In a conversation last week with former U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Jordan’s King Abdullah II expressed concerns that Iranian forces in Syria could soon destabilize his country. Russia may soon redeploy assets and forces from Syria to their mired war effort in Ukraine, and Iran seeks to fill the void.
The Jordanian monarch asserted, “That vacuum [left by the Russians] will be filled by the Iranians and their proxies. So unfortunately, we are looking at maybe an escalation of problems on our borders.”
But challenges can also yield opportunity. In this case, Jordan’s security woes can help to cement an emerging alliance between Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These two unlikely partners both view Iran as a mortal enemy that threatens the broader Middle East. They both share borders with Jordan. And they both view Jordanian stability as critical to their national security.
Saudi Arabia is already mulling a move in this direction, particularly after the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020. When its neighbors United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized relations with Israel, Saudi Arabia seemed next in line. However, the leadership in Riyadh moves more slowly and deliberately than its Gulf partners.