Is embracing the Islamists the only way Abdullah can preserve his rule? Is preserving Abdullah the only way Islamists can prevent ‘Jordan’ becoming ‘Palestine?’
“We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are perpetual and eternal and those interests it is our duty to follow “– Lord Palmerston, British foreign secretary, 1848
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (The more things change, the more they stay the same) – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, 1849
The Lone Ranger, to his hitherto trustworthy American-Indian comrade, Tonto, on realizing they are surrounded by hostile Apaches: It looks like we’re in a lot of trouble, old friend! Tonto: What do you mean ‘we,’ Paleface? – an old joke
The eternal potential for perfidy – or at least the impermanence of loyalties – in pursuit of interests, personal or national, is being illustrated by the events unfolding in Jordan today. Crumbling of conventional wisdom?
It has long been a pillar of conventional wisdom in the Middle East that the Hashemite kingdom is a bastion of moderate pro-Western stability. Accordingly, it has been held that the relationship between the monarchy and radical elements in the Arab world in general, and among the Palestinian in particular, will inevitably be adversarial. Consequently, the assumption has been that, by their very nature and the nature of their goals, these elements necessarily are an existential threat to the regime in Amman.
Furthermore, with the eruption of the Arab Spring, the dominant view has been that the popular waves of support for resurgent Islam are a grave menace to the rule of incumbent autocrats, monarchical or military.
After all, Islamic regimes have risen in the wake of deposed dictatorships in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, while other are under siege in Syria and Yemen. The same scenario was presumed valid in Jordan.