27.09.2022

Saudis try to maintain control over Jordan

Saudi Arabia did not save the Jordanian economy by providing a $ 2.5 billion aid package. However, King Salman tried to present everything as if real assistance had been provided.

It was King Salman’s attempt to merit the payment of the money that Kuwait had already promised. The result was the struggle of the rival Gulf countries to support Jordan.

King Abdullah sent an authorized person to Kuwait before street protests erupted due to rising prices and higher income taxes, a source close to the Royal Court of Jordan said. Kuwait’s Secretary of State was in Jordan during the protests, as a result of Kuwait promised to contribute $ 500 million to the Central Bank of Jordan, promising another $ 500 million for low interest loans.

The next step was from Qatar. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, urged Abdullah to offer “substantial financial support” to Qatar. This was not done at the request of Jordan, which was still hoping that Saudi Arabia would provide these funds.

Vladimir Putin met with King of Jordan Abdullah II on Thursday. Opening the meeting, the Russian president noted that in 2018 marks 55 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Qatar’s Finance Minister arrived in Jordan today to negotiate a package of assistance. This is the first such visit since Jordan has worsened relations with Qatar as a result of Saudi pressure to put up a blockade a year ago.

The Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Qatar has decided to support the Jordanian economy by creating more than 10 thousand jobs and injecting $ 500 million.
A few hours after the Qatar step, catching the direction of Qatar, King Salman called on Abdullah. The subsequent meeting was attended by the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and the Emir of Dubai and the UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin Maktoum.

King Salman called on the de facto ruler of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed, but he refused to come, and the UAE represented bin Maktoum.

A little sleight of hand of Saudi Arabia – and a $ 1 billion Kuwait aid package was included in the general aid package announced by Salman, as if it had been decided at the meeting. In fact, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have allocated less money than Kuwait, sharing the remaining $ 1.5 billion between them.

Thus, the Royal Court experienced a certain “degree of disappointment” amid Salman’s response, since Jordan had already received $ 1 billion from Kuwait, they expected more from Saudi Arabia, given that the Saudis had stopped funding Jordan for two years.

First, King Salman was in a panic when he realized that the vacuum of the Saudi regional leadership was filled by his rivals in the Gulf countries. Kuwait tried and failed to play the role of mediator in the crisis caused by the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. But he was also in conflict with Israel and the United States over Gaza.

The United States blocked a statement calling for an independent investigation into the killing of Palestinian demonstrators on the Gaza border. The statement was made by Kuwait, a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

The attempt by Saudi Arabia to intimidate and subjugate the Gulf Cooperation Council failed, the country managed to split it. Kuwait is now pursuing its own policy, relying on a certain degree of independence, which was not the case before. The same can be said of Qatar. Kuwait’s reaction to Jordan is another sign that there is no special understanding between him and the Saudis.

Secondly, this means that King Abdullah, who was in Kuwait on Tuesday, is less associated with Saudi Arabia after this aid package than everyone thinks. Saudi Arabia allocated Amman far from such a large amount, as suggested by the heading of $ 2.5 billion.

Yes, there are 400,000 Jordanians working in Saudi Arabia; their remittances account for 10% of Jordan’s GDP. But Jordan has other sources of funding from the Gulf countries that are closer to issues important to Jordanians than Salman.

Jordan’s Political Reorientation

King Abdullah understands that his legitimacy is not due to a simple purchase of the support of his people. He must take into account the will of his people in terms of the political course of the Kingdom more than ever for the entire period of his reign.

Last week’s protests and ongoing conflict with the Beni Sahra tribe, whose leader Fares al-Fayes, was arrested on Saturday after calling for political change, signaled to the king that he should no longer consider the loyalty of his people as then for granted. Al-Fayes violated the unspoken rule of publicly attacking the king.

He not only stated that he wanted to “change the political formula,” he added: “We do not want to accept you, Abdullah, as king, prime minister, defense minister, police chief and governor. You have become everything. You are almost a demigod, according to this constitution, and we are slaves. ”

He also reminded the king that his family came from the land, which is now the territory of Saudi Arabia. Jordan is all that remains of the Kingdom from which his family had once fled.

Political dissident Light Shubeilat poured salt on the wounds of the king, telling Lebanese Al-Ahbar that Jordan was deposed by Saudi Arabia as a military subject of Israel.

Such overt insults to royal power are not accidental. They remind the royal court that public opinion in Jordan is not so easy to buy these days.

What Jordanians think makes sense, and it is also a factor limiting Salman’s influence, because, being an absolute monarch, he has no idea what civil society or public opinion is.

For various reasons, both the east coast and the Palestinian part of the Jordanian population are strongly opposed by Saudi support for Israel’s claims that Palestinian refugees have lost their right to return.

This in itself is considered an existential threat to Jordan’s stability. But there are other threats. The American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel challenges the Hashemite custody of the holy sites in Jerusalem, as well as the Palestinian demand supported by the League of Arab States that East Jerusalem is the capital of a Palestinian state.

Whether he wants it or not, these are not the problems that King Abdullah can circumvent. Now his legitimacy depends on his role as the keeper of holy places more than ever.

Saudi Arabia has every reason to believe that a wave of public power in Jordan could easily spread across borders. The growing importance of Kuwait and Qatar as independent Gulf players and donors for Jordan also gives King Abdullah a chance to carry out political reform in Jordan. If he does not, there will be ominous omens.

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