reply #117 on: April 06, 2021, 08:47:50 AM »
In Jordan, Private Royal Grievances Go Public

In Jordan, the arrest of a former crown prince reveals a kingdom uncertain of how to address its pandemic-induced economic crisis, which could harm Jordan’s reputation for stability if the monarchy fails to deter further high-profile displays of dissent from its own family members, as well as the general public. On April 3, Jordanian authorities arrested 20 people for an alleged plot to overthrow the government deemed to be a “threat to the country’s stability.”

The most high-profile of the arrests include the former crown prince and half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Hamzah bin Hussein, and his mother, who were both reportedly under house arrest as authorities conduct an investigation. Prince Hamzah released a video late on April 3 to the BBC claiming he was being silenced because he spoke out about corruption in Jordan and the “incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years,” likely referring to King Abdullah II’s reign.

It’s unclear what corruption Prince Hamzah was specifically alluding to. But he’s linked to the kingdom’s economically impoverished Bedouin tribal communities, who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on tourism, which many tribes rely on for employment. As of April 6, Prince Hamzah had signed a pledge of allegiance to King Abdullah II, signaling a tentative official end to the royal family dustup.
================================

http://jordantimes.com/news/local/gag-order-issued-prince-hamzeh-issue

===========================

http://jordantimes.com/news/local/saudi-fm-arrives-jordan-deliver-king-salmans-letter-support

===========================

http://jordantimes.com/news/local/qatari-newspapers-voice-solidarity-jordan

« Last Edit: April 06, 2021, 08:56:46 AM by Crafty_Dog »

DougMacG

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Re: Stratfor: Royal Grievances go Public
« Reply #118 on: April 06, 2021, 03:59:14 PM »
Did you have a chance to meet or work with any of these people?

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Jordan:
« Reply #119 on: April 06, 2021, 07:27:40 PM »
My read of a friend's message to me is that the official line is that everything has been worked out and no big deal.  Could be , , ,  The following is prior to my friend's message.  Surprising amount of apparent serious work from CNN!
=========================

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/05/middleeast/jordan-arrests-royal-family-explainer-intl/index.html

Crafty_Dog

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Serious Read: Jordan's Existential Dilemma
« Reply #120 on: April 08, 2021, 05:51:29 AM »
Jordan’s Existential Dilemma
The king's options for dealing with his half brother are limited.
By: Hilal Khashan


Jordan will celebrate its centennial anniversary on April 11. The milestone coincides with a rift within the Hashemite monarchy that the government unexpectedly brought to the public's attention. The monarchy survived the assassination of King Abdullah I in 1951, the attempted Arab nationalist coup in 1957, the demise of its Hashemite cousins in Iraq in 1958, the loss of the West Bank in 1967 and the 2011 Arab uprisings. This time is different in that it exposes the Hashemites’ political decay; mounting domestic demands for democratization, administrative transparency and economic reforms; and regional pressure to accept the deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It suggests a feud between two Hashemite royals, King Abdullah II and his half brother Prince Hamzah. It is not about stopping a foreign conspiracy, as argued by the former, or fighting corruption, embezzlement and restricting political freedoms, as argued by the latter. It’s about a rivalry over political dominance and enjoying the economic spoils of power.

On Hashemite Unity

Historically, Jordan’s monarchs owe much to the support of the country’s tribes. They joined Hussein bin Ali in his rebellion against the Ottoman Empire in 1916. In 1957, Bedouin units of the Jordanian military defeated the coup attempted by the Palestinian units of the military and secured Hussein’s rule. To this day, the Hashemites are still suspicious of pan-Arab Palestinians, who account for roughly 70 percent of Jordan’s population, and so depend heavily on tribal support. (Small groups of Chechen and Circassian minorities control the intelligence apparatus and palace guards.)

Jordan
(click to enlarge)

Abdullah II’s predecessors did not centralize state authority because they knew the tribes would buck. Instead, they bought their loyalty, allowing them to apply their tribal codes in civil and criminal matters. This arrangement worked until Abdullah II began to rely more heavily on the armed forces to maintain law and order.

For their part, the Hashemites have consistently shown strong solidarity, usually presenting themselves to the Jordanian people as a cohesive ruling family. Just before he died in 1999, King Hussein removed the crown prince title from his brother Hassan, who had held it for 34 years, and gave it to his son Abdullah II. Abdullah appointed Hamzah as crown prince but revoked the title five years later and gave it to his son Hussein. Neither Hassan nor Hamzah publicly criticized their ouster, choosing instead to put the family first.

This makes the current rift all the more curious. On Saturday, the government detained more than a dozen people – allegedly led by Hamzah – for planning a foreign-backed coup. The detentions were reportedly the result of an extensive investigation carried out by the intelligence apparatus and internal security forces. Hamzah, who is now under house arrest, has denied any wrongdoing and has criticized the government’s inability to govern, its corruption and incompetence. Hamzah's U.S.-born mother, Queen Noor, dismissed the charges as unfounded allegations. This is nothing less than an existential crisis for the royal family.

