How Jordan is facing up to Iranian terrorism

Amman, Jordan (Photo by Shutterstock)

Jordan is facing squirmishes and attacks on its borders with Iraq and Syria. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman explains what it means for the wider Middle East.

The spread of Tehran militias along the Iraqi and Syrian borders with Jordan's capital, Amman, and the start of squirmishes, and then attacks, represent the beginning of a campaign that Iran is running in the Middle East.

It is not the first time that Jordan's King Abdullah bin Al-Hussein has warned of the Iranian threat to his country. A decade ago, the leader of the Hashemite Kingdom warned that the rise of a Shiite crescent in the Middle East between its borders and the Mediterranean Sea would engulf Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and perhaps Jordan. What the Jordanian king was referring to is the network of militias affiliated with the Iranian regime under the supervision of the Revolutionary Guards and within it the striking Quds Force, led at that time by Qassem Soleimani.

Since this historic warning, most of the Iranian goals in the Fertile Crescent have been achieved, except for one. Strategically, Iraq, with the exception of Kurdistan, is in the grip of the Revolutionary Guards, other Iranian militias, and the Iraqi Brigades, led by Hezbollah.

In addition, most of Syria is languishing under the Assad regime and the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran), and Lebanon have fallen into the grip of Hezbollah, while Hamas govern the Gaza Strip. Both of these oganisations are allied with Tehran. Moreover, the so-called Khomeini Crescent has become a practical reality, and Iran is preparing to pounce on countries outside this region of the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula. However, Saudi Arabia is still outside the Iranian umbrella.

This is what King Abdullah meant when he announced that militias linked to Iran are now attacking his country's borders. This dangerous statement raises many questions for an Arab country that has not fought a foreign war since 1970, when columns of tanks entered by the late President Hafez al-Assad entered to support armed organizations during their clash with the Hashemite Army. Jordan has been blessed with stability for many decades, and it emerged, from what was called the Arab Spring, safely and unified. What are these militias that attack its borders, and why are they doing it? What are their strategies and objectives, and how can these militias be terminated?

Iranian goals towards Jordan

Tehran has clear strategic goals in the Middle East, summed up in its control of the Fertile Crescent and Yemen in the first stage, and as a prelude to controlling the Arabian Peninsula in a second stage.

Jordan is located geopolitically between the two main goals. It is strategically important, for whoever controls it gains borders and passages to all those countries Jordan is also at a historical intersection between the Levantine desert, the two rivers, Palestine and the Hijaz which is the west of Saudi Arabia, and includes the cities of Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, Tabuk, Yanbu, Taif and Baljurashi, It is the historical and ideological goal of the Khomeinists to capture this territory.

The strategic logic is likely to be that after completing control of the Fertile Crescent, the Khomeinists will proceed to control the Jazira, and the "Khomeinist Empire" must weaken, Jordan will then fall into its regional network, to complete the first part of its expansion.

Defensively, the Iranian leadership wants to bring down the Jordanian front, which can communicate with the Sunnis who oppose Iranian hegemony in Iraq, as well as in Jordan because the US, Britain and the Western alliance have important bases in the north and east of the Hashemite Kingdom. From Tehran's perspective, Jordan may be the starting points against the movements and sites of the Pasdaran in the two states or the two colonies of Iran.

Protecting the bridge between Iran and the Mediterranean requires excluding Jordan from the regional equation. Geopolitically, Jordan is an extension of the depth of the Jazira, just as the province of Anbar in Iraq is to its east.

In the view of Iranian military strategic thinking, Jordan is also considered the northern gate to the Hijaz, and therefore to Mecca and Medina, while Yemen is considered to be the southern gate to the Two Holy Mosques.. As for Palestine, Jordan, according to Tehran, is a country that might secure geographical access to Israel, Palestine , the West Bank, the Negev, and Gaza.

Obstacles of the Iranian strategy on Jordan

But the Iranian strategy will mean it will have to overcome several obstacles. with regards to Jordan

First: there is the composition of its people. The overwhelming majority are Sunni Arabs, and a Shiite group of a size that enables Tehran to penetrate a sect to establish an organization similar to Hezbollah or the "Houthis" militias is absent.

Second: The government has a base close to the royal family and it has the support of the armed forces.

Third: There is a special Western sympathy with Jordan and the country has close historical relations with Britain and the United States. The Western alliance will act immediately if this Arab ally is exposed to an Iranian aggressive action.

Fourth: Any Iranian or pro-Tehran move towards the border with Israel via Jordan will prompt the Israelis to launch operations as they do in Syria and sometimes in Iraq.

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Sunday, 26 March 2023