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Jordan and the danger of ISIS...Between intimidation and underestimation

July 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Where has the exaggeration in estimating the extent of risks and threats that surround Jordan after ISIS was able to take control of the Western Iraqi provinces, extending from its dominant areas of influence in north-east Syria, come from?

I believe that this exaggeration is coming from two sources, each with its own separate set of goals and contexts. The first source, which is more actively promoting the overestimated dangers and threats, is Israel. The second source is the politicians and media stemming from the “axis of resistance and opposition”, and this poses one of the paradoxes of this charged political environment in the region.

Israel will benefit from exaggeration and intimidation, firstly because it views the current “regional moment” as a chance to integrate with the Arab Sunni and Kurdish “coalition of moderate forces” and face Iran and its allies and friends. This is an old goal of Netanyahu, Likud, and the coalition, which it focused on during its last two Knesset campaigns, and has now renewed.

Secondly, Israel will benefit from this because it wants to utilise the “Iraqi-ISIS issue” to serve its purposes in the occupied Palestinian territories. Talk of targeting Jordan, the possibility of its collapse and spread of chaos across the country, as well as reviving the policy of “walls” which stems from the ghetto mentality and fortress theory. These all lead to ensuring the “Israeli right” to keep the Jordan Valley and the hills overlooking it, and to continue to occupy large areas of the West Bank and prolong such occupation. It also enables Israel to impose Israeli security arrangements that revolve around the Israeli army and security services, not American or NATO forces.

Thirdly, Israel can prove its theory which it has spread over the past 10 years. The promoters of this theory have said that the Arab–Israeli conflict is only a small detail and on the bottom of the region’s list of priorities, proceeded by many other conflicts and priorities, including Iran, its nuclear programme, regional influence, and its satellite governments, organisations and (terrorist) parties. Other priorities include the Sunni-Shia conflict and the terrorism of Al-Qaeda and its friends, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The most important part of this theory is that it assumes that Israel and many other Arab countries, including Jordan, have a common interest in facing these dangers and threats and that they must work together to prevent them. The theory also believes that great strides have been made in terms of cooperation and coordination between Israel and many countries in the region to achieve their common objectives, regardless of the fate of the Palestinian issue and developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Therefore, we have seen Israel exaggerate in conveying the extent of the threats and challenges facing Jordan, and even offers its services to Jordan to defend them, considering this to be a common interest between Jordan and Israel. It is also worth noting that the more Israel exaggerates, the more justification if gives Jordan’s enemies to continue targeting Jordan’s security and stability.

As for the second source of hype and exaggeration, it lies in the statements and media coverage of the “axis of resistance and opposition”. Most of them are gloating and show pleasure in Jordan’s harm, as Jordan is about to catch fire as a result of the fire it ignited, or contributed to by supporting an armed group, allowing it to be trained on its land, and arming them by means of their borders. They want their messages to reach “beyond Jordan”, to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states which were the most active in supporting, financing and arming the Syrian opposition.

However, the wise and most mature politicians in this axis are using this campaign of exaggeration and hype to achieve something else; to push Jordan to abandon some of its Arab and international alliances, or to keep a greater distance from them, and instead move closer to Al-Maliki’s government and President Assad’s regime. They also want to push Jordan to coordinate and cooperate with the governments in Baghdad and Damascus to face the common threat of terrorism.

Apart from the “intimidation” campaigns aimed at Jordan that stem from various sources, portraying ISIS as an irreversible force and threat serves other goals and objectives that are apparent to us all. We cannot face the threat of ISIS and terrorism with approaches that “underestimate” or “down play” the dangers or risks posed by it. Either way, we will find ourselves on the wrong track if we do so and we will pay the price. Perhaps this is why we have said early on, since the “Battle of Ninawa” that we must be careful, but we cannot panic. We trust the ability of Jordan’s people, army and security services to address these risks and eliminate them early on, and we base our trust on our past and recent experiences, which boost our confidence in the future and the ability to win.

Translated from Addustour newspaper, 2 July, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.