In the early 1920s, The Hashemites controlled some of the most important countries in the Middle East including Iraq, Jordan and the Hejaz – the area of what is now Saudi Arabia where the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are located.
Hashemite rule over Hejaz ended in the 1920s when the British government made an ill-fated decision to back the Wahhabist House of Saud over the Hashemite King Ali, grand Sharif of Mecca and blood relative of The Prophet Mohammad.
Hashemite rule ended in Iraq during the 14 July Revolution of 1958 upon the execution of King Faisal II.
But Jordan remains a Hashemite kingdom, a key regional power and a stable country. For these reasons alone, when King Abdullah of Jordan speaks on the battle against ISIS, one ought to listen. Here’s what he had to say.
Although traditionally an Anglo-American ally, recently King Abdullah II has criticised both US and British policies and strategies (or lack thereof) in the region.
In particular he criticised the fact that many still think there is some practical relevance to the Syria-Iraqi border. Whilst of course both countries remain legally sovereign, the area is controlled by ISIS, who have effectively abolished the border.
The King called for a more concerted and realistic approach to fighting ISIS. Unlike the US and Britain, Jordan sits geographically near the front lines of a multi-party war that continues to rage in Syria and Iraq. Any fallout from the conflict could potentially impact on Jordan in a much more immediate war than the one faced by its friends on the Atlantic shoreline.
The King’s most crucial point was when he said something that far too many throughout the world are ignoring. Whilst slowly but surely ISIS will be defeated first in Syria and eventually in northern Iraq, they have made and continue to make colossal gains in Libya, which has effectively become a failed state where lawlessness is the rule and where blood is the currency.
King Abdullah said the following about the west’s blind eye towards the Libyan disaster:
“Well, the prime example, it’s as you see certain military successes in Syria and Iraq against Daesh (ISIS), the leadership, they’re telling their fighters either, “Don’t come to Syria or Iraq,” or moving their command structure to Libya. And so are we going to wait to get our act together to concentrate on Libya? And then, you know, do we wait a year or two to start helping the Africans deal with Boko Haram or Shabaab? So we’ve got to get ahead of the curve because they’re reacting much quicker than we are.”
Indeed the threat of ISIS taking control of Libya and then linking up with likeminded terrorists in Africa is a real threat.
The profound instability in Libya could make the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts look like a small preview of coming disasters.
In spite of Jordan’s alliance with the US rather than with Russia or President Assad, the King warned that Western soldiers will not be able to end the war in Syria and that only by having Syrian troops march in Syrian streets will there be a potential to solve a crisis which he warned would require a long and difficult battle.
Like relations with Egypt’s Mubarak and Sadat, Anglo-American/Jordanian relations are not as simplistic as they may appear.
It’s no good having a self-professed ally if one does not respect and understand the problems of the region in which the ally is located.
If the governments of the world were truly focused on fighting terrorists in the Levant and Maghreb, there would be a united front in this battle that would include the governments of Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, America, Iran, Britain and France; all countries which either border the war zone or have had traditional interests or alliances in the region.
This alliance would of course have to put local, legitimate authorities first, rather than dictate from the outside.
Russia’s respect for Syrian policy and Syrian sovereignty is a key example of how this could look.
It is extremely doubtful that this will happen as western powers continue to push a conflicted and at times devious agenda over what really matters; ridding the Middle East and wider world of ISIS style terrorism.
Sergey Lavrov’s message was dismissed disgracefully by the US, but what will they say when King Abdullah calls for a meaningful united front against terror? Will they ignore him too?