here are many security challenges facing Jordan today, predominately focussed on the resurgence of terrorist groups in the southern area of Syria. This growth, mainly of Daesh, puts new pressure on the security landscape that could have broader impacts on the country itself. Particularly given that it comes at a time when criminal groups, and armed militias are already established in the area, putting pressure on the security services to counter the increasing drugs and weapons trafficking.
Jordan has been experiencing continuous threats since the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, particularly from terrorism and its evolution from Al Qaeda to Daesh. However, these new risks from Syria are quite new, very challenging and expected to evolve negatively going forward.
On one of Jordan’s other borders, it is important to keep an eye on the increasing escalation in the West Bank. As part of this, there is the challenge of how to manage relations with Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel. Netanyahu once again called for building a fence along the entire border with Jordan to prevent infiltrations into his country, citing the success of other similar fences, like the one with Egypt that according to him prevented millions of infiltrators from Africa.
While this idea is not new, it goes back to 2012 as part of a vision to surround all of Israel with a fence, his comments were supported by the Israeli defence minister, who suggested few months ago that Israel should build a new security barrier along the border with Jordan, as he believes that “terror organisations have identified [the West Bank] as a weak spot, and direct many resources there for the purpose of attacks”. The official Israeli narrative insists that these security measures are needed to prevent most gun-smuggling attempts.
This approach from Israel might not be interpreted positively from a Jordanian security perspective, but it also reveals the similar threat that Jordan itself is facing. While there have been concerted efforts to protect the Jordanian borders, smuggling weapons and explosives are becoming increasingly common.
These shared risks and challenges that many countries in the region are facing require more cooperation and engagement to facing them. Jordan’s major challenge is protecting its internal stability while defending against this expected return of terrorism and fast-growing criminality. This requires a new security vision that ensures security services have the capability to identify and address the complexity of these sophisticated threats.
This security vision should be based on a clear understanding of the new risk protagonists and the nature of change. It requires a long-term vision, political determination and continuous concrete actions to counter these risks, from enhancing the capacity of the security apparatus to evolve and address criminal and terrorism threats, focusing again on the deradicalisation process, and re-building relations with neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia, which faces the same risks, at least when it comes to narco-trafficking at this stage.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh