Gaza war: Impact on region, Jordan

US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli war Cabinet emphasised the strong US support for Israel’s military operations and demonstrated the potential for regional challenges. The visit indicated that this is a long-term endeavour that may extend for months and potentially expand to other regions outside of Gaza.

Since the first Gulf War, this is the first war in the region with support from the Democratic Party in the US. In recent decades, it has been the Republican Party that sponsors war, with the wars in Iraq under president George HW Bush and later George W. Bush. This is the first time that a Democrat administration has sponsored a war instead of seeking peace. It also means the security of Israel will be an ongoing policy issue as we head into a US Presidential election year next in 2024 — as the Democrats are depriving the Republicans from making military support for Israel a point of difference in Foreign Policy.

US support might even extend to the invasion of Gaza with troops on the ground, although this does not seem to be a priority at this stage. With the second week of the war on Gaza, a human crisis is growing, and infrastructure is being targeted, weakening Hamas before any military invasion. Ground operations are inevitable as the Israelis seek to change the geography of Gaza, but the operations are likely to be divided into phases, with an initial focus on the north of Gaza, then moving to the centre to divide the territory.

The recent release of two American hostages suggests that Hamas might be willing to compromise, but this move is unlikely to put an end to the war. It gives some hope that a back-channel dialogue could lead to a truce and eventually contain the conflict and prevent it from expansion.

Hizbollah and its allies are trying to send a clear message as part of a strategy to get Israel to postpone the invasion of Gaza. With the Houthi rocket attack on the US Navy and the targeting of an American base in Iraq are to demonstrate the potential threat to US interests in the region. Hizbollah is also actively asserting its presence and demonstrating its willingness to fight. The situation in the north of Israel appears to be escalating, and a confrontation with Hizbollah could be imminent in the coming days.

The protests in Jordan are also increasing, and it is critical for Jordan to adopt an effective approach to address the anger and frustration of the people. They also need to consider the risks of escalation in the region and the potential impact on Jordan, especially with the expected escalation in the West Bank. It is crucial to have a strategy in place to counter these risks and their consequences.

The issue of population transfer and the potential displacement of people from Gaza to Egypt is also a realistic risk. It is a concern that countries like Jordan and Egypt share, as they would continue to bear the consequences, as they have for many years. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza could potentially lead to a permanent population transfer, requiring a practical solution from the international community.

It is evident that Jordan faces significant challenges in terms of border security, terrorism, criminality and the added impacts of the events in Gaza and the West Bank. These issues pose a threat to Jordan’s national security and demand immediate attention. Prioritising internal security measures and addressing the concerns and frustrations of people can pave the way for a safer and more stable future for Jordan. It is essential for Jordan to implement effective security and communication strategies while collaborating with regional and international partners to confront these challenges head-on, ensuring both security and stability for the country.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaile