Jordan: monthly report October 2023

In the current escalation of violence, the Lebanese-Israeli border is caught again in the crossfire between Hezbollah and the Israeli forces, with significant losses on both sides and among Lebanese civilians. Despite the increasing tensions along the Blue Line in southern Lebanon, where UNIFIL is deployed, Hezbollah and the Israeli government do not seem keen to be engulfed in a 2006 like-war scenario. Hezbollah’s hesitation would primarily stem from the risk of reputational damage within the Lebanese public. Indeed, with a three-digit annual inflation rate, an unprecedented lira depreciation, and a gradual decrease in foreign exchange reserves, Lebanon is already a battered economy. The banking sector’s collapse and public sector erosion and infrastructure deterioration, coupled with a high unemployment rate and the increase in social inequalities, clearly illustrate the Lebanese financial and economic crisis. Against this backdrop, if Hezbollah gets involved in the conflict, the evident economic damages associated with the war would be compounded by the risks to Lebanon’s security and territorial integrity. It is not by chance that since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, the Lebanese caretaker government led by Najib Mikati, and major political parties have been stressing to their regional and international partners the need for Lebanon to stay out of the conflict and strengthen its state institutions.

Yet, in the cost-benefit analysis of the prospects for Hezbollah’s involvement, some factors including the ongoing siege of Gaza, Israeli ground invasion of the Strip, and Hamas’ capabilities for a prolonged confrontation with Israel need to be counted. These scenarios, along with the risck of a new wave of forced and permanent displacement of Palestinians from their land, could potentially change the status quo, turning South Lebanon from a zone of military confrontation to a full war zone. In this regard, afterward his meeting with Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian publicly declared to be informed by Nasrallah about the party of God’s red lines and its readiness to assess “all the scenarios”. Amir-Abdollahian statements would be further corroborated by the meeting, held in Beirut, between Nasrallah, Palestine Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhla, and Hamas's number-two Saleh Al Arouri.

If the Israel-Hamas war spirals into a wider regional conflict, a conflagration of the Israeli-Lebanese border would also risk mobilizing ever more Iran-affiliated groups located in Syria. As showcased by rockets launched by Palestinian factions with links to Hezbollah against occupied Israeli Golan Heights, as well as the attacks against US military bases by the Iranian “rearguard” in eastern Deir Ez-Zor and Al-Hasakah and Homs governorates, these Iran-backed militias are exerting great influence on Syrian soil. Additionally, according to local sources, Ismail Qaani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), would have recently visited Syria to establish an operative zone close to the Golan Heights and bolster coordination among Iranian proxies operating there. Since the outbreak of the war, Israeli aviation has been striking military sites of pro-Iranian factions located in the eastern countryside of Quneitra and the western countryside of Daraa and it has positioned armored vehicles in occupied Israeli Golan Heights opposite to Quneitra governorate. The Israeli Air Force also repeatedly conducted simultaneous strikes against Aleppo and Damascus airports, allegedly to slow down (air) transport of weapons and military supplies sent by Teheran.

Due to geographic proximity and its large Palestinian population, Jordan is deeply concerned about the repercussions of the Israeli-Hamas war for its security and stability and those of the whole region. It is not by chance that Amman has asked the United States to deploy Patriot air defense systems on its soil to enhance security against ballistic missile threats. Concerns over the potential threat to Jordan airspace rose after Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched missiles targeting Israel.

Reportedly, one of the Houthi’s missiles fell in the Al-Mudawwara area, in Jordan's southeast Ma’an governorate. Concurrently, and similarly to Lebanon, pro-Palestinian protests, alternating with pro-Hamas slogans, have taken to the streets in Jordan, escalating significantly in the aftermath of Israel’s shelling of Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. Against this backdrop, authorities have adopted preventive measures, such as banning demonstrations and gatherings in the Jordan Valley and border areas, to ensure and maintain security therein.

This goes hand-in-hand with government-intensive diplomatic efforts to stop conflict in Gaza, promote immediate humanitarian truce in the Strip, and prevent any spillover of the crisis into the West Bank. This is in line with the draft resolution submitted by the Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on behalf of the Arab countries to the United Nations and adopted by the UN General Assembly on Oct. 27. On the occasion of the European tour in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany and during the meetings with both regional and international partners – including the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmud Abbas, and the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, – Abdullah II stressed that the region will never be secure or stable without the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace on the basis of the two-state solution. On various occasions, including at the Cairo Peace Summit, the King also reiterated the need to cease collective punishment of the entire civilian population in Gaza, calling any attempt to forcefully displace Palestinians from their land a “war crime” and a red line that cannot be crossed. In Cairo, Abdullah II denounced the “international apathy and inaction” – what he called the "global silence" – on indiscriminate Israel’s attacks on Gaza and the use of a double-standard narrative in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Download the October 2023 report

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