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Jordan’s soft diplomacy

Feb 15,2021 - Last updated at Feb 15,2021

Even during my early years in politics, I was obsessed with the intricacies of Jordan’s foreign policy. His Majesty the late, great King Hussein conducted this policy with the panache of a stage director. From a spectator’s perspective, this  diplomacy was made to look easy, simple and sometimes even magical, but now and under a more seasoned and informed gaze, one cannot help but marvel at the depth of its rationality.

Today, His Majesty King Abdullah has his own style, but has adopted similar approaches to His Father’s methods. During the last two years of the Trump administration, official relations with the White House underwent a detectable lull. The “Trumpists” shifted the focus of the relationship between the US and the Near East solely around two issues: First it was the “ Deal of the Century”  that became the focal point, then later,  it was the normalisation of relations between some Arab States and Israel.

Jordan’s foreign policy opted for smooth resistance and silk-woven diplomacy during that time;  that was before the Israeli government was emboldened enough (thanks to the Trump administration’s cavalier disregard for Palestinians) to declare its intentions for annexing parts of the occupied Palestinian Territories in both the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea area as well as building large colonies within these areas.

When the political content of the “Deal of the Century” was revealed in the White House during the month of January, 2020, the elated Israeli prime minister expressed his gratitude for President Trump’s understanding of Israel’s security needs, which apparently could only be met by annexation of the Golan Heights and West Bank territories. The former president was either oblivious or apathetic to the dangers such propositions would pose for Jordan and Palestine.

The foreign policy campaign that Jordan ran, under the King’s guidance, bore fruits and the Israeli government temporarily shelved its plans of annexation.

Trump was banking on his pro-Israel, Middle East policy, in order augment his bid for a second presidential term. Once he failed to achieve his cherished goal, he lost a great deal of his appeal and usefulness in the eyes of his so-called allies. The new administration under Biden was positively received in Jordan.

However, the new US president has inherited a stack of urgent and unresolved issues. The hype, which many countries in the Middle East felt because of Biden’s presidency, was quickly reduced to a subdued level. The appointment of the new Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was disappointing to many in the region due to his  position (or lack thereof) on restoring relations with Palestinians, reversing Trump’s decisions regarding the Palestinian authority, and the relocation of the Embassy to Tel Aviv. Blinken’s attention has been mainly focused on Iran and Yemen.

Jordan’s all-inclusive economic relations with both Iraq and Egypt is beneficial to all parties involved, although Jordan is set to benefit the most from these relations from an economical perspective. Jordan’s priority is to create a political critical mass, which would impress the new American president and urge him to move during the latter half of this year, wherein the Israeli and Palestinian elections would be over, and the desire for engaging in serious peace negotiations would be much higher, to readjust the US president’s focus on the Palestinian issue. 

Track two meetings would have by then produced meaningful and detailed initiatives which can be built on in the quest for a final peace.

Most importantly, the COVID-19 pandemic will probably be under a lot more control, and the coveted Biden — economic salvation bill will hopefully be passed.

Jordan never gives up and is always ready to seize the moment, and play its quintessential part in achieving peace and justice in its region.

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