Docs reveal how British intelligence controls Jordan’s media

June 05 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

UK contractors sought to create a covert newsroom to strategically flood Jordan’s mainstream and social media with a stream of self-serving propaganda.

By Kit Klarenberg

Leaked submissions to the British Foreign Office reviewed by The Cradle expose how the UK infiltrates Jordan’s communications structures at the highest levels, in turn exerting vast, insidious influence over the country’s media and, therefore, public perceptions within the country – and West Asia more widely.

These papers show that under the aegis of countering ISIS propaganda, London sought to install operatives within Jordan’s Strategic Communications Unit (JSU) – a Jordanian entity “composed of representatives from a variety of different GoJ departments and institutions, which of course includes the RHC (royal court), but also the Ministry of Information, Jordanian Armed Forces, Ministry of Interior and the Public Security Directorate.”

These operatives would create a dedicated “covert newsroom” to publish a relentless flow of “unattributable” multimedia content extolling “patriotic national narratives” and anti-extremist messaging. This output would then be amplified, whether wittingly or unwittingly, by local and regional news outlets.

British intelligence cutout Albany Associates submitted a detailed pitch for the half a million pound project, which London was keen to complete by the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

“With our support, the JSU will become empowered to win and dominate the contest for the information space,” Albany pledged.

The company went on to outline a detailed plan. Along the way, it promised to match the visual impact of ISIS’ propaganda with “powerful pictures” of its own, in the form of images and videos.

“We recommend the JSU content be a mixture of short-form videos, audio, images, infographics, blogs, opinion pieces, facilitated real-time Q&A with CSOs, key influencers, etc. We will advise on curating and sharing relevant and interesting third-party content that supports the [government’s] aims,” the pitch continued. “We will identify the most popular Jordanian influencers on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google+, bloggers, and other social media channels and evolve strategies to engage with them, helping the amplification and advocacy of our messages.”

This would, in part, be achieved by “discretely [leveraging] local and regional networks, and citizen user, activist, and NGO generated content and challenge and surpass that of the opposition.” The newsroom’s “strategic focus” would be “local voices turning local conversations.”

“All content must be on-message with the core narrative and key messages of the JSU strategic aims to provide continuity and authenticity,” Albany explained.

Noting the government of Jordan had hitherto “predominantly used traditional and old media to issue statements and information,” Albany proposed tutoring Amman’s security and intelligence agencies on how to use an array of social media platforms, editing software, and accompanying tools. This included surveillance resources, both to identify key target audiences for the newsroom’s covert state propaganda, but also “listen to and monitor Jordanian influencers and stakeholders who share ideas and content that support the mission of the JSU.”

Covering tracks

Concealing Britain’s involvement in the covert newsroom was of absolutely paramount importance. Being “associated with a regional or western government” was judged a “major” risk, which Albany would mitigate by ensuring the effort’s foreign funding and management “will not be evident in the branding … of content or chosen messages.”

Should the covert newsroom elicit “unwanted media attention” and resultant press inquiries, “procedures and pre-agreed lines to take” would be in place. Only “in the event of operational security breach” was Britain’s involvement to be admitted “based on a predetermined narrative.”

“The JSU is operating in a tense and deeply suspicious media environment. The most obvious question people ask themselves is, ‘who created this content, and why?’” Albany noted. “Past modus operandi in such circumstances is to launch overt counter-propaganda in the expectation that the media will transmit it faithfully, and target audiences will believe it … Our job with the JSU is to go about things differently, using the balance and content to create credibility and persuasion to achieve objectives.”

This caution extended to only using media channels already popular with target audiences that would not “raise suspicion among grassroots and activist consumers of media.” The covert newsroom’s output was to at all times “reflect the ways in which target audiences consume their information.” There was also concern about which local and international “celebrities” would be used to lend an imprimatur of popular independence to the JSU’s content.

‘Using Jordan’s influencers’

“Rock star’ amplification is a very useful tactic to increase reach and impact. However, it can backfire … If they are associated with a particular political position, then so will the content be,” Albany warned. “They still can be of beneficial use, if the proper research is done first to establish their political stances, the potential reach is weighed up against the risks involved, and the JSU understands clearly the limits within which the rock star will be used.”

Should a “rock star” relationship “turn out negatively,” the “unbranded” nature of newsroom communications would mean “no associations will be made in the popular perception of content that features the rock star and content that does not … other areas of operations will continue unaffected.”

Proposed “celebrities” for the project included “female religious preachers,” former ISIS fighters, “victims, families of victims, and families of fighters,” activists such as Deema Alam Farraj, who is described as “a strong female role model,” satirical websites such as local online entertainment network Kharabeesh, and youth-focused comedy platform Fooq Alsada. 

Such secrecy is supremely striking, given one of the covert newsroom’s core stated objectives was reducing the perception of the government of Jordan as “agents of the West, and particularly the US, in the region.”

