Saturday, May 27, 2006

Jordan and Iran: What's going on?

Ever since the exposure of the Hamas terror cells, the government has been trying to underplay the role of Iran in the case. This is despite the fact that Iranian weapons were among those which were found smuggled from Syria.

Two weeks ago, the Iranian foreign minister visited Jordan, where he discussed Iran's nuclear program, the situations in Iraq and Palestine with both King Abdullah and Prime Minister Bakhit. The weapons issue was underplayed in the media releases, although "the security and stability of both countries" was emphasized.

Jordan endorsed the right of Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program, and called for the resolution of the nuclear crisis through diplomacy. For their part, the Iranians endorsed Jordan's legitimate interest and role in Iraqi affairs. There was no hint at any agreement on what is going on in Palestine.

Since the visit, mixed signals have been made. On one side, the speaker of the house, Abdulhadi Majali, called Iran "A real threat to Jordan's national security". On the other, King Abdullah is going to Germany next week, where he will probably make the case for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis with Iran. It is not obvious if Majali's statement reflects current official thinking or not.

In the final analysis, it is not in Jordan's interest to have more instability in the region. On the other hand, it does have interests in Iraq and Palestine, as well as its own security concerns. It will be interesting to follow Iranian involvement with Hamas in the near future, and Jordan's moves on behalf of Iran in the west.

9 Comments:

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Abu Shreek said...

Unfortunately our policies (internally and externally) are inconsistent and vague (tatakhabbatt). And they will not be heading in the right direction anytime soon, as long as their makers are the likes of (Abdel-Oodi al Majali) wa amthaloo.

 
At 6:30 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Abu Shreek: I like your blog. Keep it up.

I really can't say what the right direction is. Maybe ambiguity is required at this stage?

I like the Abdel-Oodi al Majali crack.

 
At 7:30 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Majali's comments probably reflect a lot more what most Jordanian politicians are actually thinking then it does official policy.

The government's foriegn policy is overall very smart, not just in regards to Iran. It has to balance regional powers and local threats, and so will continue to try to publically play the neutural mediator in the region.

That means (with a touch of expected cynicism and occaisional hypocrisy) support for international agreements and processes, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and regional stability, with it's eyes firmly on "Jordan First" of course. :)

On the issue of arms, where they were produced really doesn't mean much. Most illicit arms transfers in the world start off as licit. The question is when and how did they get to the point where they became illicit.

 
At 2:06 AM, Anonymous Batir Wardam said...

I strongly favor a peaceful and mutual respect relation with Iran and did not like Majali's comments. I do not recall Iran doing any harm to Jordan in the past, apart from knocking our team out of the World Cup. However the secret politics in the Arab world might have more information not disclosed to anyone.

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Jason:Majali and many others, including myself, believe that Iran, Syria and Hamas were involved in a deliberate effort to destabalize the country. The question is why the government wants to overlook the Iranian and Syrian involvement, and what is the price that was paid and by whom.

Batir: I think sending bombs and guns to Jordan covertly can be qualified as doing harm. Maybe not as bad as eliminating us from the world cup. I forgot about that.

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Hey Khalaf, I understand what you're saying, but the Jordanian government will not publically accuse Iran or Syria of anything because the evidence is not strong enough.

Iraq (the source of these arms according to Jordanian intelligence) is awash in Iranian arms. The existence of Iranian arms in the plot may just as well be evidence of al-Qaida's involvement in the plot as much as anyone else's.

Why did the plotters have to go to Iraq to get the arms if the Syrian government is involved? Wouldn't they supply them with arms that aren't traceable to their one and only ally?

It's all just suspicions at this point and Jordan's not going to risk official relations with either state just on suspicions.

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Jason: I don't know what evidence the government has and how strong it is. I really wouldn't dare to speculate about that, although it seems unlikely that Al Qaida would smuggle Iranian arms through Syria and give them to Hamas operatives.

I think we have already discussed this before.

 
At 6:09 AM, Blogger Jason said...

I meant that as a hypothetical example to try to show that the fact that the arms were produced in Iran means next to nothing. Once arms are in the market they can bought or stolen by anyone and shipped anywhere.

The US government regularlly shipped old Warsaw bloc weapons from conflict zones to thugs it was supporting in other conflict zones in order to hide that fact that was supporting those thugs.

 
At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For their part, the Iranians endorsed Jordan's legitimate interest and role in Iraqi affairs. There was no hint at any agreement on what is going on in Palestine."

Legitimate????????

 

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