By Amer Al Sabaileh
The sources of the greatest challenges for Jordan comprise two different fronts; the inevitable consequences of the Syrian issue, a possible violence escalation in the West Bank due to evolving crises, one of them might be who killed Arafat. These two developments might have a negative bearing on the Jordanian internal scene.
Despite huge pressures, Jordan has shown exceptional skills in the management of the Syrian crisis. However, Jordan will have to consolidate and protect its position in dealing with the same crisis in the future. This should be done under the umbrella of a national consensual policy to preserve state institutions and protect Jordan from any possible internal disputes.
Despite the risks entailed, Jordan should try to keep channels open with all parties to the conflict in the region. Jordanian strategic interests necessitate for Jordan to play a key role in the coming scenario. Therefore, any political intervention from Jordan requires extreme delicacy especially given nothing decisive can develop in Syria without Jordanian support. Hence, it is extremely important to reach a form of consensus involving all parties of the conflicts, especially the Syrians.
The second risk for Jordan would be the result of any surprise unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, which might be new Israeli tactic. Previously this method was used in Gaza. If such approach is applied in the West Bank, it might precipitate serious disorders or, in the worst case, a kind of civil war. The Israelis believe that the turmoil created in the West Bank will, undoubtedly, spill over the East bank of the river, similar to the extension of the Syrian crisis to Tripoli in Lebanon. Any Israeli perceived solution to the Palestinian crisis will almost certainly include Jordan, as a natural extension of the conflict. Jordan will again have to play a central role in resolving the Palestinian issue. Accordingly, any Palestinian settlement should be conceived in Jordan. This would nominate Amman as the place where contradictions encounter and conflicts are resolved, from Palestinian reconciliation to a Syrian settlement.
On the domestic Jordanian level, the foremost political topic is the forthcoming parliamentary elections, especially the election law. The regional political scenario is going through some dynamic changes warranting for Jordan's home front to become the center of the attention of all Jordanians. Hence, it is highly important to underline the significance of the “law reinforcement” process launched with the closing down several well-known restaurants, bakeries and sweets shops, and the following joint military and security forces operation against “a group of wanted criminals” in Sweileh's Kamaliyah area.
At this crucial juncture, many questions arise foremost whether the Jordanian society is ready for the election stage. Many adequate answers to domestic related questions will be detected through proper reading of the regional situation. However, it is important to remember that elections should represent an opportunity to bring harmony to the political arena, and to end any remnants of past disputes. Or else, it would be dangerous to incorporate the unresolved discontents of today in the coming phase of tomorrow.
Dr, Amer Al Sabaileh