There have long been tensions between Abdullah and Hamzah. Hamzah certainly doesn’t trust the king, who violated his promise to keep him next in line for the throne, but the differences between them are more fundamental. The secular-minded Abdullah, who was born to a British mother and whose native language is English, depends on his articulate Palestinian wife in public appearances. On the other hand, Hamzah is fluent in Arabic, has a Transjordanian wife, understands Bedouin culture, and presents himself as a pious man. He is approachable and evinces a charismatic demeanor that endears him to the tribal heads and security establishments whose rank and file are predominantly Bedouin. Hamzah could never dethrone Abdullah, of course, because he does not influence the army or the powerful intelligence apparatus.

Even so, the rise of such a towering opposition figure is a threat to Abdullah. In a country where the royal family members are above public criticism, the local media could not avoid noting Hamzah's continuous spate of public appearances and timidly commending him on his enthusiasm and altruism without judging his intentions. Hamzah’s vociferous criticism of Jordan's crackdowns on freedom of expression, its rampant corruption, and the squandering of public funds made him the suspect of conspiracy and collaboration with foreign countries – a thinly veiled allusion to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (Apart from the perfunctory expression of solidarity with the Jordanian king, the Saudi foreign minister’s visit to Amman immediately after the break-up between Abdullah and Hamzah attests to the regional dimension of the Hashemite crisis.)

More Than Palace Intrigue

There are real-world implications to the palace intrigue. Jordan's economic situation is dire. The average per capita income in 2019 was about $4,400, with an unemployment rate exceeding 30 percent. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the suffering of a people who are already heavily taxed. Extravagant royal spending contrasts starkly with Jordan's population, the majority of whom live under the poverty line or just above it. Queen Rania, for example, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on her wardrobe. Her claim that her dresses are gifts or bought on discount is unconvincing to most of her subjects. A former personnel member in the royal court financial affairs department says the queen spends $2 million every year on shoes, bags and briefcases. He adds that the king earns more than $2 billion every year from his investments in the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom, in addition to his alleged illicit revenues in Jordan.

Hamzah has naturally focused on this aspect of his family’s extravagance. He has meanwhile begun to talk more with leading tribes that predominate in the security apparatus, without whose loyalty the king cannot secure his regime. It was his half brother's suspicious behavior that drove Abdullah to act preemptively. He has since stepped back somewhat. He commissioned his uncle, Prince Hassan, to defuse the family crisis. He banned public discussion of the matter, pledging to resolve it internally. Hamzah supposedly signed a letter pledging loyalty and support for the king and crown prince, including a phrase about working in the best interests of the Jordanian people. But it demonstrates that the crisis is far from over – next to his signature, Hamzah inserted a note that he is at his uncle's residence, suggesting that he will not abide by the king's decision to put him under house arrest.

There is no easy way to fight corruption in Jordan, especially among the Bedouins, who constitute Hamzah’s support base. They are somewhat insulated from reproach because many officials share blood relations and marriage with them. Hamzah champions the fight against corruption with the full knowledge that doing so lies beyond his competence and charisma. Jordan never legislated, let alone implemented, anti-corruption and democratization measures. If anything, corruption has been rising thanks to constitutional clauses that give the prime minister and Cabinet members immunity from prosecution. The law also allows members of parliament to engage in business as commercial partners. Jordan's political institutions function more like a business than agencies of public well-being.

Jordan does not foster real political processes even though it recognizes 30 political parties, because its absolute monarchy does not tolerate dissent and opposition. The kingdom is held together by the army and the intelligence apparatus. During most of King Hussein's reign (1952-1999), the Muslim Brotherhood fully supported the Hashemites, and commentators often labeled it as the loyal opposition. Repression increased with the surge of the Arab uprisings, and the government arrested many activists and silenced demands to transition the kingdom into a constitutional monarchy.

It is therefore unlikely that Hamzah’s ideals are the driving force behind his opposition to Abdullah. He understands the workings of Jordanian society and knows how polarized the country is. And though he may well be sincere in his calls for reforms, there’s little doubt that he wants recognition and direct political involvement in Jordan's politics.

Abdullah's options for dealing with him are limited because he opposes the so-called deal of the century forged under the Trump administration. After all, it would ruin the Hashemite monarchy and transform it into a Palestinian state. Working with Hamzah could avert this eventuality. The Saudis, keen on completing the deal, took advantage of Jordan's flagging economy and low military pay to buy some Jordanian soldiers. The survival of Jordan is at stake, and the key to preserving it is royal cohesion. The ball is in Abdullah’s court.

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« Reply #121 on: April 08, 2021, 09:21:49 AM »
President Biden called up Jordan's King Abdullah Wednesday, the monarch whose half-brother made headlines over the weekend for what the king alleged was "sedition" that's now been "nipped in the bud," CNN reports off a statement released by authorities in Amman on Wednesday.

Context: "Jordan is mired in economic problems amid a growing outcry against alleged government corruption and mismanagement," according to CNN. "Anger has been building among its youth — who account for most of the population — over the state of a deteriorating economy made worse by the pandemic" as "Unemployment and poverty rates have reached record highs."

About that Biden-Abdullah chat: "Together they discussed the strong bilateral ties between Jordan and the United States, Jordan's important role in the region, and strengthening bilateral cooperation on multiple political, economic, and security issues," the White House said in its own statement Wednesday.

Biden also told the king "the United States supports a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," which follows a U.S. decision to release $150 million in development funds to the Palestinians that had been held up under POTUS45. That aid package also "includes $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peacebuilding programs through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and $40 million in security assistance," the Times of Israel reported Wednesday. More here.


