Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a report on the security and political dynamics within Jordan. The third in a series on Islamists in the Middle East, this analysis was informed by extensive interviews conducted by CAP staff on the ground in Jordan in March.
The civil war in Syria has sent hundreds of thousands of refugees across Jordan’s northern border, and the same militants who are fighting in Syria and Iraq have the potential to destabilize Jordan. In the face of these considerable challenges, Jordan’s government remains resilient and one of the United States’ closest, most reliable, and most trusted partners in the Middle East. U.S. support for Jordan is urgently needed to help the country manage its serious security threats and humanitarian challenges. At the same time, Jordan should implement a pragmatic program of political and economic reform to help manage its demographic, social, and economic pressures.
“Jordan is a country sitting at the heart of regional turmoil – as witnessed in this week’s events with a terrorist organization’s takeover of a major city in Iraq,” said Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
As with elsewhere in the region, Jordan faces political and security challenges from a variety of Islamist groups ranging from the country’s Muslim Brotherhood organization to violent Salafi jihadists. Unlike other governments, however, Jordan has worked to neutralize the Muslim Brotherhood by bringing the organization into the political system. The country’s Salafi and jihadi movements, by contrast, have been energized by the ongoing civil war in Syria, and their enduring presence poses challenges to Jordan’s long-term stability, as well as questions about the long-standing ideological crosscurrents buffeting Jordan and the Middle East as a whole.
The key findings of the research conducted by the Center for American Progress on the ground in Jordan include:
The current Jordanian political system will endure, but external pressure is mounting.
The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is recalibrating and seeking coalitions amid the regional tide against Islamist organizations.
Salafi jihadists are emerging as the most imminent strategic and security threat to Jordan and its government.
The report also offers several recommendations for U.S. policymakers:
Continue support for Jordan in response to the Syria conflict.
Increase intelligence cooperation on the evolving nature of Islamist ideologies to help counter violent extremism.