Diplomatic unease casts shadow on Jordan-Iran ties

Jordan cancelled a football match with Iran that was scheduled to take place in Tehran.

Better days. A 2014 file picture shows Jordan’s King Abdullah II (R) walking with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Amman. (Reuters)


2017/04/23 Issue: 103 Page: 16




London - Diplomatic relations be­tween Jordan and Iran are going through a pe­riod of unease following the trading of insults be­tween Amman and Tehran.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry said it summoned Iranian Ambas­sador to Amman Mujtaba Fardousi Bour to deliver a “strongly worded protest.”

The protest was against a state­ment from Iranian Foreign Minis­try spokesman Bahram Ghasemi branding comments Jordanian King Abdullah II made to the Washington Post as “silly and careless.”

King Abdullah told the American newspaper that Iran was involved in “strategic problems” in the re­gion. “There is an attempt to forge a geographic link between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah/Lebanon,” he said.

He added that Iran’s Islamic Revo­lutionary Guards Corps troops were within 70km of Jordan’s border and that non-state actors approaching the frontier “are not going to be tol­erated.”

In a response published in Arabic by Iran’s Fars news agency, Ghasemi said: “It appears the Jordanian king made a fundamental and strategic mistake in defining terrorism.”

Ghasemi said King Abdullah’s comments showed “his ignorance and his superficial view of develop­ments in the region.”

“It would be better if (King Abdul­lah) put aside some of his time to study the logic, history and geogra­phy of the region,” he said.

“It is advisable that the Jordanian king take a passing look first at the statistics released about the Jorda­nian terrorists joining [the Islamic State] and other blood-spilling and ignorant groups and then make an opinion on Iran which is on the frontline of the fight against terror­ism and extremism and striving to strengthen security in the region,” Ghasemi said.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said Ghasemi’s “unacceptable” com­ments were “a failed attempt to misrepresent the central role the kingdom plays in supporting re­gional security and stability and fighting terrorism.”

Former Jordanian Ambassador to Tehran Bassam al-Amoush told the website AlkhaleejOnline.net that the “Iranian transgression against Jordan needed a strong response, especially since the proximity of the Iranians from the Jordanian- Syrian border represents a threat to Jordan.”

“Amman is an influential player in the region, and the Iranians must know that Jordan will not stand idly while Iran makes hostile state­ments or threats against Jordan,” he added.

Jordanian Information Minister Mohammad Momani said: “We’re a country that deals positively with the rest of the world but such rheto­ric (by Iran) is shameful and unac­ceptable.” He added: “Iran would be more welcome if its officials learn how to control their tongues.”

In response, the Arabic-language Iranian media outlet Alalam ac­cused King Abdullah of being a “submissive… fixer for hire” to Arab Gulf sheikhs who reward his servic­es with “crumbles and leftovers”.

“Jordan is bowing to pressure from the United States and Gulf states to accuse Iran of supporting terrorism in exchange for mate­rial support,” stated an article on Alalam’s website.

Amid the tensions, Jordan can­celled a football match with Iran that was scheduled to take place in Tehran in May.

Relations between Amman and Tehran were warm prior to the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Jordan took Iraq’s side during its 1980-88 war with Iran.

Jordan cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016 in solidarity with Ri­yadh after Saudi diplomatic mis­sions were attacked in Tehran and Mashhad by Iranians protesting the execution of Shia Saudi cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

The Jordanian government at the time stressed its condemnation “of the Iranian interference in the in­ternal affairs of Arab states” as well as Tehran’s “interference in inter­nal Saudi affairs,” in a reference to Iran’s criticism of Nimr’s execution.

“For years, Amman has been keen on having a policy of ‘minimal problems’ with the Iranians,” wrote the London-based Arabic newspa­per Rai al-Youm. However, Jordan “has a lot of reservations on the Iranian intelligence, which Amman believes is trying to penetrate some of its institutions,” it added.

Jordan hosts tens of thousands of refugees from the war in neigh­bouring Syria and is part of a US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (ISIS). Amman has also provided support to Syrian rebels fighting ISIS. Those rebels are also opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which Iran staunchly backs.

The foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Syria discussed the re­deployment of US military equip­ment to the border with Jordan dur­ing a meeting in Moscow, reported TASS.

“There have been some reports the United States has moved mili­tary equipment to Jordan’s south­ern borders,” Syrian Foreign Min­ister Walid Muallem was quoted as saying. “We discussed that question and I can confirm that we have common procedures against any aggression that might have occurred in relation to Syrian territory.”


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