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Foiled smuggling plots: Jordan’s ongoing battle against regional threats

May 20,2024 - Last updated at May 20,2024

Confirming ongoing attempts, recent news reports that Jordan has foiled an attempt to smuggle weapons into the country at the end of March, destined for a cell within the Kingdom. There is no doubt that Jordan has been facing serious and critical threats since the onset of the Syrian crisis, especially with the presence of militias near the Jordanian borders.

These militias initially posed a significant physical threat and later have been facilitating the smuggling of drugs into Jordan, which then evolved into weapons smuggling.

From a strategic perspective, Jordan’s geography has always been of interest to Iran, particularly since the fall of the Iraqi regime. The rise of militias that have replaced nation-states has allowed Iran to infiltrate countries like Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.

By building proxies, Iran aims to surround Israel with threats from Gaza, southern Lebanon, and the West Bank, making Jordanian territory a target for Iranian activities, including attempts to send weapons and infiltrate the country as a staging ground.

These continuous attempts have taken various forms over the past years, with narcotrafficking emerging as an efficient tactic amid economic difficulties.

Since the war in Gaza began, the situation has taken a different turn. Last December, a militia attempted to smuggle weapons into Jordan and sought to clash with the Jordanian Army. Advanced weapons, including rocket launchers, were seized.

Furthermore, during Ramadan, there was a systematic approach to antagonise Jordan and accuse it of not doing enough to support Gaza, despite Jordan’s official stance being one of the most advanced.

The escalation during Ramadan was suspicious, with attempts to create hotspots clashing with security forces in Rabyeh neighbourhood in west Amman, under the pretext of besieging the Israeli embassy, trying to turn peaceful demonstrations into something more violent.

This was also evident from continuous calls from external voices urging Jordanian society to mobilise into the streets and obstruct Western interests in Jordan.

Notably, an Iraqi Islamic resistance group issued a statement claiming they were ready to supply weapons to 12,000 Jordanians.

Since the night of the Iranian attack on Israel, Jordan has also been targeted by Iran and its allies, facing attacks and accusations of shooting down drones and missiles that violated its airspace.

It seems that Iran’s battle strategy has shifted from attacking Israel to targeting Jordan. There appear to be two Irans; the Iran of the IRGC, which operates on the ground, and Iranian diplomacy, which diplomatically blames others for not being open towards Iran and its objectives.

The risks to Jordan from the region might not abate easily, given the interests of various criminal and terrorist groups, along with Iranian-backed militias that sponsor drugs and weapons trafficking.

Ensuring the stability of Jordan is paramount. It is crucial to highlight to Jordanians the nature of these threats and risks, while also sending clear messages to those who seek to make Jordan an arena for their activities.

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