Jordan winds down military-intelligence ties with Israel
Hard-pressed by Syrian President Bashar Assad and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyep Erdogan, Jordan's King Abdulllah II has sharply reduced the kingdom's military and intelligence collaboration with Israel after 60 years in which the partnership buttressed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's often shaky survival, secured Israel's eastern frontier and helped safeguard both against terrorism.
debkafile's intelligence sources disclose that Jordan has reduced cooperation to the narrow border strip cutting down the middle of the Jordan River, keeping it in place only because it is an essential barrier against the flooding of the kingdom with hundreds of thousands of West Bank Palestinians. All other forms of the intelligence-sharing which kept both abreast of Middle East threats and undercurrents have been discontinued.
This happened twice before.
In 1958, Abdullah's father King Hussein opted to join the United Arab Republic federation established by Egypt's pan-Arabist Gemal Abdul Nasser for fear that if he stayed out, the other two which topple him by subversion, then carve his realm up between them. It took Hussein a year to realize his error and return to shelter under Israel's military and intelligence shield. The UAR broke up three years later with Syria's defection.
In 1967, the king of Jordan again jumped on the Egyptian-Syrian bandwagon racing toward the combined offensive against Israel later known as the Six-Day War – the time it took for Israel to vanquish the three Arab armies. This time, Hussein paid dearly: The IDF threw his army back across the Jordan River to the East Bank. and he lost the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Twenty-seven years later, in 1994, Jordan followed Egypt in signing a peace treaty with Israel.
debkafile's military and intelligence sources note that the cutoff in ties ordered quietly now by King Abdullah is different from the two former occasions because the players have changed along with the balance of strength in the region. The two most conspicuous new trends are the Islamic Republic of Iran's rise as a dominant political and military force and Israel's decline.
Syria, despite its political and economic weakness, is still a key player thanks to its strong strategic bond with Iran and its military proxy, the Lebanese Hizballah. Once the leading Middle East power, Egypt is being edged out of this role by Tehran, Damascus and their new ally, Tayyep Erdogan's pro-Muslim Turkey.
When he looks around him, Jordan's Abdullah sees Iran's rising influence over the kingdom's eastern neighbor Iraq, with America preparing to abandon ship next year. According to the latest information, not a single American soldier may be left there, a sign that the United States is on its way out of the entire Middle East, primarily because of the weakness of its president, Barack Obama.
Across his western border, the Jordanian king sees Israel standing by idly as Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas tighten their military noose. It can therefore no longer be relied on as a strategic partner.
To the north, he sees Syria, Turkey and Hizballah-Lebanon bolstering the pro-Iranian axis in the Middle East.
Abdullah has therefore decided that to save his throne and kingdom, he had better jump aboard the winning side and ditch his former partner. In recent weeks, therefore, debkafile's military and intelligence sources disclose that the king has been secretly winding down his military and intelligence ties with Israel and paving the way for joining the pro-Iranian camp in response to the powerful arguments coming from the Syrian and Turkish rulers.
As one of his first steps in that direction, the king received in his palace on Dec. 11 the Iranian president's bureau chief, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, with a formal presidential invitation for a state visit to Tehran. This visit would mark his entry into the radical alliance headed by Iran.
Israelis and their media are too preoccupied with domestic woes to pay attention to the imminent slamming shut of the door by a valuable ally to the east. Jerusalem may face the same sort of rude awakening from Jordan as the one Turkey delivered just eight months ago by sending an armed flotilla to break the Gaza blockade. The breach in relations with Ankara had begun developing under the surface years earlier, but the government in Jerusalem failed to arrest the deterioration until it was too late.