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Jordan: How Close to Danger?
Jordan: How Close to Danger?
The Horn: 2021 in the Horn of Africa
The Horn: 2021 in the Horn of Africa

Jordan: How Close to Danger?

Originally published in The New York Review of Books

Poor Jordan. A small, economically precarious country, it shares a two-hundred-mile border with Syria. Yet unlike Syria’s other neighbors, Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon, it rarely gets any attention in the international press. Indeed, while the world focuses on the European Union’s controversial deal with Turkey—in which Ankara has agreed to limit the number of asylum-seekers hoping to reach Greece’s shores in exchange for a lavish foreign aid package from Europe—hardly anything has been said about this crucial American ally on Syria’s southern border. But as I observed on a recent visit, Jordan is struggling to cope with vast numbers of refugees and an alarming rise in extremism. We ignore it at our peril.

On paper, the size of the Syrian influx should have turned Jordan into a basket case. The Hashemite Kingdom has a per capita GDP of just over $5,000, and its official youth unemployment rate is around 30 percent. Though it is about half the size of Oklahoma, it has received perhaps three quarters of a million refugees since the war began—there are some 630,000 registered with the UN, but many more according to the authorities—meaning that Syrians now constitute about a tenth of Jordan’s population of 6.4 million. This is on top of a very large wave of Iraqis who came during the Iraq War a decade ago. How to feed this many, and provide them with potable water? How to school them, and how to employ them, especially when Jordanians themselves have trouble finding work?

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Podcast / Africa

The Horn: 2021 in the Horn of Africa

This week, Alan Boswell is joined by Crisis Group’s Project Director for the Horn of Africa Murithi Mutiga to discuss what he’s watching for across the region in 2021.

S2 Episode 9: 2021 in the Horn of Africa

Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Director Murithi Mutiga joins Alan Boswell to debate which regional conflicts and crises are most prominent on their radars for 2021.

From the myriad political and security crises in Ethiopia ahead of elections to the enduring economic woes troubling Sudan’s transition, this year promises to be pivotal.

Murithi tells Alan that much hinges on political elites’ capacity for dialogue, compromise and reform. Recent events have demonstrated how easily unrest can reverberate across borders, so whether our gaze is on who emerges successful out of Somalia’s polls or what Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki is planning, it is how these dynamics overlap that will prove most telling. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore our work on the Horn of Africa region here.