Jordan participated in thwarting Iran but it's not enough to thaw cold peace

Opinion: There is too much bad blood between the Amman Palace and Netanyahu; Sunni Jordan stands up to Shiite Iran, refusing to come under its influence or become a protectorate of neighboring Iraq
Smadar Perry |
King Abdullah II of Jordan was MIA on the night of Iran's attack on Israel. He was neither seen nor heard and the Jordanian's military operations seemed to be conducted without him.
It appears that the superior commander of Jordan's security forces, its military and intelligence, was working behind the scenes. Jordan's headlines the next day reflected a case of UFOs appearing in the sky over the kingdom, which, just like in neighboring Israel, were successfully shot down without causing any damage except a few fragments.
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יירוטים בשמי עמאן
יירוטים בשמי עמאן
Iranian attack intercepted over Jordan
(Photo: Reuters)
It is easy to assume that images of Iranian missiles flying over the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, which is under Jordanian guardianship, were shocking to Amman.
Even before the Iranian strike which passed over Jordanian air space, the king said he would not allow the Iranians, "to play" in his territory as they do in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In an interview with Arab media outlets and to a Jordanian newspaper, Abdullah expressed his discontent with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) directing pro-Iran militias in Iraq against Jordan.
At once, the Jordanian capabilities were exposed. Its air force jets defended Jordanian air space and attacked the Iranian drones. For a moment, the cooperation between the kingdom and Israel, both overt and covert, returned to its finest days under King Hussein and Itzhak Rabin.
But the Amman court still harbors animosity toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One pundit defined the bilateral peace agreement between the countries, the cooperation deals on gas, energy and water, as "papers stuck deep in a forgotten drawer, accumulating dust."
Still, Jordan's planes took off from their bases to shoot down drones targeting Israel. The scant information available shows most of the incoming threats from Iran were shot down before reaching israel's borders. Jordan announced it was closing its airspace and suspending flights at the Amman airport at the exact same time as Israel suspended flights from Ben Gurion International Airport.
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עבדאללה מלך ירדן
עבדאללה מלך ירדן
King Abdullah II of Jordan
(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Abdullah cannot be accused of a sudden love for Netanyahu. A Jordanian government spokesperson made clear in a statement that "the steps Jordan is taking are necessary amid the unusual situation."
In consultations, the Sunni kingdom decided to act against Shiite Iran, so as not to become a protectorate of neighboring Iraq and to prevent any freedom of activity from the IRGC on Jordanian soil as they enjoy in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, or to adversely influence its subjects as they have done with Islamic Jihad, Hamas and now even Sudan, where Iranians were buying influence with massive weapons' supplies.
No doubt Jordan's decision to side with Israel against Iran could be seen as a huge surprise. This interesting cooperation brings optimism and could indicate increased chances for improved Israel-Saudi relations.
But, barring a miracle, a shift in the relations between the palace in Amman and the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem remains unlikely. Jordan hopes Israel would at least, now, continue to supply it with water and remove obstacles for trucks carrying produce to pass into the West Bank. Israel is aware of the dire economic situation in Jordan, but when both capitols harbor ill feelings toward each other, their long-lasting differences would be hard to solve even after Jordan's role in thwarting Iran's attack.
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