ABU DHABI // The UAE and Jordan’s leadership in the fight against extremism was highlighted by King Abdullah II’s arrival in the capital on Monday for discussions on security and extremism.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, met King Abdullah for talks on combating terrorism and providing peace and stability.
Jordan’s stability is a key concern in the region, because the country borders some of the Arab world’s hot spots, including Syria, Iraq and Palestine.
“Jordan is a key ally of this moderate axis headed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, professor of political science at UAE University and chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences.
“Jordan is a very important component and a pillar of moderation and stability. This kind of visit is an occasion to make sure that Jordan is cared for, provided for and given assurances that its stability is a top priority.”
Last year, the UAE ordered a squadron of F-16 fighter jets to Jordan to support the kingdom in air strikes against ISIL militants in Syria and Iraq.
“A Saudi-led effort is under way to bring the Islamic world together to combat the menace of terrorism. King Abdullah and the leadership of the UAE have been two of the most steadfast and credible opponents of violent extremism for a long time,” said Sabahat Khan, senior analyst at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.
“Jordan and the UAE will have a decisive leadership role to play in the coming years at the soft and hard power level against ISIL and other like-minded extremists, so there will be a discussion on how to work and partner together even more closely.”
The Syrian crisis will also likely be discussed, with Jordan shouldering the burden of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.
“Jordan is struggling to deal with the weight of Syrian refugees, so this could be another area for discussion in terms of what the UAE can do directly through assistance and indirectly with its international influence,” Mr Khan said.
“Jordan needs support to help alleviate the burden from the fallout of the Syrian civil war because this is an international issue and it needs a solid international response.”
Prof Abdulla said the kingdom was crucial in the response to the international crisis.
“The more there is support for Jordan to stay the course, the more crucial this moment is,” he said. “The security and stability of Jordan is key and it is very concerning because it is the closest to the volcano than anybody you could imagine at this point.”
King Abdullah’s visit comes shortly after the United States and Russia announced last month in Amman plans for a ceasefire in Syria.
“His visit comes on the heels of a momentous diplomatic scurry by the US and Russia to determine the fate of Syria and thus the geopolitical landscape of the region,” said Dr Albadr Al Shateri, National Defence College adjunct professor.
Dr Al Shateri noted that Jordanian prime minister Abdullah Ensour said the country was surrounded by “hellfire”, and “such perception calls for a constant coordination with all regional powers at the highest level”.
Apart from regional turmoil and terrorism, another main concern for Jordan was the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel’s obduracy in making concessions towards a peaceful settlement, Dr Al Shateri said. “Events in the Palestinian territories always have immense repercussions for Jordan.”