Jordan has recently issued several official statements regarding Iran. From accusations of sponsoring militias that represent a threat to Jordan’s national security to messages that seek to contain the relations with Iran. However, for a country like Jordan it is important to adopt a diplomatic strategy that aims for zero conflict with any country. The power of Jordan is a model based in power politics and this means that Jordan should have no conflict with any protagonist especially in the region and neighbouring countries.
Calling on Iran to change its attitude towards Jordan could also be interpreted as a request for Tehran to approach Jordan more positively. But all bilateral relationships have two sides and Jordan needs to understand how to deal with Iran. Both countries have a strong security heritage but after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, it was clear that Jordan needed to think differently and take a new approach that secures its interests and national security.
Much of the recent Jordanian commentary on Iran is related to the situation on its northern borders, with the increased risks around drug smuggling and illegal penetration of borders. A different approach could encourage Iran to adopt policies that dispel Jordan’s fears around this risk and could become an important milestone in building good relations. But any improved relations would need to begin with containing the deterioration and neutralising any disputes.
A unilateral policy from Jordan is also important in dealing with Iran. Opening channels of dialogue is also critical. With the presence of a diplomatic mission in Jordan, and full recognition from Iran means that Jordan should at least do the same. The incidents that caused the withdrawing of the Jordanian ambassador from Tehran is over, so perhaps it is time for restoration of full diplomatic relation as one of the key steps to build stable and healthy relations.
At the same time, Jordan realises that its relations with Israel is always one of the major issues when it comes to having a full active relationship with Iran. From a security perspective, Iran would see Jordan as the missing part of the puzzle that it needs to surround Israel with threats. This has been a key part of Iran’s approach to Israel for many years with allies in Lebanon and Gaza, adding Jordan as a hub of activity to cause trouble for Israel in the West Bank.
Jordan needs a new strategy based on three levels. First, an advanced intelligence plan to manage the risks on the border with the current increasing level of criminality and terrorism in Syria and Iraq. Second, fast military intervention to address the sources of risks, Finally, and above all, active diplomacy capable of opening channels with all protagonists in the region, based on mutual interests and zero conflict. With this strategy, Jordan can at least manage the risks that threaten its national security and transform the country to a political hub with greater potential for mediation and reconciliation activities that is highly needed at this stage across region, including Syria Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh