The Geopolitics of Jordan

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Sun 2 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

This may not be your day to day typical commentary on the events ongoing in the here and how.

The thing is; I cannot help the relentlessness of the thoughts which flow as I read the latest report by the Congressional Research Services (CRS) repot on Jordan’s major challenges, in AlGhad’s Sunday edition.

According to the report, thousands of Jordanians have travelled to Syria to fight.

On this particular issue, the document thoroughly explores its culmination; starting with the suffocating economic crisis and our dependency on foreign aid; especially the USA’s in the last few years.

This means that our domestic economy is weak, and incapable of pillaring the slightest opportunity to arrive at auto-sufficiency. This is especially so given the rising costs of military allocation, in an unstable environment, which has not seen real peace in decades, and has further disintegrated since the ‘Arab Spring’. Add to the weight of that, the Palestinian Cause, which actually centres and extends throughout multiple tiers of the socio-political dynamic, domestically, as well as the Jordanian foreign policy!

This only the tip of the iceberg. The geopolitical factors of Jordan’s location and the ongoing unrest, which has endured for over half a century now, definitely reflects on Jordanian policies; domestic and foreign, and weighs heavily on Jordan’s strategic decisions.

Typically, this includes national economy, the internal situation, the role of the military and security agencies, the questions of democracy and reforms, notwithstanding the Kingdom’s relationship major powers as well as countries surrounding us; right next to Israel.

Fact is, these geopolitical factors have contributed greatly to the demographic, the shaping of the state, the economy, as well as the determinants of political reformation.

Understanding Jordan’s geopolitics as one of the key elements of the policy making process is vital to understanding the policies themselves.

Nonetheless, when Jordanians discuss politics, political parties too, they seem to either deliberately or mistakenly drop or dismiss this factor.

At best, it is ignored in the superficial pan-nationalist and Islamic rhetoric, instead of considering it as an important variable in the Jordanian political dynamic!

With this particular component out, Jordanians usually lose sight, politically, of what is attainable, and drift away in their political desires, wishes, and sermons, which are extremely detached from reality.

Ironically, Jordanians closely eying the situation in Syria, Egypt, and Saddam Hussein previously, Jamal Abdul Nasser. They are more engaged by the regional, sometime even international, situation than they are to the domestic questions of economy, developing, societal, or even their own personal future.

More so, whenever we inquire as to what Jordanians want, we never consider the geopolitical aspects of the answer. Be it in terms of capacities, economic patterns, or demographic distribution and structure.

We also tend to overlook external conditions when considering internal and foreign policy.

Moreover, we often tie everything to politics, even youth unemployment, issues with public services, which are the responsibility of local councils, as well as the deficit, and the means to consolidating our financials and addressing the growing debt! Everything to us is politics!

The point is; despite the major importance of geopolitical factors here, as it deeply and fundamentally affects the identity of the Jordanians State and society, as well as the individual, we still find near to no thorough studies whatsoever into the socio-political-economy of Jordan from this perspective!

Had there been such studies, we might have been more capable of understanding ourselves, our potential, and what is required of us.

Perhaps too, such studies could shed some light on the some of the aspects regarding the thousands of Jordanian youths who took off to join ISIS and Nusra, in Iraq and Syria, to fight; some of the reasons, mind you, not all of them.

Geography and the ongoing events around us has played a role in the shaping of the identity of at least a percentage of Jordanian youth, their dreams, and fears, as well as their culture and reflexes.

It is an aspect worth exploring, and it could deeply help us understand the spread of the phenomenon.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.