With increasing tensions and complexity in the region, Jordan should focus on strong bilateral relations with Syria and Iraq as the first priority of national security.
There is no doubt that regional politics are heating up even further, and Jordan’s ties with the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, have changed regarding economic support and aid. The evolving Saudi role in the region can have a negative impact on Jordan, as this might drive regional settlement and normalization of relations with Israel which will lead to marginalize any Jordanian role in the region.
While Jordanian relations with the US remain strong, American priorities have shifted dramatically and are built on strategic and economic common interest. The distinct deterioration of relations between Israel and Jordan puts more pressure on Amman and could also lead to negative outcomes, not least in developments around Palestine.
In this evolving environment, Jordan must change the way it manages its political strategy, how it communicates and how it engages in the region. Seeking better relations with Damascus and Baghdad is no longer a luxury, and is a necessary measure to position Jordan to influence how the crises are addressed in order to protect the future economic and security stability.
Jordan needs to take another look at how it engages in regional politics and implement a new strategy based on a clear objective. This is unlikely to be successful with the current mentality and protagonists that led to the deterioration between Jordan and its neighboring countries, particularly Iraq and Syria. We have seen many officials responsible for these issues openly declaring anti Syrian and Iraqi positions.
The same approach and tools are unlikely to be effective in a new phase of common strategic interests with our neighbors. It is a huge challenge for Jordan and needs a clear vision, the right tools and a high level of political flexibility. It is time to change faces in Jordan, time for new strategic minds to take part in the decision making process.
These changes are needed if we are to face the coming challenges. We must communicate to our neighbors that we are undertaking this change and are looking to establish and build strong relations with our neighbors and the region.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh