Jordan’s Effort to Establish Close Relationship with Iran Worries Israel


Foreign Affairs

Tel Aviv: While the political chaos in Israel continues due to the coalition effort to make changes in the judicial system, Israel is facing another very worrying development. Jordan, an ally of the US, is evaluating to establish close relations with Iran. This in spite of the fact that Washington is helping Jordan with annual funds that are also channelled to enhance its military capabilities.

This surprising development is explained by two parallel processes – the continued withdrawal of the US from the Middle East and Gulf and the new alliance between Russia –Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Israeli ministry of defence did not immediately responded to request of comment. Maj. General (ret.) Amos Gilad told Raksha Anirveda that all the Arab countries in the region understand that they cannot rely on the US and

that being friends with Iran is best for them. Iran’s dream is to get control on Jordan as it did in Lebanon and with some success in Syria. Add to this statements of the extreme right in the Israeli government and you have the full picture.

Gilead served in many high-ranking positions in the Israeli defence forces (IDF), among them as Head of the Military Intelligence Research Division and responsible for the Overall National Intelligence Assessment.

Last month, Israeli finance minister who is also a minister in the defence claimed in a public appearance that the Palestinian people are an invention, while standing in front of a map of Greater Israel that showed Jordan as part of Israel.

Gilad assessed that the security relations between Jordan and Israel will continue.

According to a report in the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the agreement signed on March 10, 2023 between Saudi Arabia and Iran to renew their relations after a seven-year hiatus, sparked a debate in Jordan about the implications of this agreement for the kingdom’s own relations with Iran and regarding the option of

following Saudi Arabia’s example.

At the same time, Jordan took a cautious position vis-à-vis Iran over the years, due to the threats posed to it by this country. King Abdullah warned about Iran’s efforts to spread in the region and create a territorial continuum extending from Iran to Lebanon, which he referred to in 2004 as the Shiite Crescent. The civil war in Syria and Iran’s growing involvement there exacerbated Jordan’s concerns about Iran and about the presence of pro-Iranian militias on the Syria-Jordan border, which the kingdom regards as a grave strategic threat.

Moreover, in the past few years these militias have been involved in attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons from Syria into Jordan. According to the MEMRI report in the summer of 2022, the Arab press reported that indirect talks were underway between Jordan and Iran, brokered by Iraq, in an attempt to reduce the tension between the two

countries. These talks were held against the backdrop of the July 16, 2022 Jeddah Summit between US President Joe Biden and the leaders of nine Arab countries including Jordan, which according to media reports was meant to establish an Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran.

In response to these reports, Jordanian officials made statements to appease Iran, and articles in the Jordanian press called on the kingdom to avoid joining such an alliance and even urged it to warm its relations with Iran. According to the report, the discussion about the necessity of bettering relations with Iran also appeared in the Jordanian media. The government was pushed by a number of columnists to reconsider the relationship with Iran, get closer to it and even designate an ambassador to Tehran. However, other authors urged caution and called

for cautious action based on Jordan’s interests. They also urged waiting for Iran to demonstrate its good intentions and quit posing a threat to the kingdom.

Israeli sources said that improving relations with Jordan will enable Tehran to create a presence in the kingdom, as part of the Iranian major plan to encircle Israel. This plan has so far resulted in a major Iranian presence in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza strip.

According to the US department of state, peaceful, safe, and prosperous Middle East is a shared goal between the United States and Jordan, who is an important US partner on a wide range of regional security concerns. In order to improve border and maritime security, arms transfers, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism, the United States and

Jordan collaborate more closely. Jordan also takes part in the fight against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and their local and international affiliates alongside the United States and the Global Coalition.

The United States and Jordan have a 1996 Status of Forces Agreement, a 2006 Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, and a 2021 Defence Cooperation Agreement, reflecting the strategic importance of Jordan to

US foreign policy in the region.

Dr Mordechai Kedar, a specialist on middle-east issues told Raksha Anirveda that the intention of Jordan is not surprising. The kingdom sees the new relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the political chaos in Israel and came to the conclusion that Iran can be a very strong ally, especially after the strengthening of relations between Tehran and Moscow. Add to this the declining presence of the US in the region and you have the explanation why Jordan is looking to Iran as a new ally.