There was no good reason for Jordan to sever its relations with Tehran, except the expectation of greater financial aid from the Arab Gulf states, says Fahd al-Khitan in Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad
by Fahd al-Khitan
No sooner had the government’s decision to recall the Jordanian Ambassador from Tehran ‘Abdullah Abu-Rumman been announced, than I felt compelled to refer to the news to find out if Tehran had adopted any new position towards Jordan or any other Arab country that warranted such a measure.
But there was nothing of the sort, of course. So the surprise element in the timing of the decision was interesting. More interesting still was the government’s statement justifying and explaining its stance. It was based on a narrative of events since the start of the crisis between Iran and the Gulf states after signing the nuclear agreement with the West; it went through the attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran; and it recalled Iran’s provocative policies against the Gulf states and its role in Syria and in Iraq.
Almost the same statement was issued by the government when it summoned Tehran’s ambassador to Amman and delivered Jordan’s protest against his country’s behavior in the region, as well as Jordan’s strong denunciation of the attack on the Saudi Embassy. The Jordanian government confined itself to this measure at the time; it did not take the step of recalling or withdrawing its ambassador to Iran as a number of other Arab and Gulf states had done in solidarity with Saudi Arabia.
The Jordanian political position was adopted on the basis of an inaccurate assessment. Based on a number of realistic factors, the belief was that summoning the Iranian ambassador to Amman would be sufficient to appease our Gulf brothers, without any need to take further steps. But it later emerged that Jordan’s delay in following other countries was unacceptable to certain Gulf states that had hoped for stronger support from Jordan in the open confrontation with Iran.
From the latest Saudi moves in the region, and the Saudi king’s visits to Egypt and Turkey, it emerged that there was need for a Jordanian initiative that would demonstrate the credibility of the Jordanian position in support of the Gulf states and their hard line towards Iran.
This is the context for this ‘delayed’ step by the government. Recalling the ambassador was a retroactive expression of solidarity with the Gulf states, rather than a response to any new developments in relations with Iran. And it is this in particular that has raised public questions regarding the motives behind this latest step. For many people believe that Jordan did not take it when there was some rationale for it months ago, but has now taken it when these justifications have disappeared – in fact, when Tehran is opening its doors wide before investment companies from all countries, and is conducting indirect talks with certain Gulf states over the Yemeni crisis, as well as working side-by-side with Gulf diplomacy in Geneva [regarding the Syrian crisis].
But whatever Jordan’s motives for adopting this position may be, there are those who link it to major Gulf initiatives towards Amman so as to help it overcome the economic predicament it is facing and the exhausting regional burden that it is bearing.
Is recalling the ambassador cause for optimism regarding imminent Gulf backing for Jordan? Or are there other steps still on the list of Gulf demands in this regard?