As war rages in Gaza, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to escalate, causing grievous harm to civilians and threatening stability across the Middle East. Crisis Group experts offer a 360-degree view of how various capitals in the region view this crisis and their own interests therein.
Iran-backed Iraqi umbrella group conducted first deadly strike on U.S. forces in region since Gaza war; Jordan’s military continued airstrikes in Syria aimed at combatting smuggling.
Iran-backed militants killed three U.S. troops at base in north east. In significant escalation, Tehran-aligned Iraqi umbrella group Islamic Resistance in Iraq – likely operating in Syria – 28 Jan launched drone strike on U.S. base in Jordan’s north east, known as Tower 22, killing three U.S service members and wounding at least 34; U.S. President Biden vowed retaliation, saying “we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing”. Since Gaza war, militants have launched over 160 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, although causing no fatalities until 28 Jan.Jordan-Syrian border remained wracked by instability. After deadly clashes erupted between Jordanian security forces and militants/drug smugglers from Syria in Dec, Jordanian jets 4 Jan launched airstrike in Syria’s Suwayda province and 9 Jan launched four airstrikes in same area; security forces 7 Jan killed five drug traffickers in gun battle on Jordanian-Syrian border. Jordan 18 Jan reportedly struck two houses in Syria’s Arman town in Suwayda, reportedly killing nine people, including children. Amman blames Iran-backed militant groups in govt-controlled areas of Syria for surge of cross-border smuggling activity.
The quarter-century mark of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty has passed with little fanfare, as key constituencies in both countries question its core premises. The Trump administration’s policies and peace plan sharpen doubts. Reviving the 1994 deal’s spirit is important for Israel, Jordan and the region.
As the Syrian regime masses its forces to recapture the country’s south west from the opposition, another humanitarian disaster looms. The U.S., Russia and Jordan, which brokered a south-western ceasefire in 2017, should urgently extend that truce in preparation for a broader settlement.
The season of Arab uprisings has not engulfed Jordan, but nor has it entirely passed the nation by. Pillars of the regime are showing cracks, and it ultimately will have to either undertake sweeping change or experience far-reaching turmoil.
A refugee crisis was feared before the coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003, but it came later than anticipated, and on a greater scale.
The horrifying 9 November 2005 suicide attacks against three hotels in Amman – with a toll of 60 dead and over 100 wounded – drove home two important messages.
This briefing is one of a series of occasional ICG briefing papers and reports that will address the issue of political reform in the Middle East and North Africa. The absence of a credible political life in most parts of the region, while not necessarily bound to produce violent conflict, is intimately connected to a host of questions that affect its longer-term stability:
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