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News Analysis

Jordan's King Strategizes With Opposition Against Brotherhood

Sun, December 16, 2012

by: 
Ryan Mauro

Jordanian King Abdullah II gave a dire warning in a private meeting about a “new extremist alliance” including Muslim Brotherhood-run Egypt, reports Al-Hayat. Abdullah said that the alliance includes two Arab countries and another one in the region, likely referring to Iran and Syria. The unidentified Arab country could also have been Qatar, which is subsidizing the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.

Though Middle Eastern leaders are publicly fixated on Israel, it is telling that it was not even mentioned as a component of the threat facing Jordan. Abdullah understands that it is the Islamists that must be worried about. The United Arab Emirates seems to agree, as it publicly called for a coalition to oppose to the Muslim Brotherhood in October.

Abdullah made the remarks at a private meeting with non-Islamist opposition figures on December 10. He understands that a primary reason for the Brotherhood’s success is that it is a master of political coalition-building. He is now trying to beat them at their own game, seeing an opportunity because of the Brotherhood’s overreach in Egypt that has alienated its former coalition partners. The feedback from the meeting is that it resulted in an “unprecedented breakthrough” that could peel liberal opposition elements away, isolating the Jordanian Islamists.

A new partnership between Abdullah’s government and the liberal opposition elements could provide a model for U.S. strategy and for other undemocratic governments facing similar challenges. It would be a model that addresses the dilemma of a pro-democratic foreign policy that plays into the hands of Islamists. Jordan will take steps on the road to democracy, hand-in-hand with the liberal opposition, without falling into the Islamist pothole.

The Jordanian King is also considering how to use his “bargaining chips” against Egypt. He holds Egypt responsible for his domestic troubles, as 80% of Jordan’s natural gas was imported from there until a string of bombings interrupted service. He apparently believes that the Brotherhood-run Egyptian government is dragging its heels in fully resuming the exports in order to help the Jordanian opposition. Abdullah is now looking at retaliatory measures.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is lobbying the Gulf Cooperation Council to come to Abdullah’s rescue financially.

If Abdullah wins over his non-Islamist opponents, he may want to write a thank-you letter to Mohammed Morsi. By winning Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood may have lost Jordan and undermined its own prospects elsewhere.

Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.