Jordan’s Lacking Diplomacy

An article of interest by way of The Electronic Intifada. EI contributor Hasan Abu Nimah, who spent four decades as a Jordanian diplomat writes an articulate article on Jordanian Diplomacy (or lack thereof) in recent days that has resulted in some unfortunate friction between Jordan, Iraq and Syria. A version of this appeared in the Jordan Times, though this one is more thorough.


Jordanian diplomacy falters on Palestine, Syria and Iraq
Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 23 March 2005

In recent weeks, Jordan has been embroiled in crises with its neighbors Iraq and Syria and has been subjected to harsh regional criticism for the initiative it launched to amend the Arab League peace initiative towards Israel. In over forty years as a Jordanian diplomat I witnessed many occasions when Jordan’s positions were subject to attack. It was my job to explain these positions and defend them when they were distorted. In order to understand how we got here, and see how we can restore the good relations and reputation that Jordan should enjoy, we need to make an objective assessment of recent events and actions, including missteps by Jordan’s diplomats.

Iraq has accused Jordan of supporting terrorism, sparking a crisis that resulted in the withdrawal of envoys. Of all accusations that could ever be made against Jordan, support for any form of violence or terror is the very last. Iraqis have been enraged that the suicide bomber who killed over one hundred Iraqis in Hilla was apparently Jordanian. Even if that is the case, it must be self-evident to anyone who knows Jordan and its historic stance that neither the Jordanian government nor the Jordanian people would condone such a heinous crime by any individual.

Damascus was irritated because Jordan’s Foreign Minister Hani Mulki added his voice to the many calling on Syria to implement Security Council Resolution 1559 which calls on foreign forces to leave Lebanon. Syria might not have been so upset had this call been placed in the proper context by simultaneously and specifically demanding the implementation of UN resolutions under which Israel must end its occupation and colonization of Syrian and Palestinian territory. At a time when Syria feels threatened, Jordan should play a balancing role and insist that all UN Resolutions be respected without double standards. The perception, which it cannot have been the government’s intention to project, was that Jordan was siding against Syria when it already felt besieged.

Into this already poisoned atmosphere came reports in the run up to the Arab summit in Algiers that Jordan was pushing for a new approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Jordan was said to be proposing to alter the Arab initiative launched at the 2002 Beirut summit. The most alarming element of the new version, supposedly, was that the Arab states would “simplify” the initiative by offering Israel full peace and normalization without waiting for Israel to withdraw from any occupied territory.

The hostile reaction these reports produced from governments and media before the summit was entirely predictable given the high levels of anger at Israel’s unending atrocities and continued territorial expansion, and Jordan went into the summit already on the defensive. What was needed to rescue the situation was skilled, active diplomacy and that, unfortunately, is where Jordan’s diplomacy faltered… [more]

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