INTO THE FRAY: Alternative Jordans?






For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column

Alternative Jordans? 

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The feasibility of Trump’s “Deal of the Century” will be dramatically impacted by the nature of the regime east of the Jordan River and its prospective stability

It appears this week on the following sites (in alphabetical order):


Several short excerpts:

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact – Sherlock Holmes, “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”. 

Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first rate Israeli security and strategic interestFormer Head of Mossad, Ephraim Halevy, atBetween Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years since the Signing of the Peace Agreement between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”, the Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.

With the media in a furor over the election deadlock and the legal woes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some of the other substantive issues looming on Israel’s overloaded national agenda naturally tend to be sidelined in the ongoing public discourse…One such topic, with potentially far reaching significance that received scant media attention, was briefly broached last week: The relationship with Jordan and the rather ominous prospects for the future…

A vital Israeli interest

The potential volatility and impact along Israel’s longest border were thrown into sharp relief last week by Ephraim Halevy, former Head of Mossad, at a conference marking a quarter-century since the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan…According to Halevy, Israel should lobby the US on the Hashemite Kingdom’s behalf, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the security establishment should be drawing up plans to deal with various possible future alternatives in Jordan… 

“Jordan should be a top Israeli priority…”

Jordan’s King Abdullah, addressing the UN


Somewhat ironically, Halevy made his plea less than twenty four hours after the Jordanian monarch, King Abdallah, addressed the UN, devoting half of his speech to castigating Israel….However, despite Abdallah’s public display of enmity, it is not difficult to understand Halevy’s perspective. After all, under the Hashemite dynasty, Israel’s eastern frontier has, for all intents and purposes, been peaceful since the early 1970s…Indeed, considering the possible Mid-East alternatives, having an ostensibly moderate, pro-Western regime installed in Amman has undeniable appeal.

Teetering on the brink?

The Jordanian economy, heavily dependent on imported energy and foreign aid, has been in dire straits for several years now. Dissatisfaction is seething, producing large scale street riots, government reshuffles and erosion of the monarchy’s longstanding base of support…With unemployment spiraling to almost 20% , and the specter of decreasing foreign aid, the king is even in danger of losing the support of his traditional base—the Jordanian Bedouin tribes…. Thus, in March 2019, a protest movement, identified with Jordan’s large Bani Hassan tribe, issued an unusually harsh statement against the King, accusing him and his family of behaving like “demigods” and demanding a change of regime.

Clamor for regime change

Significantly, other tribes…also reportedly expressed support for the Bani Hassan statement, and although some tribal dignitaries renounced it, declaring support for the king, it caused considerable consternation in official circles…

Protests in Amman (2018) in response to the proposed revision of the income tax law, and resulting price hikes.

Limited “shelf life”?

It seems therefore, that Halevy has ample grounds for his concern. However, the fact that his diagnosis—of how tenuous the Hashemite dynasty’s hold on power might be—is accurate, this does not necessarily mean that his prescribed remedy—attempting to prop up a floundering monarch—should be adopted…Accordingly, for the authors of Israel’s national strategy, the prudent working assumption must be that the Hashemite regime has a limited—albeit not necessarily known—“shelf-life”.

Jordan, regime-change and Trump

The instability in Jordan and the prospect of other “various alternatives” (i.e. regime change) assume heightened importance in light of the rumored publication of the long-awaited Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century”, purported to bring the century plus old conflict between Jew and Arab over the Holy Land, to an end…Although the details of the “Deal” are as yet obscure, it would appear the Jordan is slated to play a major role in it—grudgingly or otherwise. Accordingly, the feasibility of the “Deal”—indeed its acceptability—will be dramatically impacted by the nature of the regime east of the Jordan River and its prospective stability (or lack thereof)…This takes us back to the crucial strategic importance for Israel of the highlands of Judea-Samaria and the Jordan Valley…., it will matter greatly if Jordan is ruled by a government that strives to reign in forces hostile to Israel, or one that is indifferent to their aggressive intent—or worse, is complicit with it.After all, should the Trump plan entail significant territorial concessions, Israel may well find itself in a situation in which it will have to contend with a huge expanse of hostile territory, stretching from the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv to the border of Iraq—and perhaps beyond…

As usual your talkbacks/comments/critiques welcome,

Best wishes,



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