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On Jordan’s internal stability

Jun 03,2018 - Last updated at Jun 03,2018

In recent years, Jordan has faced various challenges, including regionally due to the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq. Jordan’s risks are growing in terms of their difficulty every day, not just due to the ongoing regional instability but also because of deepening internal challenges.

There is no doubt that security is the major priority, but Jordan’s economic situation is increasingly becoming just as big a threat. The majority of Jordanians are concerned about a lack of a credible economic plan to assure them there is an end to the economic hardship that they have been enduring for so many years. While economic hardship is not new for Jordanians, it is difficult to persevere when there is a lack of coherent plan that gives hope for a light at the end of the tunnel.

It is always interesting to compare the current situation to history in order to analyse Jordan’s current situation. The link between regional and domestic in Jordan is extremely important to understand. In various previous articles, I tried to emphasise the linkage between the two phases. Back in 1989, over two years, the region saw three major incidents in the spark of the Intifada in the West Bank, the end of the Lebanese civil war with the Saudis shaping the Taif Agreement and the end of the Iran-Iraq war. Economic issues sparked the April 1989 uprising in Jordan and an accumulation of policy mistakes and missteps pushed latent anger and frustration into open confrontation. We are seeing similarly impotent policies and excuses today.

The signs of an economic crisis in Jordan were apparent for a while, and yet there was no effective policy to address the underlying problems. Once the regional threats were resolved, the internal issues were the focus. With the collapse of the Jordanian dinar, the negative economic impact fed the bitterness of people towards the governing elite and their polices, which included martial law. There was no incident or direct trigger to push Jordanians to protest. Jordanians are not likely to protest making political demands, but economic hardship will push people to desperation. Despite this, in the end, the solution was political.

Comparing this to today, Jordan’s role in the region is shrinking as resolutions are made and alliances are changing without consideration for Jordan. It is important for Jordanian decision makers to understand that functional roles no longer work and that international politics are driven by economic pragmatism. As such, Jordan’s real challenge is to find common interests with other countries in order to survive. This will never be achieved without a new vision and strategies that leverage Jordan’s geo-strategic situation, while also reengaging with our neighbours, particularly Syria and Iraq.

Jordan needs to engineer an integral regional role in the developing peace negotiations by engaging with Russia, Syria and Iraq as well as the traditional alliances of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt. This needs to be done while also reshaping the relationship with the US, based on mutual interests. Jordanians facing economic hardship need to see a new approach to external and internal challenges in order to continue to endure the hardship, based on the hope of reprieve. Otherwise their desperation will increase.

Security is a key priority for Jordan, but with new terrorist groups forming and seeking recruits for radicalisation, Jordan’s increasingly desperate population will attract those groups, thus fostering social protests and creating fertile ground for radicalisation and conflict. Jordanians do not currently have much anti-state sentiment, but further economic hardship and desperation could drive them to protest and attract these terrorist groups looking to grow again.

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Comments

Let's see, which of the two prior comments was written by someone in Israel's social media hasbara unit?

Let’s see; Syria and Iraq. Both economic powerhouses.
Is there any other country bordering Jordan which is a real economic powerhouse with a proven record of innovation
Which could turn help Jordan from a welfare case into a strong , vibrant country?
Of course, all the maps and globes in Jordan would have to acknowledge first that Israel exists. Just changing the maps and globes could be an employment generator for starters.

EXCELLENT ARTICLE AND THANKS TO AMER FOR MENTIONING THE UNTOUCHABLES, RE-ENGAGEMENT WITH SYRIA AND IRAQ. THE LAST STRAW THAT IS CAUSING PROBLEMS TODAY IN JORDAN IS IRAQ AND SYRIA. IN FACT THE TRADE AND OTHER ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JORDAN AND THESE TWO COUNTRIES ARE MUCH MORE THAN THE CHANGE THAT JORDAN RECEIVES FROM THE WEST THAT JORDAN COUNTS ON AND RESPECT. WHAT WAS THE PRICE OF PETROL AND GAS BEFORE AND AFTER THE IRAQ WAR. FOLLOW THIS TREND AND YOU CAN PUT THE PIECES OF PUZZLES TOGETHER.

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