A growing reality of the nightmare of refugees from Iraq, from the Palestinian Authority (PA) and from Syria swarming across the borders to Jordan, along with the growingly influential Muslim Brotherhood, threaten the kingdom’s stability, researchers report.
“Within the Kingdom and across three of its borders, unfolding developments carry far reaching implications for the region in general and Jordan’s stability in particular,” according to Oded Eran of the Institute for National Securities Studies (INSS).
King Abdullah faced minor but unusual protests earlier this year, particularly from Bedouin and other Arabs who previously fled Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley during Arab-Israeli wars as well as under the PA regime.
Another ingredient in the boiling Jordanian pot is Iraq. “The U.S. final withdrawal from Iraq may cause anarchy there, which in turn will increase the flow of Iraqi refugees to Jordan,” Eran wrote.
“More than half a million people fled to Jordan in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, exacerbating economic demands and inflationary pressures,” he added. “Ongoing Sunni-Shiite tension may draw Jordan against its will into the conflict, as occurred in 2005 when a Jordanian suicide bomber killed 127 Iraqis in Hillah, mostly Shiites, approximately 100 km south of Baghdad.”
The violence in Syria already has spread across the Jordanian border. Syrian soldiers shot at a girl fleeing to Jordan earlier this week, and Jordanian forces rescued her and shot in the air. Last week, Jordanian soldiers arrested a youth for allegedly for helping Syrians to buy arms, and he died in jail, prompting street protests.
Thousands of Syrian protesters have flooded Jordan, and the success of the protest movement may fan flames in the kingdom. The Muslim Brotherhood stands ready to help this happen.
Although Jordan would be pleased with Assad’s demise if it weakens ties with Iran, “the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan has sided with the Syrian anti-government forces…puts King Abdullah in an awkward situation. The specter of Jordanian and Syrian Muslim Brotherhood cooperation no doubt raises concerns in the Jordanian palace.”
The monarch went so far as to say that “If I were in his [Assad’s] shoes, I would step down,” but after media reported that he was outrightly urging Assad to quit, the king backtracked.
Another huge threat to King Abdullah is the prospect of a Palestinian Authority unity government that would restore Hamas’s status in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
Although Jordanian palace officials said that on the king’s recent visit to Ramallah, he discussed the proposal from a positive point of view, Eran noted, “A Fatah-Hamas joint platform of action, which may put an end to any prospect of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, would be viewed with great concern in Amman. The absence of any negotiations may drift into violent friction between Israel and the Palestinians with dire consequences for all concerned, Jordan included.
“The fear in Jordan of another wave of Palestinians fleeing a third intifada, in addition to fears from Syrian and Iraqi refugees, must surely cause sleepless nights in Amman.”