Jordan’s Uncertain Future

The country’s unique role in the Middle East is fading and its challenges are growing.

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As a small, weak and fragmented country, Jordan fits the profile of a typical buffer state. It lies between stronger rival states and frequently shifts alliances to maintain a semblance of balance in a volatile and uncertain regional environment. It has maintained this balance in part by cultivating a cooperative relationship with Israel that has endured the frequent conflicts and upheaval that often characterize the Middle East’s fractious order. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank have strained their unique relationship. The two countries have been slowly drifting apart, a process that has only intensified as Israel has cultivated new relationships with other Arab countries over the past year. This emerging reality has created a heightened uncertainty for Jordan, whose place as a buffer between Israel and the Arab world is deteriorating. Transjordan’s Beginnings In 1921, the British created the Emirate of Transjordan by carving out a portion of Mandatory Palestine in order to prevent encroachment on Syria and end Ibn Saud’s Wahhabi forces’ intrusions outside Arabia. A year prior, Capt. Frederick Gerard Peake, who joined the anti-Ottoman Arab revolt in 1916, established Transjordan’s army, then called the Arab Legion. In 1941, the […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.