Considerable attention is paid by Western media to the governments of official enemies, when they lack democracy.
The Western media’s long attention span for Syria’s democratic deficiencies, as one example, is all too often not motivated by genuine concern for the peoples of the region, but by subservience to their governments’ foreign policies. How do we know this? We know this because of the relative lack of attention to the democratic shortcomings of official allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia (a brutal, absolutist monarchy), Egypt (a military dictatorship) and Jordan.
Jordan is a particularly under-reported case in point.
The state is not a democracy by any stretch of the imagination. Its parliament is essentially powerless, with the real decision-makers being the king and his court.
Yet, the country is considered to be an ‘ally’ of governments in the US and in Europe, so when Jordan is covered by the subservient Western press (rarely), it tends to be in fawning terms.
Jordan has always been a powerless client state, submissive to Western imperialist forces.
Founded as a kingdom in 1946 and at first named Transjordan, the state was essentially a British protectorate.
Its army, the Arab Legion, had been formed to fight against the Ottomans during World War I. For decades, its officers were all British men. Even after Arabisation of its army command in 1956, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan remained aligned to the US-UK Western sphere during the Cold War.
During the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing by Zionist forces of the majority of Palestinians from Palestine, the Arab Legion effectively collaborated with the emerging state of Israel.
Apart from in Jerusalem, Transjordan’s army barely fought the Israeli army.
As well-documented by Israeli historian Avi Shlaim (one of the 1980s wave of ‘New Historians’), King Abdullah had struck secret agreements with the Zionists to divide Palestine between them.
Hence, the Arab Legion did not invade any of the areas of Palestine assigned to the Arab State under the United Nations 1947 partition plan. Only in Jerusalem – which the UN had designated an international city, but which the Zionist militias invaded regardless – did Transjordan’s forces and the new Israeli army engage in any significant fashion. The West Bank was then, for decades, annexed onto the newly renamed Kingdom of Jordan.
There have, however, been incidences of significant conflict between Jordan and Israel, notably the 1968 Battle of Karameh. This was an Israeli invasion of the Jordanian town of Karameh, the site of a major Palestinian refugee camp, and base of support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
Israel’s goal was to destroy the camp altogether, but they were foiled by the resistance of PLO fighters, who fought a victorious defensive battle, in alliance with the Jordanian army.
The Palestinian-Jordanian casualties far exceeded the Israeli deceased, but at the end of the battle, the Israeli invasion was repulsed.
There was also the failed assassination attempt of Hamas leader, Khaed Mishal, in the Jordanian capital of Amman, in 1997.
Mossad bunged the poisoning, and their two agents were caught and arrested by Mishal’s bodyguard. King Hussein forced Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to surrender the antidote, threatening to void the 1994 Jordanian peace treaty with Israel if Mishal had died.
This worked, and Mishal still survives today. But Hamas was later banned by Jordan, with Mishal exiled to Qatar.
Jordan has far too often acted as a client for Western imperialism.
This summer, the full terms of the 2016 Jordanian deal to buy billions of dollars of Israeli gas, were revealed for the first time.
Because such a large number of Palestinians were expelled during the years of 1947-49 by Israel, it is thought that more than half of the Jordanian population are actually Palestinian refugees.
This simple (oft-forgotten in the West) fact, along with Jordanians’ natural Arab affinity with their Palestinian neighbours, combined with Israel’s long history of aggression against Jordan and the rest of the region, all of this amalgamated means that, of course, the gas deal is incredibly unpopular in Jordan.
And yet it was forced through, because Jordan is still effectively a client state of US imperialism. Even with the reality of King Abdullah II’s ultimate control of the government, the treaty was only pushed through deception. Jordanian officials have tried to distance the governments of both Israel and Jordan from the deal, claiming it was signed solely between private companies.
But the facts remain that the Jordanian electricity company that must buy the gas under the deal, is owned by the government, and the US-Israeli company that sells the gas will end up paying tens of hundreds of billions of dollars to the Israeli government in royalties and taxes, for extraction from the Leviathan gas field.
As reported by Tamara Nasser of The Electronic Intifada, “this means that the Israeli government is a direct beneficiary of the transaction and, as critics charge, Jordanian taxpayers and electricity customers will directly subsidise Israel’s treasury, as well as its military occupation of Palestinian land.”
But the deal is not a fair nor equal one. The financial penalty for Jordan cancelling the deal within the first five years, is millions of dollars higher than if the US-Israeli side were to decide to cancel it within the same time frame.
Furthermore, there’s no real requirement for Jordan to import Israeli gas when it has such abundant potential wind and solar resources, which the billions of Jordanian dollars required under the deal could instead be spent on developing.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.