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Deep Palace and Geopolitical Intrigue
« Reply #123 on: June 13, 2021, 01:04:34 PM »
No idea how to solve the total lack of formatting so in the interest of legibility I will make a few guesses.  Regardless, this is one seriously interesting read!

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Opinion: Inside the palace intrigue in Jordan and a thwarted ‘deal of the century’




by David Ignatius
June 11 at 11:08 MT


President Donald Trump had a dizzying dream for a diplomatic “deal of the century” for Arab-Israeli peace that would unite his allies Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It never happened, in large part because Jordan’s King Abdullah II would not bend to pressure and make concessions on the status of Jerusalem and other issues affecting the Palestinians.

His resistance came at a price: Abdullah’s kingdom has been shaken by tremors over the past several years, encouraged by the squeeze from top political leaders in the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Abdullah’s troubles erupted into public view in early April, when the king’s security forces detained three prominent Jordanians he suspected of plotting to destabilize his regime: Prince Hamzah, the former crown prince groomed by his American-born mother for the throne; Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a relative of the king and a powerful tribal leader; and Bassem Awadallah, a former Jordanian minister who had become a confidant of the Saudi crown prince, who’s often known by his initials, MBS.

A Jordanian prosecutor referred charges against bin Zaid and Awadallah to the State Security Court on June 2, but the details weren’t disclosed publicly. A Jordanian investigative report on the case, shared with me by a knowledgeable former Western intelligence official, claims that the alleged plotters’ actions “do not amount to a coup in the legal and political sense, but they were an attempt to threaten Jordan’s stability and incite sedition.”
Hamzah wasn’t charged. The investigative report says he and his family “are at their home under His Majesty’s [Abdullah’s] care.” The report argues that Hamzah had “never accepted” his 2004 removal as crown prince and sought to “present himself as an alternative” to his half brother, the king.


The Jordanian report continues: “Awadallah was working to promote the ‘deal of the century’ and weaken Jordan’s position and the King’s position on Palestine and the Hashemite Custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.”
Hamzah, bin Zaid and Awadallah couldn’t be reached for comment, and efforts to contact attorneys who speak publicly on their behalf weren’t successful.
The Jordanian turmoil surprised observers, some of whom suspected that Abdullah was overreacting to family politics. But a careful reconstruction of the story, gathered from U.S., British, Saudi, Israeli and Jordanian sources, shows that the pressure on the king was real and had been building since Trump began pushing for his mega-peace plan, with Netanyahu and MBS as key allies.

In retrospect, this was a plot hiding in plain sight.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser on the negotiations, embraced Netanyahu and MBS — but grew increasingly antagonistic toward the Jordanian king. “It became a belief of Trump that the king was a hindrance to the peace process,” says one former senior CIA official.

While Trump, Netanyahu and MBS don’t appear to have been working to overthrow the king, their actions clearly weakened him and encouraged his enemies.




White House senior adviser Jared Kushner stands among Saudi officials as President Donald Trump talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in March 2018. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)


Trump’s campaign for normalization of Arab relations with Israel was laudable. It yielded the so-called Abraham Accords that forged new links between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. But the prize Trump and Kushner wanted most was Saudi Arabia — and to clear the way, they tried to muscle Jordan, for decades one of the United States’ closest Arab allies.


Now the winds have shifted: Trump has left office, and Netanyahu appears to be on his way out. Jordan is back in favor, and Abdullah’s advisers say he will visit the White House this summer, the first Arab leader to meet personally with President Biden. MBS is in limbo with the Biden administration and still awaiting a presidential phone call or invitation.


This account of the palace intrigue is drawn from discussions with 10 current or former officials with detailed knowledge of events there. They requested anonymity to describe sensitive intelligence information about one of the least visible but potentially most destabilizing power plays in the Middle East in recent years.




This photo from the Royal Court Twitter account shows Jordan's King Abdullah II, center, Prince Hamzah, second from left, and others during a visit to the tomb of the late King Hussein, in Amman in April. (AP)


At the center of this story is Jerusalem, Israel’s political capital and a religious treasure for Christians and Muslims, as well as Jews. The Hashemite monarchy in Jordan owes much of its legitimacy to its role as custodian of the al-Aqsa Mosque there. Abdullah has described protection of the Muslim holy shrine as a “red line” for Jordan. Over the past three years, Abdullah felt that Trump, Netanyahu and MBS were all trying to displace him from that role, according to an American who knows the king well.


Until Trump’s last day in the White House in January, Kushner kept pushing for a breakthrough that would allow a hesitant MBS and Saudi Arabia to embrace normalization, according to several knowledgeable officials. By that time, the Jordanians had gathered a dossier of intercepted messages from the alleged plotters that, the Jordanian document contends, showed “incitement against the political regime” and “actions that would … create sedition.” The deal of the century was a distant memory.


The pressure on Abdullah began with his coronation in 1999, following the death of his father, the charismatic and cunning King Hussein. For all Hussein’s courtly charm, he had reigned on a perpetual hot seat, surviving multiple coup plots, assassination attempts and power plays from his neighbors. A 1994 peace treaty with Israel gave the kingdom Israeli in addition to U.S. protection. But Abdullah inherited the same delicate balancing act that had led Hussein to title his memoirs “Uneasy Lies the Head” [that wears the crown].


