The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has officially taken sides with the Saudi-led coalition seeking to isolate Qatar. Yet whereas the Saudi bloc, to which Jordan belongs, slashed all diplomatic ties due to Qatar’s moderate position on Iran and support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements, the Jordanian follow-up has been far weaker.
While Amman slightly downgraded diplomatic relations with Doha and revoked Al Jazeera’s broadcasting license, almost everything else is unchanged. No Qatari has been asked to leave Jordan save the ambassador. Contrasting with the Gulf airlines, Royal Jordanian has not cancelled flights to Doha. Unlike in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Jordanians can still access Al Jazeera and other Qatari-based media online. And whereas the United Arab Emirates declared expressing sympathy with Qatar to be a crime, Jordanians have openly criticised their government’s actions.
Jordan’s response has been tepid because it must hedge its position when betting on regional winners and losers given its inherent weakness. Jordan traditionally projects a foreign policy that reflects the goal of maximising regime security: capture economic aid and military protection from foreign powers such as the US by exploiting its ability to help achieve their strategic interests.
For decades, Jordan’s winning hand was geography. Bordering Israel, Syria, and Iraq, it could credibly convince the West that its cooperation and protection were necessary on multiple fronts like peace with Israel, the invasion of Iraq, and the Syrian civil war.