Weekend long read

1) At WINEP Ghaith al-Omari and Robert Satloff discuss the ‘Context and Implications of Jordan’s Royal Crisis’.

“Although it is too early to reach definitive conclusions, some familiar patterns are starting to take shape. Traditionally, serious domestic threats in the kingdom have tended to produce a “rally round the flag” dynamic. Similar to the 2005 al-Qaeda hotel bombings in Amman and the more recent Islamic State attacks against Jordanians, the Hamzah affair is being used to draw a sharp contrast between two realities: the less-than-ideal yet stable circumstances that currently characterize life in the kingdom, and the chaos that has defined neighboring countries since the Arab Spring. Official messaging also highlighted Hamzah’s alleged links with Jordanian dissidents abroad, many of whom are publicly discredited.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that these messages are resonating with many in the public; indeed, virtually no prominent, mainstream public figures have spoken out in support of Hamzah apart from his mother. And despite laying bare a long-simmering Hashemite feud, the situation may wind up easing domestic pressure on the palace in the short term by shifting attention away from COVID and other socioeconomic challenges.”

2) The FDD’s Emanuele Ottolenghi explains why ‘Iran’s Mischief in Morocco Is a Problem’.

“Moroccan intelligence services arrested a fifty-seven-year-old Lebanese national upon his entry to the country on Jan. 6. Little is known of him, except that he is a Hezbollah member who was caught carrying multiple European passports and identity cards, some of which had been reported stolen. […]

For Morocco, a historic bulwark of Islamic moderation and pro-Western policy in an otherwise restless region often convulsed by radicalism, this does not bode well, especially when taken together with accusations of Hezbollah’s support for Polisario. Tehran has dismissed the allegations as baseless, yet the Moroccans are adamant, and with good reason. Iran has historically supported any militancy against pro-Western regimes, regardless of their religious or political orientation.”

3) Michael Segall analyses the restart of talks between Iran and the US at the JCPA.

“U.S. President Joe Biden, who promised in his election campaign to return to the nuclear deal, is struggling to find the formula that would allow the Americans’ return – even a gradual return – to the nuclear deal because of Iran’s hardline positions, its severe violations of the nuclear deal, and many other obstacles to the U.S. return to the framework of the agreement. Among other things, Iran has increased the amount of uranium it possesses, increased the uranium enrichment level at the Fordo facility to 20 percent, reduced cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and even installed advanced centrifuges while continuing research and development. At the same time, according to a recent report by the IAEA, Iran continues its uranium enrichment efforts at the underground facility in Natanz, using advanced IR-2m centrifuges. All this is designed to increase the pressure on the United States.”

4) At the Fathom Journal, Natan Aridan looks at ‘Anglo-Israeli Relations 1948-1950’.

“The final hostilities in Israel’s War of Independence occurred that Friday afternoon, two hours before the UN ceasefire was to come into effect. Israel’s dilapidated air force shot down five RAF reconnaissance aircraft, sent to ascertain whether the IDF was still on Egyptian territory over the Negev-Sinai border. Two British pilots were killed, one succeeded in making his way back to Egyptian lines, and two were taken prisoners. Israel viewed British military flights between Jordan and Egypt over its airspace as a flagrant violation of international law. The incident was not without precedent. Britain’s disregard for Israel’s sovereignty caused Israel to treat the presence of all British planes as hostile. Three weeks earlier, Israel downed an RAF plane on a reconnaissance flight over the northern Negev.”

 

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