Abdullah soon became a darling of the West. With his stylish and freethinking wife, Queen Rania, he was a symbol of young, modernizing, pro-Western leadership in the Arab world. He met each summer with the United States’ business and political elite at a gathering sponsored by Allen & Co. in Sun Valley, Idaho. He embodied U.S. and Israeli hopes for peace and moderate Islam in the Middle East.




Jordan's King Abdullah II laughs with his half brother Prince Hamzah, right, shortly before the monarch embarked on a tour of the United States in 2001. (Yousef Allan/AP)


Abdullah’s relations with Saudi Arabia were more complicated. The Hashemite dynasty had once ruled Mecca and Medina, but now, transplanted to resource-poor Jordan, it needed regular cash infusions from the House of Saud and other Persian Gulf monarchies to survive. Saudi King Abdullah, who reigned from 2005 to 2015, was generous. Riyadh’s interest in Amman was “stability, stability, stability,” recalls a Saudi intelligence source.


The Jordanian monarch’s status as the United States’ best friend in the Arab world began to change with the rise of MBS, after his father, King Salman, took the Saudi throne in 2015. MBS was an instant celebrity in the United States, with his Vision 2030 plan for modernizing his kingdom, his moves to curtail the Saudi religious establishment, and his brash charm.


The MBS bandwagon accelerated when Trump became president in 2017 and made Riyadh his first stop overseas. MBS was touted as a reformer, even as he was suppressing the rights of dissidents and female activists. His power grab became more ruthless in 2017, when he purged a rival as crown prince and jailed more than a hundred prominent Saudis at the Ritz-Carlton hotel until they swore allegiance and turned over some of their cash. Then came the gruesome murder of a dissident journalist, Post Global Opinions contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, in October 2018, a mission the CIA says was approved by MBS.


Joining the MBS entourage was Awadallah, a Jordanian who had served as minister of planning and chief of the royal court. He had become a controversial figure in Jordan, as critics argued that he had benefited financially from his closeness to the king. King Abdullah encouraged him to move to Riyadh, where he made a new start advising MBS on privatization and modernization plans. Awadallah helped preside at Davos-like gatherings, such as the 2018 Future Investment Initiative forum, held just three weeks after Khashoggi’s murder.


According to a Saudi source who spoke with a friend of Awadallah, the Jordanian told the Saudi friend that MBS exclaimed after their first meeting: “Why haven’t I met you before?” The implicit message, argues the Saudi source, was: Now, you’re mine.


By 2018, the Jordanian monarch had become concerned that MBS’s new prominence was coming at Jordan’s expense. During a February 2018 visit to Amman, I heard that worry from senior Jordanian officials. They feared that Jordan, after so many years as a loyal partner, was being displaced because of Trump’s infatuation with MBS and the Saudis — and his eagerness for the “ultimate deal” on the Israeli-Palestinian problem, despite Jordanian misgivings.


Trump in May 2018 officially moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, over King Abdullah’s strong objections. That move, coupled with Jordan’s perennial economic woes, led to street protests in June 2018. A worried Saudi King Salman joined other Gulf leaders in pledging up to $2.5 billion in emergency aid. But the Jordanians say most of that money was never delivered.




Jordanian protesters wave their national flag as they are confronted by riot police in the capital, Amman, in December 2018 during a demonstration against the government's decision to raise the income tax.. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP via Getty Images)


Kushner, a real estate tycoon, hoped that economic incentives could persuade the Palestinians (and Jordanians) to support Trump’s peace bid. Kushner unveiled his economic proposals at a conference dubbed “Peace to Prosperity” in Bahrain on June 25 and 26, 2019. His hope was that the Palestinians would eventually accept a limited form of sovereignty, and a different formula for control of Jerusalem, in return for financial largesse.
King Abdullah traveled to Washington in March 2019 for a briefing on the plan. That same month, he made sharp public statements in opposition. In remarks captured in a March 21, 2019, YouTube video, translated by The Post from Arabic, Abdullah said: “I will never change my position on Jerusalem … regardless of what other people say. We have a historical duty toward Jerusalem and the holy sites. … Is there pressure on me from abroad? There is pressure on me from abroad. But, to me, this is a red line.”


Abdullah was even more emphatic in an interview captured in a YouTube video dated March 26, 2019, and translated by The Post. “I, as a Hashemite, how could I backtrack or let go of Jerusalem? Impossible. ... People talk about the ‘deal of the century,’ or an alternative homeland. How? Do we not get a voice?”


Kushner’s dream was that Saudi and other Arab support for his plan would overwhelm Jordanian and Palestinian opposition. That hope might have been bolstered by an op-ed in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on July 3, 2019, soon after the Bahrain conference, by Malik Dahlan, a Saudi lawyer in London who is a close confidant of Prince Hamzah.


Dahlan argued that “the costs may be severe” if the Kushner plan collapsed. “If it does fail, it is likely to bring down the [Saudi-sponsored] Arab Peace Initiative with it and end all newfound regional momentum towards peace. That would be a catastrophe.”


The Saudi lawyer then outlined a compromise formula that would begin “with an agreement on the governance of Jerusalem. ... This Jerusalem-first approach would involve the idea of ‘integrative internationalization,’ which, incidentally, I also prescribe for [Mecca] and Medina.” Dahlan said in a telephone interview Thursday that the “integrative internationalization” approach was meant to draw in other Islamic and Western countries but wasn’t intended to displace Jordanian or Hashemite custodianship of al-Aqsa.


