Thursday

11th Aug 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

EU hopeful of Iran nuclear deal

A possible deal to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear pact is within reach, says the European Union. Washington backs the final proposals, but Tehran remains cautious.

Opinion

Let Taiwan's democracy shine brighter

Dr Ming-Yen Tsai, head of the Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium, responds to EUobserver op-ed on Taiwan by the Chinese ambassador to Belgium. "Taiwan is an 'island of resilience'. That will continue to be the case."

Opinion

Supporting Taiwan 'like carrying water in a sieve'

China's ambassador to Belgium, Cao Zhongming, says the US has been distorting, obscuring and hollowing out the 'one-China' principle and unscrupulously undermining China's core interests. This is sheer double standards and a shameful act of bad faith.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  2. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive
  3. Another migrant tragedy claims 50 lives in Greek waters
  4. Russia hits area near town with 120 rockets, says Ukraine
  5. UN expects more ships to get Ukrainian grain out
  6. Greece to end bailout-era oversight
  7. Denmark to train Ukrainian soldiers in urban warfare
  8. Russian helicopter flies into Estonia's airspace

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  2. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  3. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia
  4. EU Commission shrugs off Polish threats on rule-of-law
  5. EU urged to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians
  6. Russia puts EU in nuclear-energy paradox
  7. Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought
  8. West needs to counter Russia in Africa, but how?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us