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Alliance amid uncertainty: Jordan’s strategic response to regional threats

Apr 22,2024 - Last updated at Apr 22,2024

There was no doubt that Israel would respond to the Iranian attacks, but it is likely to opt for more focused and intelligence-based operations targeting sensitive targets, rather than adopting a style similar to Iran’s. However, it may not be the only response targeting Iranian assets, interests in the region or even within Iran itself.

Consequently, the risks of regional confrontation are escalating, with Iranian drones crossing the region, seemingly launched from Iran in a provocative move aimed at breaking the taboo of attacking Israel.

While Iran felt compelled to respond, this has already reshaped the entire regional landscape. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel was already under pressure due to the situation in Gaza and the risks associated with operations in Rafah. Following the Iranian attack, Israel’s security once again takes precedence for many international actors, reminiscent of the post-7th of October scenario. The current pressure on Netanyahu is to avoid sparking a regional war, but Gaza is clearly not the top priority and an operation in Rafah may occur soon. Additionally, the security concerns of Israeli geography, including Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, are now at the forefront of Israel’s security agenda.

From Jordan’s perspective, from the start of the Gaza conflict, there has been a sense of the danger of escalation to a larger regional crisis, already evident in Syria, Lebanon and the Red Sea.

The Iranian attack has heightened Jordan’s awareness of the risk of being caught in such a conflict. This prompted His Majesty King Abdullah to emphasise clearly that Jordan’s priority is its own security, stability and the safety of its people, particularly following missiles and drones being intercepted in Jordanian airspace.

Jordan is well aware of the conflict’s potential consequences and is determined to defend its sovereignty.

While Iran could have launched its attacks from the territories of its allies in Syria or Lebanon, it deliberately chose to pass over Jordanian airspace.

This is significant given that Iranian-backed groups in Syria have attempted to infiltrate northern Jordan with drugs and weapons in recent months. 

The concentration of the attack in Jordan underscores the real risk it poses. Jordan’s strategy is to send a firm message that it will oppose any violation of its sovereignty.

As such, Jordan’s reaction should be viewed from the perspective of self-defence. Jordan insists on the principle of non-violation of its airspace and territory, as do the Saudis. However, in this case, these countries are defending their airspace and, by extension, their national security. It is a defensive posture, not an act of aggression, and Iran’s actions are compelling these countries to coordinate their actions to safeguard their national security. It is not necessarily an anti-Iran alliance, but rather a defensive one, driven by Iran’s choices. Jordan’s focus on the drones passing through its airspace sends a clear message, and any reaction is likely to be coordinated with allies. Hence, it is not so much an anti-Iranian alliance as it is a defensive coalition.

Furthermore, Jordan must remain vigilant to all regional risks that could potentially impact its security and stability. In the ever-changing geopolitical landscape of the Middle East, unforeseen challenges can arise from various sources. Therefore, maintaining a strong and solid alliance with its regional and international allies is imperative for Jordan. Collaborative efforts are essential to counter any potential threats that may emerge from different directions and through various means. By fostering strong partnerships and cooperation with its allies, Jordan can enhance its ability to mitigate risks and safeguard its security interests effectively.

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