While attending a joint military exercise between the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and the UAE Armed Forces in Abu Dhabi last week, His Majesty King Abdullah and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan delivered a clear message on the shared goals between the two countries, and the strong bilateral relations.
While Jordan’s relations with the UAE have always been excellent, it is highly important to take a strategic approach to the development and continuation of the engagement based on mutual interests. This approach should form part of a wider Jordanian strategy to redevelop essential and effective relationships with key regional countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and even Syria.
The task of rebuilding relations with Iraq to build a strong understanding is extremely important. The mutual willingness to work together is fundamental in order to ensure there are positive outcomes on both sides. There are bound to be obstacles, and the road to achieving worthwhile outcomes is always long and difficult. However, both sides need to push through the resistance by understanding the importance of their cooperation based on balanced and stable long-term interests.
While Iraq needs to take a more productive approach to Arab countries, especially Jordan and the Arab Gulf countries, Jordan also needs to do more work to facilitate a path through the bureaucratic impediments to positioning Jordan as a regional hub for Iraqi business.
Antiterrorism coordination could be used to build trust between the two countries’ intelligence organisations, and the people of both countries can come together by looking to the past where the people and the countries have acted as allies and use this to build a strong future together.
The common security challenges should always be the base of a solid and trusting relationship, although the Iranian influence on Iraqi politics could be the reason why Iraq’s position reflects Iran’s interests rather than Iraq’s. However, the dynamics of Iraq today and the economic difficulties faced by Iran are laying bare the divergence of the two countries’ interests.
In any trust-building process, the role of mediators, second track engagement and the political perspectives of the decision makers are important. While the ideal future may be a long way down the road, geography mandates Jordan and Iraq must engage more deeply and rebuild their relationship in order to achieve fruitful and successful futures for both countries.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh