Date: 29/12/2022 Time: 19:24
By Pinhas Inbari
Jordan has been subjected to violent disturbances for more than a week now, and Israel has a special interest in monitoring what is happening to its neighbor to the east because Israel has the longest border with Jordan, and violating the stability within it could spill over into Israel.
Over the weekend there was a lull, because the direct reason for the outbreak of the riots, the strike of truck drivers ended for the time being, but the continuation of the riots indicates that fuel prices were the spark, and the problems are deeper and more thorough.
Jordan’s problems lie in its difficult economic situation. It has almost no industry, and the main livelihood is on the salaries of civil servants and services, but salaries are so low that they do not keep up with the pace of price increases.
A second problem is the deep Bedouin tribalism that clashes with statehood, and Israel’s interest in this aspect is that the Jordanian army soldiers guarding its border are Bedouin, and if the Bedouin element prevails over the foundations of statehood, security problems may open up for Israel along its longest border.
A third problem is the strengthening of the religious spirit among the Bedouin tribes, and this is reflected in two main aspects – the spirit of ISIS in southern Jordan, mainly in the Huweiyat tribe, which was among the founders of the Hashemite monarchy with Lawrence of Arabia, but currently has no political representation, nor does it enlist in the army at the same high rate of the Bedouins from central Jordan, mainly the Sakhar tribe, which is the real support of the regime. The problem is that while Huwietat is following al-Qaeda and ISIS, the Sakhar tribe is getting closer to the Muslim Brotherhood, which means that it is developing a negative attitude towards Israel in light of Israel’s violation of the status quo on the Temple Mount. Its leaders openly threatened at a rally to save al-Aksa that if the Hashemite crown did not protect al-Aksa, the Sakhar tribe would do so.
It should be remembered that the members of this tribe are Jordanian soldiers along Israel border, and Israel must take this into account when deciding to violate the old status quo that has maintained its relations with Jordan, and the stability in Jerusalem and in Israel in general. The truck drivers’ strike began in Ma’an in southern Jordan, an ISIS stronghold, and the protests against the price increases were also attended by city officials who were subsequently arrested by the police. The course of the arrests exposed the problem of tribalism in full force – tribesmen who oppose enlistment in the Jordanian army shot uniformed personnel and killed the deputy governor of Ma’an. In response, those wearing uniforms, on their own accord, took revenge on the tribesmen who opposed integration into Jordanian statehood.
This is reminiscent of the events in Jenin, after Palestinian security killed young villagers in Jenin, an account of blood revenge was opened between the families of the dead and the families of the security personnel, and this largely neutralized the ability of the Palestinian Authority to operate in Jenin, forcing Israel to act in its place. Will the appearance of the Bedouin in-wars in Jordan shock the Jordanian army? This is a question that should interest not only the Hashemites but also Israel. To what extent will the events in Jordan actually topple the regime? My assessment is that until this stage, the events have not focused on toppling the regime, even though the Jordanians are very angry with the royal family for their manifestations of corruption, especially in the face of economic hardship. In Arab countries, people go en masse to demonstrations against corruption, and to a large extent, the events of Jordan are also a struggle against corruption. But still, the Jordanians look at Syria to the north and Iraq to the east, and they understand the price they will pay if things get out of hand. In addition, the Palestinians have seen how an armed minority, the Alawites, overcame the Sunni majority because they were determined and willing to use their weapons, and they make the comparison with the Jordanian Bedouins, who are the Jordanian army, and once the monarchy collapses, the armed Bedouins may slaughter them. The fear of the Bedouins connects the Hashemites and the Palestinians, and since the Palestinians are the majority of the capital Amman, the capital maintains a façade of stability, and this reflects on the status of the Hashemites in the world and is radiating a sense of stability.
Tribal chiefs also understand that the monarchy is a factor of stability, and its continuation ensures the stability of the existing tribal structure.
Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.