As pressure increased on the Jordanian monarch at home and abroad, his security services began investigating possible threats to his regime. The evidence they gathered hasn’t yet been tested in Jordanian courts or international forums, so it’s hard to make final judgments. But the quick moves by the United States and other Western nations to embrace Abdullah after reports of the alleged   plot surfaced in April suggest they took the king’s worries seriously.


The investigation began two years ago, according to the Jordanian investigative report I reviewed, which states: “In mid-2019, intel indicated Sharif Hassan bin Zaid … met with two officials from a foreign embassy to inquire about their country’s position on supporting Prince Hamzah as an alternative to the King, and Sharif Hassan continued to communicate with the embassy afterwards.”
The former Western intelligence official who provided the report says he believes the embassy in question was probably that of the United States.


The Jordanian report continues: “During 2020, a number of tribal figures reached out to security agencies and brought their attention to attempts by Prince Hamzah’s aides to solicit support from them and members of their families.” By later 2020, the report notes, “intel obtained by security agencies indicated intensified communication between Prince Hamzah, Sharif Hassan and Bassem Awadallah.”
Kushner accelerated his push for Trump’s peace deal in 2020. He released the political details for a Palestinian settlement in January, but because of Palestinian resistance it was dead on arrival. More hopeful developments came in August, with the announcement of a normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE, and in September, with a similar agreement between Israel and Bahrain.


But the Jordanian monarch remained a problem. Awadallah complained to an American former intelligence officer about MBS’s frustration. “A sticking point for us is al-Aqsa. The king [Abdullah] uses that to browbeat us and keep his role in the Middle East,” Awadallah said, according to the American former official. At another point, the former official says, Awadallah had stated: “MBS is upset because he can’t get a deal because he can’t handle the reactions of Palestinians if the king holds his position on Jerusalem."


Benny Gantz, a retired chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces who was serving as Netanyahu’s defense minister, became so concerned about the deterioration in Netanyahu’s relationship with King Abdullah that he made a secret visit to Amman to reassure the king in early 2021, according to an article in All Israel News.


Gantz said later in a Zoom call with supporters: “I think Jordan is a great asset to Israel. ... Unfortunately, Netanyahu is an unwanted figure in Jordan and his presence harms the advancement of relations.” That was a sign of the Israeli security establishment’s worry about possible destabilization in Jordan.


The pace of the alleged plot accelerated in 2021, the Jordanian investigative report claims. It says that security agencies intercepted WhatsApp messages between the three alleged plotters “encouraging Prince Hamzah to ‘make a move’ and also indicated — via coded references — the involvement of other individuals and parties.”


Awadallah was said to be referred to in the intercepted WhatsApp messages as “No Lube” because he doesn’t drink, according to the former Western intelligence official. In one intercepted message, the report asserts, Awadallah said the contacts with Hamzah and the tribal leaders have support from “my boss,” presumably meaning MBS, the former official says. The report accuses Awadallah of “conspiring with foreign agendas” and seeking to “weaken” Jordan’s role as custodian of the Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem.


As Jordan struggled with the covid-19 pandemic, Hamzah increased his outreach to tribal elders and other Jordanian groups, holding more than 30 such meetings in early 2021, according to the investigative report. When Awadallah suddenly moved up a planned departure to Saudi Arabia by a week, to April 4, the authorities decided it was time to move.


Awadallah and bin Zaid were arrested April 3, along with at least a dozen others, and Hamzah was placed under what amounted to house arrest.


Prince Hassan, brother of the late King Hussein and once in line for the throne himself, brokered a family peace deal. Dahlan sent the Associated Press a statement saying that Hamzah had accepted the mediation and “I expect a resolution shortly.” He added: “Prince Hamzah has a lot to offer the Kingdom and the Arab World.”


Representatives of Israel’s intelligence and security services, Mossad and Shin Bet, sent private messages to the Jordanian monarch, disavowing any role in the alleged plot. The theme, according to a former U.S. intelligence official who has read the messages, was: “This is not us. It’s coming from in front of us” — presumably meaning Netanyahu.


King Abdullah’s advisers expect him to arrive in the United States in late June. His visit to the White House will illustrate once again a truth about members of the Hashemite dynasty: Amid the endless turmoil of Middle East politics, they are survivors

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Stratfor: What to make of Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq's new alliance
« Reply #124 on: July 06, 2021, 10:12:24 PM »
ASSESSMENTS
What to Make of Jordan, Egypt and Iraq’s New Alliance

undefined and Middle East and North Africa Analyst
Emily Hawthorne
Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor
6 MIN READJul 6, 2021 | 18:00 GMT







An emerging partnership between Jordan, Egypt and Iraq will yield security and commercial gains for each country, as well as provide an alternative Arab voice in the wider region. On June 27, the leaders of Iraq, Jordan and Egypt met in Baghdad for high-level talks on commercial, strategic and security matters. These three Arab middle powers’ dependence on external support will constrain the rapid formation of their new tripartite alliance. But shared economic and political interests will still fuel the pact's incremental creation, especially if the threat of Turkish and Iranian regional influence grows.

