Meanwhile, in Jordan... (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By ARYE ELDAD 04/04/12)
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The world’s attention, and Israel’s as well, is riveted on Syria.
Media outlets and analysts are having a field day with a plethora of
stories: The massacre of civilians, Bashar and Asma al-Assad’s
shopping sprees, the cynical politics of Russia and China, the West’s
refusal to intervene militarily or extend economic or military
assistance, and the benefits that would accrue to Israel and the West
of an end to the Syrian-Iranian axis, along with the fear of massive
amounts of arms reaching Hizbullah.
Meanwhile, in Jordan, dramatic events are quietly occurring under the
radar of the world’s media. The Hashemite regime is in trouble, and
not only because the Palestinians, who comprise 70-80 percent of
Jordan’s population, are waiting for an opportunity to join the “Arab
Spring” and throw off the yoke of autocratic rule in order to enjoy
true democracy. The Beduin are the traditional power base of the
royal family, especially the Beduin of the cities of Karak and Salt,
and they too are threatening to revolt, and for the first time
calling to overthrow the monarchy.
King Abdullah understands that his turn will come after Assad’s.
Perhaps this is why he has prevented the Saudis from transferring
arms to the Syrian rebels via Jordan. Al-Jazeera reported that five
Palestinians have been arrested and charged with attempting to
undermine Hashemite rule. Undoubtedly many arrests have not been
brought to the attention of Al-Jazeera.
A Palestinian blogger who dared criticize the monarchy was stabbed
and seriously wounded. The monarchy has tried to insinuate the attack
stemmed from “immoral behavior” on her part but demonstrations swept
through the local refugee camps, where angry Palestinians are sure
the government tried to silence her.
Compared to what is happening in Syria, this really is not much of a
news story. But compared to what was happening in Jordan even just
one year ago, it is the equivalent of an earthquake.
Abdullah is no Assad, and the Jordanians know he will not massacre
his own citizens; when the riots begin, he is more likely to flee to
London. (The Palestinians do fear a civil war in which the armed-to-
the-teeth Beduin minority tries to defeat the unarmed Palestinian
majority which is unprepared for battle.) A growing number of
Palestinians see this as their big chance. An independent Palestinian
state in Jordan is within reach. Many will not make do with that,
they view it as a first stage in the establishment of a “Greater
Palestine” stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Saudi desert.
Yet the number of voices in Jordan and in the Palestinian- Jordanian
community abroad, mostly in London, calling to adopt a “Jordan is
Palestine” plan is steadily increasing.
They see it as a way out of the dead end in which the Palestinians
are trapped. They understand that faced with the Palestinian
Authority’s internal problems and the never-ending postponement of
local elections, along with the ever-present and openly stated threat
to dismantle the Authority – they are not likely to establish a
Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza with its capital in
In Israel, even the Hashemite monarchy’s greatest supporters and even
those who view Jordan as a strategic asset for Israel know a regime
change there may bring an anti-Israel government to power.
Historically, Israel’s alliance with the Hashemites rested on the
mutual knowledge that the Palestinians were the dangerous enemy of
both. When the circumstances change, our strategy will have to
Israel should be prepared for the day after the king is deposed. If
we do not, but just sit on the sidelines and watch, Jordan may become
another “Hamastan” taking up arms in the unsolved Arab-Israeli
conflict. Only if Israel readies itself for the day a Palestinian
state is established in Jordan will we be able to adapt to the change
and turn it into an opportunity for all the sides involved.
The writer is a member of Israel’s Knesset for the National Union
party. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/04/12)
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