Saturday

7th Dec 2019

EU concerned about potential instability in Jordan

  • King Abdullah II is known abroad for his high society wife, Queen Rania (r) (Photo: World Economic Forum)

With all eyes on violence in Syria, some EU countries are becoming increasingly concerned about the risk of instability in neighbouring Jordan.

A senior EU diplomatic contact told this website on Wednesday (8 February) that the Arab Spring is taking a nasty turn inside one of the West's main allies in the region. "The problem now is if things get worse and spill into Jordan," the source said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Ruled by King Abdullah II - better known abroad for his high society wife, Queen Rania - the Bedouin tribes which form the bulk of Jordanian society and its security forces have been grumbling about the royal clique's monopoly on wealth and power for the past year.

In recent weeks, they stopped calling for reform and started calling for the king to step down.

"The mood has shifted quite sharply. There is a loss of support in the Bedouin bedrock which is turning quite antagonistic at this stage ... I am not saying it's on the brink of instability, but there has been a qualitative change," Alastair Crooke, a former EU advisor on Middle East security affairs who now runs an NGO in Lebanon, told EUobserver.

"It's another artificial state. It's a very fragile country," Ali Ben-David, a defence expert for Israel's Channel 10 TV station, said.

With Jordan currently home to some 750,000 reguees from Iraq, including some Islamist radical groups, he added that if Jordan begins to unravel, it could create a security nightmare for Israel. "Tens of thousands of terrorists in Iraq lost their job and they are looking for their next target ... If things begin spilling into Jordan, you could get both Al-Qaeda and the Iranian revolutionary guard camped on the other side of the Jordan river," he said.

North of the border in Syria, some 2,500 EU citizens are believed to be still in the country amid escalating violence.

Around 90 percent are dual EU-Syrian citizens and are expected to see out the crisis no matter what happens.

France - a former colonial power in Syria - has the largest group among the remaining 10 percent. The French foreign ministry says that despite reports of mass-killings in Homs over the past weekend, the situation in the rest of the country has not significantly deteriorated.

"We haven't started the launch code for an evacuation. We haven't even closed our embassy. The only thing we've done is recalled our ambassador for consultations, which is a political gesture," a French diplomat said.

Meanwhile, Lebanon - the most volatile country in the region in contemporary history - is looking the most stable for the time being.

A speech on Tuesday by Hassan Nasrallah - the chief of the main military power in Lebanon, Hezbollah - in which he said he does not take orders from Iran, might mean he will not start a war with Israel to take the heat off his allies in Damascus and Tehran.

The British foreign office says people should avoid all but essential travel to anywhere east of the mountains which bisect Lebanon from north to south, due to risk of kidnapping and Syrian military incursions.

For his part, Crooke, who lives in Beirut, said a traveller would have to go well off the beaten track into militant training camps in the foothills, Palestinian refugee camps in the south or smuggler villages which straddle the Lebanon-Syria border, to get into trouble.

"If you are using ordinary routes, the Bekaa valley [the eastern half of the country] is quite normal - people are crossing it every day to go to Damascus and back," he said.

EU considering global summit on Syria crisis

UK foreign minister William Hague has said EU countries my convene a global summit on how to bring down Syrian leader Bashar Assad despite a blockage in the UN.

EU points to oil reserves after Iran threat

The European Commission has noted that "there is a lot of oil around" inside reserves in EU countries even if Iran makes good on threats to stop shipments next week.

Feature

Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion

The Arctic future conference kicked off with optimistic presentations by ministers and officials of the Russian government — but also a burst of scepticism from representatives of those actually living in Russia's Arctic and Far East regions.

Macron spars with US and Turkey over Nato

French president Emmanuel Macron clashed with US president Donald Trump and Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Nato, as the future of the alliance begins to fray following Ankara's invasion into north-east Syria in October.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us