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King Abdullah II's Image is Vital for U.S. National Security



On April 13th, Jordan helped a coalition of Israel, the U.S., France and the U.K. defend Israel from a barrage of over 200 Iranian rockets, drones and missiles.


While the Western world largely applauded these efforts, many across the Muslim world, pro-Palestinian groups, Islamists, anti-Western actors and leftists within and outside of Jordan have decried these efforts.


They accuse Jordan’s King Abdullah II of being a “Western puppet” who acts in the interests of the Americans and not Jordanians.


This may seem like only a Jordanian issue, but it is a major issue for our national security.


First, Jordan is an American ally. Together, both nations' armed forces work to keep the region stable and fight against terrorism. The relationship was so close that King Abdullah II signed a deal to allow the American military to have bases in Jordan to protect its northern borders.


Second, Jordan is an ally of American allies. Jordan may be a huge supporter of Palestine and may seek a middle-ground approach between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but this is exactly what makes Jordan so special. It can align with interests across the region including Israel providing a link to the Muslim World. This link helps the U.S. engage with adversaries to avoid conflict.


But, why then should America worry if King Abdullah II is facing domestic pressure if Jordan is such a close ally?


The reason stems from the realities on the ground in Jordan and U.S. experiences.


Ethnic Palestinians likely make up a majority of Jordan’s population and citizens because of refugee resettlement and restricted measures against Palestinians returning to Palestine. Therefore, Jordan’s population has turned increasingly anti-American during the Israeli attacks on Palestine.


Protests, sometimes violent, ring outside the American and Israeli embassies in Amman, while things deemed American or from nations aligned with Israel have been boycotted such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. 


As of now, it appears the top officials in Jordan share a different vision than the people of Jordan. 


For example, the deal that allowed American military personnel in Jordan has been highly ridiculed. Other deals brokered by Americans to bring peace between Jordan and Israel have been seen as putting America’s interest before Jordan’s.


There is even a racial component to the dissatisfaction with Jordan’s leadership as critics have claimed that King Abdullah II does not look or sound Jordanian because his Arabic is not good while his English is perfect, and he looks more European than Arab. 


All of these details have earned King Abdullah II the label of “Western puppet” and much of the rhetoric follows that of when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s rule in Iran was overthrown for the new Islamic Republic of Iran we see today. 


Starting with the American hostages in Iran to the present day, this change in leadership and vision for Iran has greatly damaged American national security and the whole region. This is because the movements that ushered in the new Iran were focused on decolonization, political Islam and anti-Americanism.


While it is true that Jordan is far smaller than Iran in population, size and power, Jordan is positioned in perhaps an even more strategic position bordering Israel to the east. Additionally, Jordan’s royal family is descended from the Prophet Muhammad giving legitimacy to American quests when aligned with Jordan in the Muslim World. 


No matter its size, we have witnessed countries nearly half the size of Jordan cause massive upheaval such as Lebanon in the 1980s whereby the new wave of Islamic terrorism is credited to have been born, and where Hezbollah still controls much of the land to this day.


Therefore, the U.S. needs to get out in front of this potential overthrow or risk losing another ally.


First, the U.S. needs to help King Abdullah II form a better diplomatic response, by allowing Jordan to portray their actions as protecting itself from falling rockets instead of protecting Israel.


Two, the U.S. needs to help King Abdullah II distance himself from America. King Abdullah II does not have to speak ill of the U.S. but can focus on peace in the Gaza Strip.


Three, the U.S. should seek to portray King Abdullah II as the major voice to America to pressure Israel to stop their attacks. 


Little actions like these can go a long way toward restoring King Abdullah II’s popularity to make the region more stable and less anti-American.


Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


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Jeff Hall
Jeff Hall
12 may

Enlightening, Cole. I feel smarter now.

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