The Jordanian capital has turned into a center for regional activity. On Monday, a Saudi-Jordanian summit was held following the arrival of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to the country. The Arab League Summit will be held tomorrow in Dead Sea. These two important political events are linked to the region’s complicated and dangerous affairs.
If you ask Jordan’s neighbors about their opinion in Jordan, the answer will mostly be the same. They would say Jordan is most capable of bearing crises and dealing with them. This has been the case since the Palestinian refugees’ crises, the fall of West Bank, Iraq’s multiple wars and the disasters due to the Arab Spring revolutions.
Jordan has had an alliance with Saudi Arabia for a long time now. For Saudi Arabia, Jordan has been an essential regional ally since the 1960s, ever since the first war of Yemen. It has performed significant roles while confronting dangerous crises in Iraq and Syria. Jordan and Saudi Arabia carefully deal with crises and address them in a realistic manner. They both act calmly during the worst crises.
The new feature, which may distinguish relations between Riyadh and Amman, is efforts to establish a formula for long term economic cooperation – a formula which is not governed by just support and aid.
On the political front, Saudi Arabia has been very active. For months now, it has been weaving a network of regional and international relations. For instance, King Salman went on a long tour to the Far East and visited Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and China.
The new feature, which may distinguish relations between Riyadh and Amman, is efforts to establish a formula for long term economic cooperation – a formula which is not governed by just support and aidAbdulrahman al-Rashed
After coordinating Saudi and Jordanian positions, the Arab League annual summit will be held amid difficult circumstances as there are four major wars going on in the region, in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
Reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be present in the conference’s hall are mere rumors. However, everyone acknowledges that they are surprised at Assad’s capability to remain in power until now, following six years of a massive revolution against his regime. Assad’s return to the Arab group may be possible if he can get rid of his Iranian ally.
Of course he must practically get rid of it and not just make future promises. This is unlikely due to his forces’ weakness and due to the fact that Iranians control the basic pillars of the Syrian state under the excuse of supporting it.
And at the same time, everyone is amazed by the Syrian rebels’ ability to resume this confrontation against Assad despite the siege imposed on them, the millions of people who have been killed and displaced and the hostility of regional and international powers.
When it comes to Syria, both, the regime and the opposition are present. No one expects a magical solution from the Russian negotiator or from the UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura. The Dead Sea Arab League Summit will be his last major appearance.
On top of the list, which Arab leaders will discuss, is Iran which has a presence all around them. For instance, it has strong military presence in the neighboring countries of Iraq and Syria. There is a growing feeling in the Arab League that Iran is a threat to everyone and not just to Gulf countries – as it was thought in the past.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on March 28, 2017.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.