As conflict escalates in the Middle East, the Jordanian government seeks aid from the United States in bolstering their defenses. Amidst the growing tensions, this article explores the intricate dynamics of the region and the potential implications for Jordan and its security.
Rising Tensions in the Region
Just twenty days after the terrorist attacks led by Hamas in southern Israel, the Israeli military has ramped up their response. A second phase of air strikes and ground incursions into the Gaza Strip has been launched, with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warning of a “long and difficult war”. The complexity of urban combat due to constrained movement and the “three-dimensionality” of the conflict prolongs the situation.
Hamas has been capitalizing on networks of tunnels underneath Gaza city for storing supplies and command centers, thereby extending their resistance. The concern is that persistence of such conflict will significantly increase the risk of its extension. There have been skirmishes with the Israeli military in northern Israel, involving groups linked to Iran, such as Hezbollah, suggestive of their readiness to engage.
Jordan’s Position and Concerns
The potential spread of this conflict is a grave concern for Jordan, given its intricate relations with Iran, its proximity to Saudi Arabia and its normalization of relations with Israel in 1994. This fear is exacerbated by the fact that Jordan has been the victim of organized drug trafficking from Syria by pro-Iranian militias, allegedly with the backing of Syrian regular forces.
The Jordanian military has pledged to confront any threats at its borders and any attempts to undermine national security. Recent protests by supporters of Iraqi Shiite militias at the Jordanian border have heightened the apprehension of infiltration by Tehran-directed militias.
Request for Aid from the United States
In response to these threats, the Jordanian army has sought assistance from the United States. Specifically, they have requested the deployment of Patriot air defense systems, in order to strengthen their defense. The emerging threats include ballistic missiles and drones.
This is not a novel request, with a similar appeal made in 2013 during the Syrian civil war. At that time, the United States had deployed Patriot air defense systems and F-16 bombers in Jordan as part of the Eager Lion 13 exercise.
New Threats and Jordan’s Preparedness
The struggle in the Middle East is proving to be more complex and multifaceted with time. Jordan's request for aid indicates the country's recognition of this complexity and its determination to diligently protect its borders and national security.