Impact of Gaza war on Jordan

Since the outbreak of Gaza war, tensed Jordanian-Israeli relations have drifted negatively, culminating in the withdrawal of the Jordanian ambassador to Israel and preventing the Israeli ambassador from returning to Amman in protest of the ongoing war.

While these steps align with Jordan’s diplomatic position, it creates a difficult situation that requires a well-balanced and judicious approach to relations with major allies like the US. Jordan faces serious risks as a consequence of the conflict in Gaza and the escalation in the West Bank that will keep the internal security on alert, as well as risks from the expected escalation in the region, particularly Syria and Iraq, which will shift the attention of the security apparatus to external risks as well.

Jordan’s location, bordering Syria and Iraq, puts it in an immediate defensive position given the potential escalation in the region. With militias, non-state actors and existing threats, it is crucial for Jordan to upgrade its security and defensive approach. As an American ally with a significant Western and American military presence, it is logical to address the risks of Jordan being targeted amid any possible escalation.

On a regional level, the presence of Iranian militias, Hizbollah and the Popular Mobilisation Units on Jordan’s borders in Syria and Iraq is a cause for concern. Movement around the Iraqi-Jordanian borders to block fuel tanks is a clear indication of the risks Jordan faces, even recently with drone rockets falling on the Red Sea in Eilat, which is very close to Aqaba. Jordan has also been directly targeted multiple times from Syria with drones and weapon smuggling. With the regional escalation and the presence of Hizbollah and Iran’s allies, Jordan’s vulnerability increases.

There is no doubt that Jordan’s geographic position will keep Jordan in the middle of any possible regional conflict. Since the start of the Syrian crisis and the ongoing instability in the south of Syria, Jordan has faced serious challenges from drugs and weapons trafficking. The presence of these militias will strategically aim to turn Jordan into a transition hub to smuggle weapons to the West Bank and then to Gaza. This also aligns with the Iranian strategy to counter Israel by putting it in a triangle of threat from the south of Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. There is no doubt tha§t Jordan has been facing serious challenges when it comes to this flow of weapons infiltrating its border, and the narcotrafficking is likely to have been used as cover for weapons trafficking.

There is real concern in Jordan about the consequences of the war in Gaza and the expected escalation in the West Bank. If the current hostilities spark a regional conflict, then Jordan’s geography and its otherwise strategic position create risks and threats from various groups. This is why Jordan must take all the necessary steps to maintain internal stability and protect its borders from a regional conflict that could lead to long-term attacks from rockets and drones. Military and intelligence expertise along with equipment and logistics support are critical. Jordan is a US ally and territory is strategically important in the broader context of this conflict in the case of escalation.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh