Undoubtedly, the call by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for a quartet summit in Makkah to resolve the deepening economic crisis in Jordan was indeed the intervention of a brother with a helping hand in a critical hour.
The purpose of this initiative was not only aimed at employing temporary measures to tackle the crisis but offering sustainable solutions in the form of integrated economic aid package along with commitments made to the World Bank.
The most glaring aspect of the crisis was the result of the economic woes Jordan has been beset by ever since its foundation in a strategic geographical location, which is arid and lacks natural resources such as oil and water. The economic conditions were further exacerbated by the turmoil in the region around Jordan. As for Iraq, it is not in a position to lend a helping hand to Jordan as it is struggling to contain its own internal threats.
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As far as Syria is concerned, the situation is the worst in the war-torn country. The dirty war in Syria is considered as a major factor contributing to the economic problems in Jordan as it forced hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee the oppression and annihilation at the hands of the brutal Assad regime as well as from terrorist outfits and the Iranian invaders.
The presence of Palestinians on the Jordanian soil continues to remain a permanent reason for the economic challenges facing the country. Moreover, Iran also seeks to further exacerbate the precarious economic conditions in Jordan so that it can use the kingdom to have an access to the West Bank.
The same ploy was employed by Iran when it supported and funded terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula in order to carve out a passage to enter the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. Iran seeks to exploit the Jordanian political landscape by taking advantage of its solid ties with the Muslim Brotherhood whose wings were clipped successfully by King Abdallah earlier.
It is certain that King Salman will not rest until ensuring that stability returns to Jordan so that the neighboring country can continue its march toward more growth, self-reliance and positive interactionJameel al-Thiyabi
Tumultuous geopolitical situations
Above all these, the economic crisis has hit Jordan during tumultuous geopolitical situations around like raging war in Syria; involvement of the Gulf brothers in confronting the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen; preoccupation of Egypt in its war against terrorism and cleansing of the political and economic realms from the Brotherhood elements; transformation of Turkey into a base for the international outfit of Muslim Brotherhood; indulgence of the Qatari regime in conspiracies and interventions with transforming the tiny emirate into a haven for extremist and terrorist organizations, especially the leaders of the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.
Of course, Jordan did not escape from the harm caused by the Qatari regime, which seeks to support the Brotherhood of Jordan so as to settle a political score with the Jordanian government. It is also worthy to note that the Palestinian issue has also proved to be a burden for Jordan.
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Some other factors have also contributed to Jordan’s economic woes, especially the International Monetary Fund’s ‘prescription’ to tackle it. The strict terms and conditions laid down by the IMF for Jordan to follow prompted angry reactions with people taking to the streets to register their protest and thus bringing the normal life to a standstill in the country.
This called for the intervention of King Abdallah who sought the resignation of the government, headed by Hani Mulki, and appointed Omar al-Razzaz as prime minister and asked him to form a new government. King Abdallah also directed the new prime minister to launch extensive and comprehensive dialogues and consultations with all major stakeholders of the Jordanian society about the draft income tax law and the economic reforms sought by the IMF.
All these factors necessitated the intervention of King Salman to salvage Jordan from its economic crisis. The royal initiative was part of the noble position taken by the Kingdom in extinguishing fires that threatened the very security and stability of the countries in the region. The Kingdom had earlier taken similar decisive initiatives to support Bahrain.
Creation of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen after Iranian invasion through its Houthi agents is also another major such initiative. It has also supported Egypt to reinforce its capacity to foil the plots of the Brotherhood that aimed to threaten the national security, ruin economy, and unleash terror and massive protests.
It is certain that King Salman will not rest until ensuring that stability returns to Jordan so that the neighboring country can continue its march toward more growth, self-reliance and positive interaction. It was a wise initiative by the King Salman to invite the rulers of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to the Makkah summit so as to shoulder the responsibility collectively. This keenness was explicitly articulated by King Salman during his last visit to Amman.
He said: “Jordan’s security is Saudi Arabia’s security. What matters for Jordan is also a concern for Saudi Arabia and what hurts Jordan is also hurting the Kingdom. The security of Jordan is integral to the security of the Arab Nation.” The late Prince Sultan once said: “Jordan is the pupil of the eye for Saudi Arabia.”
This article was first published in Saudi Gazette.
Jameel al-Thiyabi is a Saudi journalist who has held different editorial positions at al-Hayat and Okaz newspapers. Al-Thiyabi holds a master’s degree in diplomacy and media from the UK. He has spent over 20 years in the media, working first with Asharq Al-Awsat in London and then with LBC TV.