The talks followed months of preparations and a meeting between the countries’ foreign ministers in Baghdad in March, and also marked a historic return of an Egyptian head of state to Iraq after 30 years.

Iraq’s prime minister, the host of the June 27 meeting, specifically cited the existence of a “critical historic turning point” in both the global fight against COVID-19, as well as in the regional fight against terrorism, in allowing the creation of a new regional alliance, which seeks to achieve stronger ties in three areas: economic partnership, political cooperation, and security and intelligence coordination.

Iraq, for its part, is trying to broker better relationships with other Arab majority countries to bolster its ability to withstand growing pressure from Iran and, to a lesser extent, Turkey. Iraq’s government was the primary instigator in forming the new Arab alliance. Fortifying relations with other Arab nations is part of an effort by Sunni politicians to reduce Iraq’s heavy economic and energy dependence on Iran, which can be a liability due to sanctions and Western opposition to Tehran. The United States, for example, has repeatedly demanded that Iraq weaken its ties with neighboring Iran. Iraq is also dependent on Turkey for some of its water supply, as well as trade — especially in resource-rich northern Iraq, where the Kurdistan Regional Government works closely with Ankara to export oil.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi invited Jordan and Egypt’s leaders to the June 27 meeting.
Iraq is dependent on Iran for roughly a third of its energy and electricity supply, which has led to both disruptions in electricity service and tensions between Baghdad and Washington.

Less cooperation against common enemies like the Islamic State could enable Turkey and Iran to gain greater influence in the region, which some Arab states will view as a threat. The chaos of the 2011 Arab Spring and the militancy that reared its head in the following years brought a number of regional rivals together, including Iran and Turkey, as well as Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. The Islamic State threat also led to a deeper U.S. military presence in the region. While the global jihadist group is far from defeated, the Islamic State has lost its ability to rapidly grow and gain territory as Iraqi security forces and other regional military forces have better developed their counterterrorism abilities.

Egyptian, Jordanian and Iraqi leaders have all recently acknowledged a strong desire to reduce their focus on the Islamic State and the militancy that sprung from events like the Syrian civil war, which have characterized the last decade following the Arab Spring with instability.

Turkey and Iran’s governments, meanwhile, are both seeking to deepen their Middle Eastern partnerships. Closer Turkish and Iranian ties could work in Egypt, Jordan and Iraq’s economic favor, but at the risk of eroding broader Arab regional influence.

The United States has been clear about its desire to draw down some of the military presence in the region that increased due to the Islamic State threat, and is currently negotiating a withdrawal timeline with the Iraqi government.

Jordan, Egypt and Iraq’s dependence on external powers for some of their economic and security interests will not only slow the formation of their alliance, but limit its ultimate scope. These three Arab states are all reliant on foreign aid in some way and cannot afford to burn bridges with their wealthier patrons. For this reason, their new alliance is aimed at only diversifying their tie while still maintaining their existing aid and commercial relationships. Egypt and Jordan are just behind Israel in terms of receiving the most security aid from the United States, and there is no indication that that will change even as Washington tries to draw down its military presence in the region. Egypt, Jordan and Iraq share concerns about the regional dominance of Arab Gulf powers like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia seeking to cajole the Arab world to support their politics and priorities. But Cairo, Amman and Baghdad are also unlikely to turn down Arab Gulf investment money, giving Riyadh and Abu Dhabi some political influence in their respective governments. Oil-dependent and debt-ridden Iraq, in particular, is in no position to turn down foreign funding, as the country faces a deepening financial crisis.

An emerging middle-power alliance between the less wealthy Arab Gulf states will provide some pushback against the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who have channeled their wealth into efforts to become leaders of the broader Arab world. Abu Dhabi and Riyadh will likely try to co-opt or at the least draw some benefit from any growing ties from some of their key Arab partners in the region, regardless of whether or not they are in control of the burgeoning relationships.

Better coordination between Jordan, Egypt and Iraq’s intelligence services could help circumvent the development of another transnational threat in the region like that once posed by the Islamic State. All three countries have capable intelligence and security forces that have undergone a significant amount of Western and U.S. training. Stronger ties between three of the United States’ closest security and diplomatic partners will also reassure Washington that a further withdrawal of U.S. forces in the future won’t greatly disrupt regional stability in line with U.S. goals.

There are some potential untapped commercial benefits in terms of energy and trade ties that could be mutually beneficial for all three countries as well. Jordan is eager to restore trade to neighboring Iraq that evaporated during the Islamic State fight. Egypt is also hoping to broker deeper ties between Egyptian energy companies and their Iraqi counterparts — especially with Egypt on the cusp of developing more Mediterranean oil and gas reserves, and Iraq eager to court regional investors into its own oil and gas assets.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 10:13:56 PM by Crafty_Dog »


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Stratfor: Jordan-Israel Rapprochement will hinge on West Bank Tensions
« Reply #126 on: July 22, 2021, 05:44:49 AM »
Not wild about some of the shadings in what follows, but a worthy read nonetheless.

Jordan-Israel Rapprochement Will Hinge on West Bank Tensions

Jordan and Israel are taking active steps to improve their bilateral relationship, but Amman’s deep roots in the West Bank mean the durability of the rapprochement will hinge on Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories. In early July, officials from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s new government held their first meeting with their Jordanian counterparts since taking office. During that meeting, Israel agreed to increase the amount of water it annually shares with Jordan to 50 million cubic meters — nearly double the 30 million cubic meters Israel usually provides. If this larger transfer actually happens, it would mark the first time that Israel has followed through on the water-sharing component of its peace agreement with Jordan since it was signed in 1994. In a further indication of warming ties between the two countries, Bennett also secretly met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman earlier this month.

