The potential for a NATO presence in Jordan

Recently, news has been circulating about the possibility of a NATO office being opened in Jordan, which would be the first in the Arab world. Although Jordan is a strong NATO ally, and one that perhaps enjoys the most privileged non-member status, at least in the region, still, this would be an important strategic development for both Jordan and NATO.

Jordan, which faces new security challenges with militias on its borders, narcotrafficking, weapons smuggling and the potential resurgence of terrorism needs to explore all the possible options to enhance its border security and counter-terrorism capacity. At the same time, the announcement of such a step comes at a very delicate moment where NATO is engaged by supporting Ukraine in the war with Russia. In that context, a NATO office in Jordan would also serve as a further ring fence of Russia’s military presence in Syria, which Jordan has been dealing with for almost a decade.

Historically, Jordan is considered a trusted and reliable partner for NATO, with ongoing cooperation for many years, so the opening of a NATO office might not change much. However, it could also increase cooperation between Jordan and NATO, particularly with security issues related to Jordan in the southern region, as the office will by default act as an operational regional hub. Further, any expansion of NATO will be viewed in the broader context including the new strategic approach by NATO, which is not limited to its deterrence model, and second is the need for NATO to expand its network of allies and convince them of the benefits of cooperation and the commitment of the NATO to the security and stability of its partners.

Improving relations with NATO and enhancing the effectiveness of cooperation is highly important for Jordan. It represents a chance for Jordan to improve its military, defence, and technological capacities. This comes at a time when Jordan needs strong allies to face its continuous security challenges, but at the same time it can be also important for the role that Jordan might play in the region and amongst its neighbours.

Enhancing the security borders of Jordan, cyber defence and increasing its capacity to confront transborder organised criminal groups as well as its anti-terrorism capabilities should be at the top of the NATO-Jordan cooperation agenda. It also represents an important opportunity for Jordan to keep the sensitive national security issues that matter to Jordanians on the international agenda, including the Syrian refugee issue in Jordan. Since the change of priorities at the international level, Jordan has been standing alone facing this issue. A strategic partnership with NATO will give Jordan a better position to advocate its case and seek valid options to address this problem.

There are many advantages for both Jordan and NATO with a move like this. For Jordan, at this critical stage of the threats it is facing, it is strategically important to increase its cooperation with NATO and benefit positively on all levels, militarily, security-wise and politically.