The Kingdom of Jordan, a long-time U.S. ally in the Middle East, is looking to reorient its regional policies. This shift is not only significant for Washington to monitor but has already alarmed Saudi Arabia, the historic cornerstone of Jordanian foreign policy.
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Editor’s Note: Since 9/11, the United States has pushed all its allies to crack down on terrorism to prevent them from launching attacks or aiding others who might do so. President Trump has doubled down on this approach, calling for allies to "drive out" any terrorists on their soil. Jacob Olidort of the Washington Institute argues that zero tolerance is a mistake. Jordan, known for its effectiveness in fighting terrorism, illustrates how a country can manage and control jihadists at home without needing to eradicate them.
The Middle East has been engulfed in chaos. Longstanding authoritarian regimes have been toppled; still other dictators have killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions in an effort to retain power. Iran’s Shiite proxy militias have spread throughout the region, fueling sectarianism and broadening the appeal of nihilistic Sunni Islamist jihadist groups. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Egypt—two longstanding pillars of Washington’s strategic architecture in the Middle East—have been shaken by economic troubles.
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The assertion that Jordanian stability is of paramount importance to securing American interests is repeated to the point of banality. Yet, in spite of the clear prioritization of Jordanian security, little has been said about the parliamentary elections that took place in the Kingdom last week. There are several reasons for this. For one, the crumbling ceasefire in Syria is undoubtedly a distraction.
Editor's Note: Jordan occupies a contradictory space in the US struggle against the Islamic State. On the one hand, it is a vital source of basing, intelligence, and other support for the military and intelligence campaign against the group. On the other hand, many Jordanians have joined the Islamic State’s ranks. Sean Yom and Katrina Sammour, two experts based in Jordan, explain why so many Jordanians are taking up arms, finding that the fault lies in the country’s disastrous educational system.