During the July meeting, Jordan and Israel agreed to raise the cap on the former’s exports to the West Bank as well.

As one of the driest countries in the world, Jordan and has long depended on water from Israel for both agricultural and household consumption.

The appointment of a new Israeli government for the first time in 12 years has provided an opening for calmer relations with Jordan. The aforementioned steps toward normalizing the two countries’ strained ties only occurred in the weeks after Bennett’s government was sworn in. This indicates that the new Israeli government is trying to start with a clean slate with its eastern neighbor, whose relationship with Israel has been stormy in recent years. Given intensifying global scrutiny around Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories following the bloody May 2021 Gaza war, bolstering ties with an Arab neighbor could also provide the Israeli government with a much-needed reputational boost. Moreover, Israel needs Amman’s cooperation to ensure stability in restive Jerusalem, given Jordan’s partial stewardship of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the surrounding Temple Mount area. 

The previous Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu took some actions that Jordan’s government viewed as offensive, including refusing to let Jordan’s crown prince visit the Al Aqsa Mosque, welcoming the White House’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in December 2017, and dramatically expanding settlements in West Bank territory. Bennett’s new government, however, has yet to signal it plans to reverse course on these issues.

Jordan became custodian of some of Jerusalem’s holy sites nearly a hundred years ago. After losing those rights in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Jordan then regained the custodianship claim in 1994 as part of its peace agreement with Israel.

How Jordan approaches its budding ties with Israel will depend heavily on Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories — and in particular, in the neighboring West Bank. Many Jordanians are of Palestinian descent and resent any public display of closeness between their kingdom and Israel. To ensure domestic stability, Amman will thus be compelled to create some diplomatic distance with Israel when there are upticks in the conflict with Palestinian militants, or when Israel expands settlements in the West Bank. Preventing dissatisfaction with the royal court from becoming a source of active anti-government unrest is all the more important amid Jordan’s sluggish economic recovery from COVID-19 and a foiled coup plot in April.

Compared with the Gaza Strip, Jordan is more likely to react strongly to upticks in Israeli-Palestinian tensions in the West Bank given its proximity to the region, as well as Jordan’s historical ties to the Palestinian communities living there. Amman also has close relationships with West Bank political groups like Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, which it conversely lacks with those in Gaza — namely, Hamas.

On April 3, Jordanian authorities arrested the former crown prince and half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Hamzah bin Hussein, and his mother, for an alleged plot to overthrow the government. The rare royal family dustup has since blown over, but there remains a residual need to reassure Jordanian partners, including Israel, that King Abdullah II is still in control and that his preferred succession line also remains in place.

A closer diplomatic relationship between Israel and Jordan could offer both countries key economic and security benefits. For one, more functional and pragmatic ties at the top level of both governments will enable even deeper cooperation between Israel and Jordan’s intelligence and security agencies. Jordan can also advocate for more regional visitors to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which could boost its regional standing and help display Amman’s care for the Palestinian cause. More Israeli water for parched Jordan is especially important for the stability of the kingdom’s agricultural sector as well, with Jordan’s environment ministry warning in May that severe droughts in the country will only worsen in the coming years due to climate change.

Jordan needs a functional relationship with Israel for its own security and economic well-being. Jordan was the second Arab state, after Egypt, to sign a peace agreement with Israel. The 1994 agreement grants Jordan some access to Israeli economic and agricultural aid, as well as water and energy resources. The agreement has also enabled intelligence sharing between Jordanian and Israeli agencies, which has likely helped contribute to some of the relative calm Jordan has experienced in the militant-ridden Levant region.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Jordan:
« Reply #127 on: July 22, 2021, 07:03:29 AM »
second post:

As usual GPF goes deeper than Stratfor:


July 22, 2021
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Jordan’s Perennial Quest for Survival
The deployment of U.S. troops to Jordan won’t help solve the country’s myriad problems.
By: Hilal Khashan

U.S. officials described the Defense Cooperation Agreement signed between the United States and Jordan earlier this year as a reflection of Jordan’s strategic importance to the Middle East. The deal calls for building a vast U.S. military base in the country to accommodate the relocation of military assets from Qatar, Kuwait and Turkey. Jordanian officials say that the agreement is the culmination of decades of cooperation between the two countries and a means of bringing more stability to the region. Jordan has long been concerned about its weak strategic position compared to neighboring Israel and the possibility of another wave of Palestinian refugees coming across its border. But King Abdullah II seems to be ignoring the reality that a U.S. military presence in Jordan won’t solve the country’s myriad problems.

A Turbulent Beginning

The British established the Emirate of Transjordan in 1921 after detaching it from Palestine. The Hashemites, descendants of the Umayyads, who ruled the first Muslim caliphate from Damascus between 661 and 750, wanted to resurrect the caliphate. The British goal was to prevent Prince Abdullah, the eldest son of Sharif Hussein bin Ali, the king of Hejaz, from seizing Damascus and claiming it as the seat of his Arab kingdom. The prince’s capture of Damascus would have violated the terms of the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, which promised French control over Syria and Lebanon.

