Today, I spent several minutes reading an article by Caroline Glick, an Israeli writer on Middle Eastern matters. In doing so, I found myself encouraged to write this content. I am not necessarily trying to respond to Caroline, but to try to present an extended argument from a Jordanian Citizen who was forced to leave his country. I fled because of what I faced as a result of the ruling of the Royal Regime in Jordan that has led Jordan towards backwardness.
First, Caroline thoroughly presented her arguments regarding the actions of Abdullah towards Israel and the US. She succeeded in analyzing the actions of Abdullah and his strategy. I have to admit, I never expected a Jewish writer to present a good level of understanding to the situation as what Caroline did, however, her conclusions about Abdullah seemed to me that she is more inclined to accept the fact that Abdullah is adopting a double-faced policy, that is, to be friendly with the US and Israel in their face then backstabbing them, because he is trying to appease his hostile people who are anti-Israel and America.
As a Jordanian citizen, I find myself in need of elaborating on some facts, for example, Caroline mentioned that the Israeli Government agreed to pay 5 million JDs to Jordan as a compensation of the Embassy Accident. I have read this headline on the Jordanian Media that is controlled by the King, and the media said that they got this news based on a source from the Jordanian Government that indicated that these funds would go for the victims’ families. The Jordanian media also said that the Israeli Diplomat would be legally followed in Israel as part of the agreement of both the Jordanian and Israeli Governments.
This was actually a surprise to me and other Jordanians, because we personally believe that releasing a fund like that in a democratic country like Israel will need the consent of the Israeli Government, also, the Israeli Prime Minister stated clearly that the damage would not go for the families of the victims. Moreover, the Israeli sources said that these funds would go for reparation of the Embassy after the accident. Another fact to note here is that not all the three victims were actually from the Embassy accident, as there is one victim who was a Judge that was killed in a controversial accident few years ago. It is worth mentioning that Abdullah visited the victims’ families of the Israeli Embassy Accident and one of the families was showed on an interview where they cursed Jews clearly after the accident before Abdullah paid them a condolence visit.
I grew up in Jordan, and since we were in schools, our Jordanian curricula indoctrinated us against Israel. At the same time, these curricula built the students on the blind loyalty to the King who rules an absolute undemocratic Monarchy.
The Hashemite Regime has been ruling by fear more than by loyalty because Jordan was under martial laws for a long time before 1989 when the late King Hussein abolished those laws and called for Parliament elections. It is important to understand that the Jordanians have been for long decades indoctrinated by what the Regime wanted them to receive, because democracy does not exist when the people want to disagree with the ruling King.
One aspect of the blind obedience based on fear and a result of indoctrination was clearly shown in the recent unrest that was ignited by the Regime itself after the US President Donald Trump announced his recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. A week later, the unelected Jordanian Government that is assigned completely by the King called the people to protest against Trump’s decision, the demonstrations on the streets were led not only by ministers and MPs, but the King’s daughter Princess Salma herself led one protest.
During those protests, one could have heard slogans calling for armed struggle against Israel, and cheers for Palestinian Militias like Hamas. This did not stop here. In a tweet from his account dated on the 8th December, 2017, the King himself tweeted a cheer for those protests in Jordan that his Regime called for and are still running on daily basis outside the US Embassy. While his Palestinian wife Rania did also cheer for what she called Palestinian Martyrs who were killed by Israel on the 9th December from her twitter account, in a similar language that was used by Yasser Arafat who used to laud what he called “Martyrs” of Israeli attacks.
On the other hand, An example of punishment for disagreeing with the king happens when Jordanians try to adopt a different ideology than what the King wants them to follow, no matter how liberal this ideology can be. I believe even Caroline knows this, if a Jordanian visits Israel he will be demonized severely in the society. If he is a business owner, his business will be targeted. If he is an MP, he would face memos to deselect him by his MP colleges. If he is a normal person from a tribe, he will find his image published on all the Jordanian Media in a bad way so that he can get racked in the society.
The Regime that has signed a peace treaty with Israel, and one of the acts of that treaty calls for ending the hostility not only between governments, but between the people, and to encourage normalization between both nations. However, this Jordanian Regime is not banning or holding responsibility on these media or the organizations that target and terrorize these individuals who normalize with Israel, and not even trying to protect the victims of such hostile actions.
When political analysts look at this strategy, one would find that it is the same strategy that has been deployed by the Jordanian Regime to secure its existence. The strategy is simply to play the bad alternative game, so that the Hashemites can stay as the only game players in Jordan. Any dismissal of their Regime could mean a demon in charge. Consequently, the gates of hell would be opened on Israel and the borders would no longer be safe.
Unfortunately, this hype of fear has always got into Israeli and Western decision makers minds, however, the actual facts in Jordan and how the country is ruled could post a definite challenge to this traditional look that the Regime has built over decades.
If you look at Egypt for example, during Mubarak Era, the same hype was sold to the West, that is, if his Regime falls, the Muslims Brotherhood will take charge and will wage Jihad on Israel, during the one-year tenure of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi the Egyptian/Israeli Peace Treaty was maintained, and the borders were secure, because any Egyptian Politician understands the cost of a war or hostility with Israel on both his country and the Region, when Sisi took over, the situation did not deteriorate, in fact it improved for Israel and the US as he barred the Muslims Brotherhood Party from Egypt, which was a main source of instigation towards hostility against Israel.
In Jordan, the situation is more severe to forbid any Political animosity against Israel than any other country in the Region. Jordan is dependent on Israel for its water resources, as Jordan is classified as the second top poorest country in water resources around the world, no matter how rich the country is, water is priceless. The country receives aid from the US on annual basis because the Jordanian Regime is banning Jordanians from extracting their lands resources like oil, and this in itself is another story because the Regime wants to keep Jordanians economically dependent on the king’s doles so that he can secure another reason for loyalty and obedience, but going to the point, the US aids assist the annual budget and they are vital to Jordan to secure the public funds.
The most important aspect in the American Jordanian Relation is that the US has secured more than close relations with the Jordanian Army and Intelligence. In fact, the US has influence on both parties. These two institutions are the ones that are keeping the King in power. This King who travels outside the country most of his time during the year, which actually makes him a Part Time Leader in Jordan. Most importantly, it makes him irrelevant in any stability equation in the country.
Does all the preceding mean that overthrowing Abdullah would finally open the gates of heaven for Israel? The answer is not immediately, but it will help improving the situation for Israel and Jordan. The reason is that the Jordanians are fed up with the King and his Regime’s Economic Policy, and in the recent years their fear from criticizing the Regime has started to vanish, because a poor and a hungry man will not have fear anymore. So a new leadership will be welcome not to wage wars, but to help overcoming the Economic struggles that the Jordanians were put through as a result of the corruption of Abdullah and his Regime. Our people want food and want to live better lives, however, under Abdullah, the GDP Per Capita in Jordan has slumped to become less than many regional countries. This is while the unemployment in Jordan has hit unprecedented ranges. Some sad stories about Jordanians looking for food in trash bins are circulated from time to time. Other sorrows of Jordanians setting themselves on fire because of poverty, on the same time, Abdullah and his wife are enjoying a lavishing life and have become multi billionaires according to reports, all of this at the expense of the Jordanian taxpayers. So, a new leadership will be met with optimism to tackle these challenges that are the top priorities of the Jordanians, and definitely not wars against Israel.
Abdullah has always taken Israel as a tool to transfer his problems to, during the past month, his Regime went through a tough time to pass the 2018 Budget that was based on raising the prices of bread and many essential goods. The people were and still frustrated and angry about Abdullah and his Regime, so he took the smart trick to transfer his people anger towards Israel and the US. He benefited from Trump’s Decision on the Embassy to indoctrinate his people against Israel and to forget their economic hardships as part of their Jihad Obligation, Abdullah Regime ordered Imams at Mosques to continue preaching about Israel during the past month. This is based on orders from the Ministry of Religious Affairs that control the topics of Fridays Sermons at Mosques. All the Mosques are obligated to follow these instructions.
Abdullah also used to turn the compass towards Israel on many occasions when his regime was in trouble. He would order his people who guard Al-Aqsa Mosque (based on his Hashemite guardianship on Holy sites) to let the attendants smuggle some weapons with them inside the mosque under the excuse of defending Al-Aqsa. This is so they can provoke Israeli Soldiers response and create unrest in order to escalate so that his Regime Agents in Jordan can use it to sway the Jordanians towards hostility against Israel The result are protests outside the Israeli Embassy and other places to forget Abdullah ill-administration of their public government and funds.
It is also important to understand that the new generation of Jordanians are not interested in wars anymore, unlike the media that Abdullah is trying to spread, the new generations are becoming more mind liberated from the past heritage, so I just wonder about Pew Research that Caroline referred to that was conducted years ago on Jordanians and showed that 100% of Jordanians hate Jews. As a researcher, I think a 100% is definitely demonizing to any society, and here I am, a Jordanian atheist who has many Jewish friends and I do not hate Jews, many in Jordan whom I know are also liberals and not against Jews or Israel, but their voices cannot be raised because of the lack of protection from the Regime to them.
The question I was asking myself when reading Caroline suggestions about taming Abdullah so that he can lead a social development change among his people to liberate their behavior towards Israel and the US. Does this actually serve him or his Regime Agenda, especially when the Hashemites have always based their existence on the hype of being the best option for Jordan? I believe the answer is clearly no. However, Abdullah would try to manipulate the western world with a different tactic now. This is to create a leftist or semi secular front in Jordan to claim that his Regime is supporting liberals and to market it to the west. This is actually happening now, as in the last Parliament Elections in Jordan in 2016 when the Abdullah Regime supported a list called ‘Maan’ meaning “Together.” This list raised the slogan of the civilian state, and to confront the people who try to mix religion with politics. So far so good, but the political principles for this list were clearly calling to stand against Israel and the normalization with Israel! This list was supported by the former Advisor of Abdullah Marwan Muasher who was also a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and a VP for Carnegie Endowment of Peace. A few days ago this list has developed into a political party that is called the Civilian Coalition. They conducted their opening conference with the attendance of Muasher and Maan List MP. The Principles of this party that were repeated inside the conference did not only call to work against Israel and normalization with Israel, but some of this party members spoke for liberation of Palestine from the River to the Sea (Meaning to demolish Israel as a whole). Now Abdullah can market this party to the west as an evidence that he is encouraging Anti-Islamic Parties. This is a proof that even the semi secular productions of this Regime are not working either.
A new Jordanian leadership even if it becomes an Islamist in the worst-case scenario like what happened in Egypt, won’t stand for long and will soon find itself with limited options if it tried to escalate the situation with Israel. Moreover, changes scenarios can include even a military based rule for a temporary period where these illegitimate Political Islamist Groups can be barred so that any coming elections would bring moderates into power. This could be similar to Ataturk or Sisi Approaches but with much modern and bespoke application.
As mentioned, recently the frustration has been building up with Jordanians against the king due to many factors, most importantly the poverty, unemployment, and the repression of this regime to speech freedom, any expert on Jordan cannot be optimistic enough to believe that Abdullah will stay in power for long. The question is, will the US and Israel leave this change uncontrolled because they want to keep their bargain on a man who has become a source of frustration to many of his people or will they embrace the reality and try to deal in advance with the inevitable change?