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Jordan reconsiders its relations in the Gulf

Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (L) is welcomed by Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) at the 28th Arab League Summit in Amman, Jordan on March 28, 2017 (Salah Malkawi/Anadolu Agency )
Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (L) is welcomed by Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) for the 28th Arab League Summit in Amman, Jordan on 28 March 2017 (Salah Malkawi/Anadolu Agency )

“We are continuing the process of exchanging ambassadors, and we are still in diplomatic consultation.” With these words, a senior Jordanian government source explained, to Arabi21, Amman’s intention to resume diplomatic relations with Doha, following Jordan’s decision to cut ties with Qatar in June 2017.

The same source said that “the relations between the two countries will undergo positive developments soon”. This raises the question: “Why has Amman broken the siege imposed by the Boycotting Countries? What is the relation between Jordan’s decision and the position of some Gulf countries vis à vis the Deal of the Century; a peace plan which the Jordanian Kingdom rejected?

Political analyst Dr Munther Al-Hawarat said: “postponing the official announcement of the exchange of ambassadors is because some of the elites in Jordan think that there is no need to cause tension with the Gulf region and that some of the Boycotting Countries may reject the Jordanian endeavour.”

Al-Hawarat conveyed that “the ambassadors of both countries are likely to resume their duties soon. The Jordanian government must be bold and clearly announce the timing of the ambassadors’ return. Jordan, by its circumstances, must hold cordial relations with everybody and should not take sides with any party.”

He doubted that “the return of the Qatari ambassador will affect Jordan’s relations with the Gulf countries, as Jordan has failed to be a successful mediator in the crisis during its presidency of the Arab Summit. Thus, maintaining good relations with all States may allow Jordan to be an efficient intermediary.”

Read: Jordanian delegation withdraws from security conference in seating protest 

Al-Hawarat added: “The Gulf conflict has been futile, as the current phase and present circumstances require that the Gulf’s efforts unite against the dangers threatening the region, such as the escalation in the Strait of Hormuz, and the rising tension between Iran and the US. During this critical period, the Gulf States must be in harmony. Thus, any kind of destabilisation in the Gulf States’ inter-relations will be harmful. Similarly, Jordan will be affected by any disruption in the Gulf region, so it is concerned with restoring peace between conflicting sides. ”

Jordanian sources told Arabi21 that Amman sent the name of Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan, Zeid Al-Louzi to the Qatari authorities to consult with them on appointing him as the new ambassador, while the sources expected that Qatar’s ambassador to Oman would be from the royal family.

Amman has joined the boycotting countries two days after Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates announced severing relations with Qatar. In June 2017, the Jordanian authorities announced reducing diplomatic exchange with Doha and the cancellation of Al-Jazeera Channel’s work permit, amid questions about pressure exerted on Jordan to take such a decision.

Arabs ready to bomb Qatar - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Arabs ready to bomb Qatar – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The Jordanian deputy Prime Minister, Mamdouh Al-Abadi, stated in an interview with Arabi21 that “Jordan is gradually withdrawing from the Saudi Arabia-UAE alliance to break free from pressures about the Deal of the Century. Practically, Jordan did not commit entirely with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. I think that, after two years, the time has come for Jordan to prove its independence and neutrality through implementing a foreign policy which is more moderate and moves away from political alliances.

Al-Abadi stressed: “I am for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Qatar. The decision has been delayed.  However, it is better late than never. We must stand at an equal distance from all our Arab brothers, whether they were right or wrong.”

Diplomatic and commercial ties between Amman and Doha have not been interrupted during the years of siege, as Jordanian goods and vegetables flowed into Doha steadily, while commercial delegations have signed cooperation agreements between both countries.

The volume of trade exchange between Qatar and Jordan is close to $400 million a year, according to figures released by Jordan Chamber of Commerce. Thus, the Jordanian trade balance tends to favour Qatar, from which the kingdom imports inputs for mineral and chemical products for its oil assets.

READ: 80% of Palestinians believe Arab states abandoned them

Repositioning

Jawad Al-Hamad, head of the Middle East Studies Centre (MESC) told Arabi21 that “Jordan’s position towards Qatar was not hostile and did not match the position of other countries. The Jordanian Kingdom has only taken symbolic measures against Doha. Thus, air transportation has not been shut down between both countries, and Jordan has maintained trade relations and labour force exchange. These are factors that will facilitate the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries permanently.”

On the timing of the resumption of relations between both countries, Al-Hamad explained that “Jordan has been adopting a new philosophy that consists of two parts; the first is to re-position and preserve its best interests away from conflicting hubs whose battles are difficult in which to engage. Second, Jordan is convinced to diversify its Arab, Islamic and international options at present to avoid intolerable pressures from any party.”

The Jordanian kingdom has announced that it has been subjugated to external pressures to accept the US peace plan, aka the Deal of the Century. Thus, King Abdullah II of Jordan announced last March from the city of Zarqa that Jordan was under pressure regarding the Deal of the Century while stressing that the Jordanian people are standing by his side.

The King addressed Jordanian citizens, saying: “Are there pressures exerted on Jordan? Yes, many pressures are being exerted on Jordan, and there are external pressures exerted upon me as well. That is true, there are external pressures exerted upon me, however, to me, Jerusalem is a red line, and I know very well that all my people are with me. Whoever wants to influence us will not succeed to do so.”

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