In 1923, the British established the Arab Legion to maintain law and order and patrol the border with Syria to prevent the tribes from intruding into the French-administered zone. Britain granted Transjordan independence in 1946 with the signing of the Treaty of Alliance, a deal that echoes the recent Defense Cooperation Agreement with the U.S. In 1949, King Abdullah I renamed the country the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after annexing the West Bank. In 1956, King Hussein expelled British army officers from the country and Arabized Jordan’s military to appease the pan-Arab Palestinian majority.

Jordan
(click to enlarge)

Love-Hate Relationship With Israel

Throughout its history, Jordan has had a turbulent relationship with Israel. King Abdullah I initiated direct but covert contacts with Palestine’s Zionist movement leaders in the mid-1930s. In 1948, the Arab Legion went to war with Israel to seize a part of Palestine that Abdullah had agreed would join Transjordan during a meeting in Amman with Golda Meir, then head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency. King Hussein, who took the throne in 1953 after Abdullah was assassinated in 1951, had little contact with Israeli leaders until 1963 when Israeli intelligence launched Operation Lift.

But Hussein and the Israeli leadership failed to make peace. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin rejected outright the principle of Palestinian statehood and proposed that Jordan become the Palestinian substitute homeland. In 1997, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the assassination of Khaled Mishaal, the head of Hamas’ Politburo, in Amman. Hussein then threatened to abrogate the Wadi Araba peace accord, compelling U.S. President Bill Clinton to intervene and insist that Netanyahu provide an antidote that saved Mishaal’s life. But despite Hussein’s tense relationship with Begin and Netanyahu, the two countries have cooperated on some key points. Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency warned Hussein several times about threats to his life by operatives acting on behalf of Egyptian intelligence. And on the eve of the 1973 October War, Hussein informed then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir that Egypt and Syria were planning a simultaneous attack on Israeli troops in Sinai and the Golan Heights.

Today, relations between Israel and Jordan are still rocky. King Abdullah II rejected the Abraham Accords, a Middle East peace plan proposed by the Trump administration, seeing it as an existential threat to Jordan’s survival as a Hashemite kingdom. He believed the plan would undercut Jordan’s custodianship over Jerusalem’s holy shrines and unleash a new wave of Palestinian refugees that would completely alter Jordan’s precarious demography. His resistance to the deal led to his isolation during the Trump presidency. Joe Biden’s election as president gave Abdullah hope that Jordan’s isolation could be reversed. Abdullah doesn’t trust the ability of the new government of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to resolve the Palestinian question and doesn’t believe it will last.

Royal Family Feud

Chief among Jordan’s current challenges is the dissension within the royal family itself. Last April, the government said it uncovered a plot led by King Abdullah II’s half-brother Prince Hamzah. Authorities revealed few details about the conspiracy, saying only that it amounted to sedition, a punishable crime according to Islamic theology. The plot also allegedly involved another obscure royal family member, a former Cabinet minister and a dozen tribal affiliates. Only the royal family member and Cabinet minister were tried in court, while Hamzah and the tribal accomplices were spared.

Arab media outlets outside Jordan linked the purported conspiracy to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who allegedly sought to topple Abdullah and install Hamzah as king of Jordan. It’s believed that the crown prince favored Hamzah because, unlike Abdullah, Hamzah would have been open to signing the Abraham Accords, which would have set the stage for Riyadh to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Such a treaty was important because the success of Saudi Arabia’s Neom megaproject near the Jordanian border relies on Israeli cooperation – which would require normalization of relations between the Saudis and Israelis.

The incident points to an unprecedented struggle between the royal Hashemites and the Transjordanian Bedouins, who are the backbone of support for the monarchy. Jordan’s deep-seated economic crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, created a schism between the royal family and a segment of the Transjordanian Bedouins. The latter felt that the government did not redress their economic grievances, and Prince Hamzah presented himself as a defender of their lost privileges. Abdullah believes he is losing their support, without which the monarchy would crumble.

Elusive Alliances and Hollow Reforms

Arab rulers tend not to take political reform seriously, and King Abdullah II is no exception. He is aware that the Biden administration wants him to launch comprehensive political reforms. Last month, he set up a royal committee to look into political, bureaucratic and economic changes. In presenting the committee, the king bragged about what he called a continuous reform process that began at the time of Jordan’s founding a century ago. Judging by what previous committees have achieved during Abdullah’s 22-year rule, there is little hope that the new committee will make any progress.

The plan to permanently deploy a significant contingent of U.S. troops to control Jordan’s borders with Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia seems to have assured Abdullah that his regime is secure. Biden’s welcoming of Abdullah and his young crown prince at the White House has given the king the impression that the U.S. is committed to including his son in a far-reaching and lasting strategic partnership.

But Biden’s foreign policy focus is not on the Middle East. His administration hasn’t defined how it will partner with Jordan beyond sending troops and storing military hardware. It’s interested in a limited set of goals in the region, including giving Israel security assurances by, for example, insulating Jordan from Iran’s sphere of influence. The United States’ redeployment to Jordan is part of this agenda. The king sees the Defense Cooperation Agreement with Washington as a way of securing his regime and the crown prince’s future. But a large and conspicuous U.S. military presence will only encourage Jordan’s fledgling civil society to assert its presence in the country’s politics.