My cliff notes on Jordan are as follows:
Jordan is the Switzerland of the middle east. For 46 years, King Hussein ruled Jordan until he passed away in 1999. His widow, Queen Noor is still honored for her work in the area. King Abdullah II is King Hussein’s son and the current ruler of Jordan.
Most Jordanians are Sunnis Muslims, but the Constitution provides for the freedom to practice one’s faith, unless they violate public order or morality. The main exception to the mostly peaceful coexistence of those with different religious beliefs occurs when someone wants to leave their Islamic faith for an alternative. These peoples are then subject to extreme societal pressures.
Jordan and Egypt are the only two countries in the middle east supporting the existence of Israel. Jordan has been a major ally to the west in the fight against the extreme terrorist Islamic organizations.
Jordan has assisted and supported past US efforts to engender a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. They have been assisting the US with air support in 2014 and 2015, to their own detriment. By partnering with the west, this otherwise peaceful country has exposed themselves to the possibility of retaliatory attacks by Islamist terrorist extremist groups. In the year of 2015, Jordan which is heavily dependent on tourism dollars has seen a major decrease (50%) in this sector of their economy.
The above examples of Jordan’s backing US strategies is why I am puzzled as to why the US in 2015, has denied and/ or delayed Jordan’s requests for a drone and other military equipment necessary for them to support US tactics. Jordan has also asked the US to take in more Syrian refugees. Jordan is a small country with little natural recourses and yet, they have welcomed over 600,000 refugees. The US does provide financial aid to Jordan but these funds are insufficient to offset the costs associated with their generosity.
For example, a 9/10/15 Congressional Report, penned by Jeremy M. Sharp details how Jordan has backed the US in fighting the Assad regime and the following are some excerpts:
“Jordan provides a staging ground for rebels and their foreign backers on Syria’s southern front. One broad coalition of Syrian rebel groups, known as the “Southern Front,” reportedly has direct ties to the Jordan-based Military Operations Center (MOC), which according to press reports, coordinates some rebel operations and is staffed by foreign and Jordanian officials. Southern front fighters may generally be moderate but at times, have fought alongside Islamist against Assad regime forces. The Jordanian government may back efforts to support rebel groups within the Southern Front in hopes of ensuring that a group friendly to the kingdom lies between it and the Assad regime and / or extremist Syrian groups. According to one report, Jordan may be considering the establishment of a “buffer zone” that would be manned by fighters from the Southern Front. The Southern Front has scored significant gains against Assad regime forces; nevertheless, as of September 2015, it has yet to seize key southern Syrian population centers such as Dera’s city ( 62 miles south of Damascus) and military installations such as Suwayda Air base. The southern Front also has to deal with competing groups more radical or Islamist in nature, such as the Syrian affiliate of Al-Qaeda, Jabhat al Nusra, and fighters affiliated with the Jaysh al Fateh (Army of Victory) initiative to improve rebel coordination.”
On 4/29/15 BBC News detailed a profile- overview on Jordan and the following are some excerpts:
“The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a small country with few natural resources, but it has played a pivotal role in the struggle for power in the Middle East.”
“Jordan’s significance results partly from its strategic location at the crossroads of what Christians, Jews and Muslims call the Holy Land. It is a key ally of the US and, together with Egypt, one of only two Arab nations to have made peace with Israel.”
“The desert kingdom emerged out of the post-World War I division of the Middle East by Britain and France.
“The population at that time was largely made up of tribes which had taken part in the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire.”
“Today, those original inhabitants – known as East Bank Jordanians – are outnumbered by the descendants of Palestinian refugees from Israel and the West Bank.”
“The first ruler of Jordan, the Hashemite Abdullah I, was born in Mecca and played a leading role in the Great Arab Revolt.”
“The death in February 1999 of King Hussein, who ruled for 46 years, left Jordan still struggling for economic and social survival, as well as regional peace.”
Calls for reform
“His son, Abdullah II faces the task of maintaining stability while accommodating calls for reform. A blueprint for long-term political, economic and social change – known as the National Agenda – has yet to be implemented, and the Arab Spring popular revolts across the region found some resonance in street protests.”
“Jordan’s reputation as one of the region’s safest countries was dealt a blow in late 2005 when dozens of people were killed in suicide bomb attacks on hotels in the capital. Iraq-based Islamic militants claimed responsibility. The king said Jordan had been targeted because of its location and its stances (support of the west).”
“The civil war in neighbouring Syria has seen Jordan play host to some 600,000 Syrian refugees, while the resurgence of Islamic militancy in Iraq also presents security challenges for Amman.”
“Unlike Arab states to the south and east, Jordan has no oil of its own. Its resources are limited to phosphates and agricultural produce. The economy depends largely on services, tourism and foreign aid, of which the US is the main provider. Jordan prides itself on its health service, one of the best in the region.”
“Jordan engaged in two conflicts abroad in 2014 and 2015, taking part in air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Houthi rebels in Yemen.”