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Public opinion and Jordan’s allies

Sep 01,2018 - Last updated at Sep 01,2018

Jordanian public opinion perceives the US as the most influential country in Jordan as 77 per cent of surveyed adult Jordanians reported, followed by Saudi Arabia (KSA) and UK 58 per cent each. This perceived influence is not coming out of the blue. It is informed by strategic partnerships in politics, security and economy. The survey which was conducted recently by NAMA in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung also finds that the US is described by Jordanians as the “closest ally of Jordan” by both the masses and elites. 

However, discrepancies between masses and elites show that Jordanians’ preferences are going in different directions. While masses describe the US as the “closest ally of Jordan” at 41 per cent, followed by KSA at 22 per cent, then the UK at 8 per cent, then Turkey at 7 per cent, the UAE at 5 per cent, when asked about which country you would like Jordan to cooperate with more in the future, KSA tops the list with 20 per cent, USA 19 per cent, Turkey 11 per cent, the UAE 8 per cent, the UK and Germany 6 per cent each. This change between “described reality” and “preferred reality” points to a few framing narratives and undercurrents among Jordanians. 

For elites, the closet ally of Jordan is the US at 50 per cent, followed by UK at 11 per cent, KSA 5 per cent, Turkey 4 per cent. When asked which country you would like Jordan to cooperate with more, the US topped the list with 20 per cent, followed by Turkey 12 per cent, KSA 8 per cent, UK 7 per cent, Russia and Germany 7 per cent each.

Among the masses, two Western countries the US and UK account for 50 per cent as the closest ally of Jordan, while Middle Eastern countries (Arab and Muslim) account for 34 per cent. Among the elites, USA and UK account for 61 per cent as “closest ally of Jordan”, and (Arab and Muslim) account only for 9 per cent in the top four countries. 

These described realities change when both masses and elites are asked about their preferred allies of Jordan. Nearly 38 per cent of the masses and 20 per cent of the elites, when asked which country Jordan should cooperate with more in the future named Arab and Muslim countries, compared to 30 per cent of the masses and 41 per cent of elites naming none-Arab/Muslim among the first 6 preferred countries (China was number 7 at 3 per cent ). 

Clearly elites are more supportive of Western cooperation while masses are more supportive of Arab-Muslim cooperation for Jordan’s future. Interestingly, Russia and China do not make it to the top 8 countries list among the preferences of the masses, they; however, occupy advanced positions among the elites with Russia being preferred at the same level as Germany and the UK. Given the complexity of underlying factors that shape these attitudes and preferences, another attempt will be made in the next few weeks to examine whether aid from these countries to Jordan is a “shaping factor” or is it only cultural framing?


The writer is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions

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