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Jordanian opening with Tehran a sign of regional mood Open in fullscreen

Maen al-Bayari

Jordanian opening with Tehran a sign of regional mood

Judeh called for an Arab-Iranian dialogue [Petra]

Date of publication: 10 March, 2015

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Comment: Jordan's recent diplomatic opening to Iran is a sign of changing regional relationships in the wake of the realisation that Iran cannot be ignored.
On a recent visit to Tehran, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called for an Arab-Iranian dialogue. Judeh also delivered a letter from King Abdullah II to Iran's President Hassan Rohani, in which this proposed dialogue was probably a key topic.


The visit marks a significant development in the relationship between Jordan and Iran. Several months ago, a Jordanian ambassador was reposted to Tehran, and more than a year ago, the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a visit to Amman.


A new willingness to engage

The visit is a sign of an emerging Arab mood that is willing to directly engage with Iran by means of dialogue and mutual visits.

But the visit is also a sign of an emerging Arab mood that is willing to directly engage with Iran by means of dialogue and mutual visits. The visit by Judeh, who is also Jordan's deputy prime minister, can be seen as the opening move of an Arab and specifically Gulf initiative of extending a hand to Iran. Most probably, Amman dispatched its top diplomat to Iran after consulting with its allies in the Gulf, in particular Saudi Arabia.


The gulf between Jordan's position and that of Iran on a number of issues remains vast, even if the two countries have a similar stance regarding the war on the Islamic State group (IS). Yet Amman does not see the armed Shia militias in Iraq, backed by Iran, as angels or a benevolent force. Riyadh has clearly stated the activities these militias engage in is not much different from IS terrorism, and Amman's stance is not very far from Riyadh's.


However, this and other differences regarding Arab countries that Iran is publicly encroaching upon means it is no longer enough to express resentment mainly in newspapers and satellite channels. There has to be dialogue and negotiations with Iran to tackle these issues.

It is one of the ABCs of politics that facts on the ground are imposed by those who have power, and right now, Arab power, soft or hard, is not effective enough in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon to deter Iran and force it to recalculate and curb its ambitions in the region.


There is a lot of merit in studying the US dialogue with Iran, and the strong ties between Tehran and some European nations. It should be oobvious that an easing of sanctions against Iran, if not a complete end to them, is only a matter of time.


European executives are already flocking to Tehran to explore the promising Iranian market for trade and investment. With the nuclear crisis approaching resolution, most likely according to a formula that satisfies the United States - if not France - Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, and Arab nations in general will find that dialogue with Iran is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.


An ongoing dialogue

European executives are already flocking to Tehran to explore the promising Iranian market for trade and investment.

In effect, the dialogue with Iran never stopped: Even as the Houthis were storming Sanaa in September 2014, Mohammad Jawad Zarif and Saudi's Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal were meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.


One can therefore see the Jordanian overtures to Tehran as an expression of an emerging Arab mood vis-a-vis Iran, a mood that is likely to evolve further. Recall that Nasser Judeh took over officially on Monday as president of the Arab League Council of Foreign Ministers during a meeting to discuss the agenda of the upcoming Arab summit at the end of March. During that summit, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will take over as president of the Arab League for 2015, and as is known, Sisi maintains channels of communication with Iran.


Pending these protocol events, Iran is making strides both politically and on the ground. Syria is teetering and sliding into Arab oblivion. And Lebanon is awaiting Saudi approval of an Iranian fait accompli. So will we see an Arab policy that is up to the level of Iranian ambitions after Judeh's visit, and the letter from King Abdullah II to Rohani?

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.


This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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