Iraqis in Amman: Finding a Balance

Well the elections for an Iraqi parliament are fast approaching on the 15th of this month. There is however, in a post Amman-attacks atmosphere, a desire to strike a balance. Jordan has had the toughest time in dealing with the Iraq war since it began. How do you support both the United States and the sentiments of the Jordanian street simultaneously?

There are 600,000 Iraqis now living in Jordan, most of them wealthy elitists (if I dare throw use the word. They have now come to symbolise a giant economic push for Jordan in the past 2 years. Real estate prices have taken off, investments have poured in, and the appetite of the local banks has been appeased.

This reminds me of 1948 when many Palestinians came to Jordan. Although they were poor the point is that they came to Jordan with the mindset that they would return soon to their homes after the war was over. 57 years later and many of them still have the keys to their homes, waiting.

Iraqis may have come to Amman with the same mindset. Though the rich unlike the poor have greater flexibility in movement they tend to move with the safety of their money in mind. If their money is wrapped up in investments and real estate in Jordan they will/might just as well settle there for the next few years, especially since the war in Iraq has no end in sight. Even if we are to assume it is for the short run we would have to define the short run first: American troop withdrawal in 2 years? 3 years? another administration? a chaotic civil war for 10 years? more?

There are many variables and they turn the short run into a matter of years and decades rather quickly. Every time an influx of refugees have come into the country the majority have stayed. This includes wars in Palestine, and both Gulf wars. Mostly because conflicts in this region seem to last a lifetime.

In the meantime Iraqis are transforming the Jordanian landscape to suit their stay. Like a relative that stays over and rearranges the furniture. Jordan’s first Shia’ mosque is being built in the richest part of the country. Already conflict has arisen this past week when election posters which are supposed to be confined to polling stations only were plastered illegally on the streets of Amman forcing the authorities to remove them. Also, discrimination has spiked since the discovery of the nationalities of the bombers being Iraqis almost a month ago. And Jordan still does not know what to make of the fact that Ahmad Chalabi, one of Jordan’s most wanted men, is now the Deputy Prime Minister in Iraq. First the Iraqis say they will hand him over, then the King says he’ll pardon him to ease tensions, then…well…

Tricky Politics…

With this in mind, national policies and foreign relations become a fairly complex situation for the kingdom. The tightrope we walk will grow thinner and thinner in the months to come.

Meanwhile, an agreement will be signed between Jordan and Iraq in the coming days regarding the â??administrative and regulatory issues of the elections.â? While Iraqi political parties have also been actively campaigning in local newspapers during the build- up to the election.


  • The language used in the “Information for comment users” is very aggresive, in my opinion. Don’t you think it is rather intimidating to use the words like “hunt down”, “kill you”…. Well, for me it is.

  • suemi, thanks for the note although lately i have been attacked by spammers and i dont think any one would find the language aggressive unless they were spammers. you’re not a spammer are you?

    also, i kinda meant it as a joke and i figured the language would give that away. i doubt many spammers are really turtle people.

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