Even if Israel and the West prop up the carcass of a failed Jordanian monarchy, how long can it last, as it will appear to be another colonialist land grab?


An Israeli soldier sits atop a tank during an exercise in the Golan Heights, near the ceasefire line

With the emergence of Iranian hegemony from Afghanistan to Beirut, Israel’s security and intelligence establishment is watching not only threats from Gaza and Lebanon, but also other areas of potential instability, including locations that have been quiet for years; the Golan Heights and Jordan.

The rise of Iran and the collapse of Syria have unnerved Sunni and Druse populations across the region, including those in Jordan and the Golan. They know that the United States and international bodies have acquiesced in the greatest ethnic cleansing of the 21st century, the removal of hundreds of thousands of Sunnis from Syria and Iraq.

As Hanin Ghaddar Friedmann of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote, “As a result of these efforts, a corridor linking Qalamoun to Damascus, Homs, and an Alawite enclave is almost Sunni-free…

this gives Hezbollah safe access to the Golan Heights, potentially allowing the group to open another front against Israel… The result will be an endless war in a region that is already fragile.”

Just as precarious and uncertain is the future of Jordan.

In desperation for answers beyond the mantra of an elusive two-state solution, experts have looked toward Jordan as a stabilizing pro-Western presence amid a sea of radical Shi’ite and Sunni jihadists. Some believe that a PA-Jordanian confederation is the best alternative.

But how stable is Jordan? Jordan is a very poor country with a radicalized anti-Israel Palestinian majority.

The nation has been inundated with refugees, first from the war in Iraq and most recently the millions fleeing a collapsing Syria. There are nearly 1.5 million refugees scattered throughout the country competing with Jordanians for jobs.

The recent Kerak attacks targeting Jordan’s essential tourist sector highlighted the growing radicalization of Sunni radicals within Jordan. Youth unemployment is near 40%, further adding fuel to radicalization.

Jordan is vulnerable from both within and from without. The Hashemite monarchy, which hails from the Hejaz, is not native to the area. Palestinians, who control the economy but not the government, demographically overwhelm the ruling monarchy’s Beduin brethren. The Muslim Brotherhood has a strong presence in Jordan and over the years has bred many Sunni jihadists who have joined Islamic State or were leaders of al-Qaida.

From the outside Jordan is facing ISIS-linked militants from Iraq and Syria, Hamas in the future from the West Bank, and Iranian-controlled Shi’ite armies to its east and north.

Israel’s next war might not be limited to attacks from Gaza or Lebanon, but could also come from the old front lines of the Golan or Jordan. The 40 years of quiet in the north during the tenure of Assad the father are long over. But is the nearly 50 years of quiet along the Jordanian frontier, that began after the Black September, 1970 struggle between Yasser Arafat and the Hashemites, endangered by instability within the Hashemite regime? Jordan’s greatest threat may be pressure from the do-gooding West encouraging elections in the Palestinian West Bank. Any election now will lead to a Hamas victory, and how long before a Hamas-controlled West Bank would direct its attention to undermining Jordan and encouraging its Palestinian populace to mutiny? As Reuel Marc Gerecht wrote in The Weekly Standard, “Not long ago, I asked a Fatah official how long he thought the Palestinian Authority could survive if Israel stopped supporting its security apparatus.” The answer was, “We could probably last two [months].”

Which means that if there is a PA-Jordanian federation, which falls in some kind of coup or civil war analogous to recent events in Syria, both the West Bank and Jordan could fall under the sway of radical Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, or worse.

To Israel’s north and east, groups ranging from Sunni jihadist Al Nusra to Shi’ite Iranian-controlled Hezbollah, both eye control of the Syrian Golan and desire to reconquer the Israeli Golan.

Conventional thought is that Israel’s next war will come from the north (Lebanon), where hundreds of thousands of missiles can rain on a population that is still not prepared for the carnage, or may like clockwork erupt from the Hamas Islamists.

The Golan may be particularly vulnerable for the first time in a generation due to the presence of the joint armies of the Shi’ite militias from Iraq, Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Syria, all on the doorstep of the Israeli Golan and Jordan.

Attacks on the Israeli Golan from what is left of Syria could be in the form of a long war of attrition, much like the repeated attacks from Gaza over the years, or like the war of attrition on the Suez after the Six Day War. Even if the next war comes from Lebanon, don’t be surprised to see the Golan as a new theater of war, creating a third front.

But it is a Jordanian front which poses the most dangerous challenge. America and Israel have pledged never to let the Jordanian monarchy fall, but it is built on an illegitimate foundation. Add to that a Palestinian majority even more anti-Israel than West Bank Palestinians, the destabilization by millions of poor radicalized refugees from war-torn Iraq and Syria, and Jordan starts looking a lot like pre-2011 Syria.

Even if Israel and the West prop up the carcass of a failed Jordanian monarchy, how long can it last, as it will appear to be another colonialist land grab? Some or none of this may happen, but what is certain is that Israel’s regional vulnerabilities are increasing.

The $38 billion MOU between America to Israel was mainly to compensate Israel for the Obama created disaster of the Iran deal.

It did not address the Obama-created chaos on Israel’s doorstep in Syria, Lebanon, or potentially Jordan, which will require billions more in aid to help stabilize America’s indispensable ally in the region.

What will happen? Who knows. All contingencies must be considered. But what is sure with Iranian ascendancy is that there will be an unpredictable radical Sunni response throughout the Levant.

The author is the director of MEPIN™. He regularly briefs members of Congress, their foreign policy advisers, members of the Knesset and journalists. He regularly briefs Congress on issues related to the Middle East.

January 25, 2017 | 11 Comments » | 49 views

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11 Comments / 11 Comments

  1. Some believe that a PA-Jordanian confederation is the best alternative.

    I can understand why Israel might want a PA-Jordanian confederation as an alternative to a two-state solution; but what would Jordan get out of it, but another civil war?

    This strikes me as wishful thinking. He is inserting an agenda into his observation.

  2. The Bible promises the nation of Israel a huge country from Nile to Euphrates. Such country was unsustainable and utterly unnecessary for Jews in antiquity. “From Nile” includes Sinai, but even Egypt didn’t govern the Sinai in the times of old except for a narrow strip. The Promised Land was a technical impossibility and a burden to maintain. The land wasn’t prized, but consisted of deserts and steppes. If seducing Hebrews with a promise, a takeover of Egypt would be much more attractive.

    Only in the late twentieth century did we understand the rationale behind the Promised Land. Israel critically needs the Sinai for depth of defense against Islamist Egypt. If not for Sinai and the Negev, the initial thrust of the Yom Kippur war would have drowned the Jews in the sea. Now that Egypt acquires missiles and cutting-edge aircraft, the depth of defense the Sinai accords to the Jewish state becomes all the more important.

    The Promised Land includes a Frankenstein state of Lebanon. Jews so far failed to realize the commandment and conquer that land, driving the ever-fighting Lebanese tribes away to Syria – and the Lebanese tribes prove a perpetual source of trouble for Jewish Galilee.

    Jordanian monarchy won’t last long. Palestinian majority will take over that desert state and, unable to create a viable economy there, will turn to nationalism and militancy. Jordan will become a huge Gaza, rife with terrorist training camps. Jordanians will extend their influence to those Arabs whom Israel failed to expel in violation of the commandment, and they became “a trap for you,” “sore in your eye,” and “masters over you.” In order to establish security, Israel would have no choice but to extend toward Euphrates, relocating the hostile Arabs to Iraq. As if prompting Israel to fulfill the commandment, a strong and militant state of Iraq was invaded for no reason and destroyed; now the way for relocating Palestinians and Jordanians is cleared.

  3. CuriousAmerican Said:

    I can understand why Israel might want a PA-Jordanian confederation as an alternative to a two-state solution; but what would Jordan get out of it, but another civil war?

    Survival although in reduced power and circumstances … they could lose their heads.

  4. The $38 billion MOU between America to Israel was mainly to compensate Israel for the Obama created disaster of the Iran deal.

    if folks write foolishness such as this statement it will be difficult to take anything else they say seriously. The 38 billion was simply a raise on the 30 billion of the past… who can say what the extra 8 billion over 10 years is… perhaps its a compensationg for Israel to take the f35 so congress wont investigate whether its a dud, perhaps some is inflation… one thing for sure it has nothing to do with what this author indicated.

  5. I see no advantage to Israel for a jordan pal confed. Both are basic enemies. As Jordan is the stronger of the two then it is foolish to invite their power even closer. It is also foolish to provide an unsupervised link like what happened with gaza and egypt.
    the long term goal of Israel should be the pushing of the pals into JOrdan and possibly even further. This can be accomplished in various ways. A deposing of the hashemites from ISIS or pals with ensuing chaos and terror, Israel goes in restores order and installs a gov like Zahran who offers citizenship and immigration to west bank pals. Another way is that Israel takes advantage of the next war to employ the terror principles which drove the syrians from syria… cause the population of the west bank to flee eastward. We dont really know how much of that terror was real and how much was propaganda to cause flight. The media was likely a propaganda organ like with the Jenin “massacre”. In any case the approach should be to look for, or cause, the opportunity which results in pals flight eastward across the river.
    Israel should have similar goals on all fronts… changing the paradigm to one that rejects the giving land back in war and keeps all land aquired in syria, lebanon, gaza, etc. Make the army profitable. Israel should also consider the possibility of invading resource rich nations under pretext… one such being the funding of terrorism against Jews and Israel. I feel confident that Israel would be capable of taking nations in the ME for their oil if it thought out of the box, like a businessman. If you are invested in defense and war then expand the benefits…its a synergy…. the threats create the army and industry upon which opportunities are sought for aquisition….. otherwise the situation occurs where maintenance of defense is a huge burden… make it pay.

  6. How many of the Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan are Christians?
    Maybe someone could offer a population exchange, make Bethlehem Christian again…

    Ted, I remember, years ago, you thought that was a bad idea.
    If there are still more than a million Iraqi and Syrian Christian refugees in Jordan, why not? Better than Hamas.

    I know, pipe dream, but then my plan for the Hashemites to reclaim Mecca and Medina seems even more a fantasy.

    I just hope the Circassians in Israel and Jordan have a way of communicating with each other,

  7. yamit82 Said:

    The Bible promises the nation of Israel a huge country from Nile to Euphrates.


    Yes , the Sinai provided needed depth, and in my opinion, still does.

    The Torah doesn’t say “The Nile River” but “The Brook of Egypt”which was the closest to Sinai offshoot in the Delta, called Goshen; not the same as the River Nile and is well into the Sinai. Many have made the same error.. I think it’s somewhere in Berashit.

    Avaris, the Hyksos capital was built on this part of the Delta and it often dried up and became a wadi, and was eventually abandoned and became covered with sand..

    I have several accounts of the excavations of Avaris and the general history of the times and area. Absolutely fascinating, especially those discussing the origins of the Hyksos, and the various meanings of their name.

  8. @ Edgar G.:
    Well wadi ya know? Ya learn somepin’ every day! ‘Course then again, maybe it refers to this brook (modern english, king james edition would be brooke, as in brookeing no opposition.)

    Just kidding. I have read that too, actually. But, I liked the item that used to be in the platform of the National Union (Ichud Leumi) that every contiguous area from which Israel is ever attacked should be conquered, cleared of Arabs, settled by Jews, and annexed. No limits.

  9. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    You are some comedian aren’t you….. When you bring up the James Version, is that a subtle hint about my prized Geneva Bible with the Frontespiece printed by the “King’s Printer Robert Barker”… (The King being that self-same James you mention). Do you know that this stupid, evidently homosexual “Royal” was so covetous of “his” bible, that he persecuted those who printed any other version, and condemned all other bibles, and caused a big smuggling racket from the Continent.. (from where I believe that my own Bible may have been smuggled, or at least parts of it)… Experts have said that the James Authorised Version contains about 65-75% of the Geneva..(plagiarism??) Incidentally mine is not only a Geneva, but also a “Breeches”, which makes it definitely used by and for Puritans. It was the one that Shakespeare, Donne, and all the famous writers used, and was the one the Plymouth Brethren brought to America.

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