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Jordan’s treachery in support of Israel is nothing new

April 15, 2024 at 10:08 am

Parts of a missile launched from a missile are landed in Marj Al-Hamam area, during Iran’s airstrikes against Israel, in Amman, Jordan on April 14, 2024. [Ahmed Shoura – Anadolu Agency]

Iran launched the largest drone attack in history over the weekend in retaliation for Israel’s egregious act of state terrorism that targeted the Iranian consulate in Damascus earlier this month. Seven senior military advisors were killed in the Israeli attack, including Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

Hundreds of Shahed “suicide” drones, along with cruise and ballistic missiles, were fired against the occupation state. This came a day after the seizure of an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz. The operation, named Truthful Promise, was a coordinated effort by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), with the participation of Yemen’s Houthis and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which launched rockets towards the occupied Golan. Iraqi resistance factions also declared their involvement.

While the vast majority of the drones were intercepted before they even reached occupied Palestine, two important Israeli military sites were targeted: an intelligence headquarters in Mount Hermon and the Nevatim Air Base. Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, was quoted as saying that the response “was planned to target the air base from which the Israeli aircraft that attacked our consulate departed.”

Symbolically and significantly, Iranian drones were sighted but intercepted over occupied Jerusalem. They flew over key landmarks including the Dome of the Rock in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the Knesset, and the secretive nuclear facility in Dimona, which is widely regarded as the heart of Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal.

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Tehran has justified the attacks with its Permanent Mission to the UN stating that it was, “Conducted on the strength of Article 51 of the UN Charter pertaining to legitimate defence.”

“The matter can be deemed concluded,” added the Iranian Ambassador to the UN. “However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe.” The IRGC confirmed that, “Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus.”

Before and during the operation, many commentators supportive of Zionism or critical of Iran, condemned the latter for its inaction after repeated provocations by Israel. They dismissed the response when it came as a merely theatrical or face-saving gesture. This criticism paralleled reactions to the IRGC’s past retaliatory strikes against US bases in Iraq following the assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

And yet it is painfully clear that Iran and its allies stand alone in confronting the apartheid state, even as Israeli bombs rain down on the Palestinians in Gaza. The harsh reality is that neighbouring Arab states have either compromised by normalising relations with Tel Aviv or have simply stood by as a genocide unfolds in Gaza.

A prime example of such normalisation with the occupation state of Israel is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

This “kingdom” was created by the British, and has consistently betrayed the Arab and Palestinian cause. During the Iranian assault, Jordan closed its airspace and pledged to shoot down any intruding drones. Alongside US and British jets, which intercepted drones over the Iraq-Syria border, Jordanian jets shot down numerous Iranian drones as they flew over northern and central Jordan towards Israel, reported Reuters.

According to the Jordanian government, “Some flying objects that entered our airspace last night were dealt with and confronted.” It added that the military “will confront anything that would expose the security and safety of the nation… to any danger or transgression by any party.”

Iran, meanwhile, has warned that it will retaliate more severely should Israel carry out further acts of aggression, which looks likely. In a statement yesterday, Iranian Defence Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani also declared, “Whichever country opens its soil and airspace to Israel for a potential attack on Iran, it will receive our decisive response.”

Mairav Zonszein, a senior analyst at the Crisis Group, described Amman’s defence of Israel as “especially remarkable for a generation of Israelis that remembers sheltering from attacks from Jordan.”

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Despite being party to the Arab-Israeli wars of the past, Jordan has always been the weakest link of the Arab states. It was a reluctant belligerent in the 1967 Six Day War, with King Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, having established secret contacts with Israel several years earlier. Ahead of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the king “was helicoptered to a Mossad building outside Tel Aviv along with his prime minister, Ziad Rifai” where he informed Israeli officials including Prime Minister Golda Meir of Syria’s planned offensive and Egyptian support.

Documents only declassified in September 2023 by the Israeli State Archives, shed further light on these contacts. Jordan would become the second Arab state, after Egypt, to normalise relations with Israel in 1994, and has since maintained a cold peace, contrary to the warm relations between the occupation state and the UAE and Bahrain.

King Abdullah, who warned 20 years ago of an Iran-backed “Shia Crescent” forming in the Middle East, recognises the precarious position his country is in. In a phone call yesterday, he apparently told US President Joe Biden that any further escalation from Israel would widen the conflict in the region.

Perhaps he took into consideration that earlier this month, Iraqi resistance faction Kataib Hezbollah said that it is capable and ready to arm 12,000 fighters in Jordan, “to form a unified force to defend our Palestinian brothers.”

This is against the backdrop of growing popular outrage among Jordanian citizens, the majority of whom have Palestinian roots and overwhelmingly oppose normalisation with Tel Aviv. This hasn’t prevented the Jordanian authorities from clamping down on solidarity with Gaza, though, and even going as far as to ban symbols like the Palestinian flag and keffiyehs at demonstrations.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to MEMO, one independent Jordanian observer revealed: “The [Iranian] attack pleased everyone, even those afraid to speak out publicly. The Jordanian establishment has been instilling in people’s minds for decades that Iran is the enemy, not Israel.” After Saturday night, people are telling the source privately that they were wrong. “They were unpleasantly shocked by the Jordanian interception.”

Shamelessly, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that it had summoned the Iranian ambassador to warn Tehran that it must stop questioning Amman’s position in jumping to the defence of the Zionist entity.

Not one to mince his words, former Pakistani senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan went viral on X for branding King Abdullah a “traitor, son of traitor, son of traitor.”

Western powers which did not condemn Israel’s air strikes on a consulate are also portraying Iran as the aggressor. The US, though, has stated that it will not participate in any “retaliatory” strikes by Israel.

Meanwhile, according to IRGC commander Hossein Salami, a “new equation” has been formed, “Which is that if from now on the Zionist regime attacks our interests, assets, personalities and citizens, anywhere, and at any point we will retaliate against them.”

Jordan and other pro-Israel Arab states that collaborate with the Zionist state would be wise to at least avoid actively defending it, as it seems that they are likely to face significant blowback from both internal and external forces in the near future.

READ: Thousands of Jordanians protest near Israeli embassy in Amman in solidarity with Gaza

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