Information warfare, not journalism

In a perverse irony, an internal “mentor” for the project, to be embedded within the JSU and train Jordanian underlings in the art of information warfare, was a British Army reservist who had been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo. Boasting “five years of operational strategic communications experience” for London and Washington and high-level security clearance, he was said to have “created and led press teams in some of the most hostile environments.”

This included spending 2011 at the head of the Pentagon’s Strategic Programs Operations Center in Baghdad. There, he ran programs surreptitiously exploiting “credible and authentic” civil society voices to “create the most powerful impact” in campaigns promoting “political reconciliation” and “national identity.” He also personally developed a computer game “to target Iraqi youth audiences.”

This background should amply underline the dark reality that, whatever good Albany’s intervention may possibly have achieved in deterring Jordanian citizens from the destructive clutches of ISIS and other extremist groups in West Asia, the newsroom’s true purpose was to aggressively assert self-serving narratives – and therefore British and American control over Amman, and neighboring countries.

The assortment of “national narratives” and “key messages” Albany crafted avowedly sought to perpetuate sought to “facilitate and further” the Royal Hashemite Court’s “priorities.” This dynasty was, of course, installed on thrones across West Asia by the British following World War I.

Moreover, “opposition” within Jordan is far from restricted to violent fundamentalist fraternities. Over the past decade, Amman has passed a number of sweeping anti-terror laws, criminalizing even the mildest forms of dissent as threats to the state. Today, both domestic and visiting foreign journalists and activists are frequently subject to harassment, arrest, and prosecution for their reporting and social media activity.

Albany’s cloak-and-dagger creation of an internal, spy-run newsroom to deluge media outlets with slick propaganda posing as independent, grassroots citizen journalism provided another means by which to suppress inconvenient truths and critical viewpoints Jordan’s current ruler, King Abdullah II – himself a British Army veteran – and his western backers do not want in the public domain.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Israeli Provocations: Ben-Gvir Raids Al-Aqsa, Controversial Weekly Meeting Underground

 May 21, 2023

Today, on Sunday, the Israeli occupation government is set to convene its weekly meeting in the tunnels of the Al-Buraq Wall, located beneath the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque. This marks the second time they have chosen this location for their meeting, the first being in 2017.

The Israeli occupation government has announced that the meeting will be overseen by the self-proclaimed Ministry of Jerusalem, aimed at endorsing projects to Judaize the city. Of primary concern is a five-year plan from 2023 to 2027, focusing on the so-called Judaizing holy wicker project.

To add on, under heavy police protection, dozens of extremist Israeli settlers, led by hard-right Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, forcefully entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem this morning.

This is the second occasion where this hawkish Israeli minister has trespassed into this Islamic holy site since assuming his ministerial position.

Asserting his authority, Ben-Gvir proclaimed, “We are in charge here,” as he roamed the site. He expressed his delight in ascending to the Temple Mount, a site of utmost significance to the Jewish people.

Following Ben-Gvir’s unauthorized entry, additional groups of Israeli Jewish settlers were permitted into the compound, where they conducted rituals under the watchful gaze of the police.

Situated in occupied Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque holds tremendous sanctity for Muslims and is recognized as the third holiest site in Islam. Historically, it served as the original Qibla, the direction to which Muslims turned for prayer, before Mecca in Saudi Arabia became the new Qibla.

Wide Condemnations

The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs has unequivocally condemned Itamar Ben-Gvir’s violation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem. Ambassador Sinan Al-Majali, spokesperson for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, labeled Ben-Gvir’s intrusion as “provocative, condemned, dangerous, and unacceptable.” He emphasized that it constitutes a blatant transgression of international law, as well as the established historical and legal status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

Al-Majali cautioned against the continuous assaults by Israel on Islamic and Christian sacred places in Jerusalem. He also highlighted the unilateral measures of settlement expansion and daily incursions into Palestinian communities, warning that such actions could lead to further escalations, demanding immediate intervention from the international community to prevent them.

Furthermore, Al-Majali emphasized that the Al-Aqsa Mosque, encompassing its entire 144-dunum area, is a sacred place of worship for Muslims. He reiterated that the Jerusalem Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs Department, affiliated with the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, is the legitimate authority with exclusive jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including determining who is granted access.

Al-Majali called upon Israel, the occupying power, to cease all practices and violations in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and to refrain from any measures intended to alter the existing historical and legal status quo of this revered site.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for President Mahmoud Abbas, vehemently condemned Itamar Ben-Gvir’s trespass into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, deeming it a flagrant assault on this holy place, which will bear severe consequences.

Abu Rudeineh affirmed that attempts by Ben-Gvir and other extremists to alter the status quo of the Al-Aqsa Mosque are unequivocally condemned and rejected, and are destined to fail. He underscored that the Palestinian people will vigilantly protect their sacred site.

The presidential spokesperson stressed that Ben-Gvir’s violation demands immediate action from the international community, particularly the United States administration, to preserve the status quo in Jerusalem.

“Harming the Al-Aqsa Mosque is akin to playing with fire, and it will ignite a religious war with unimaginable consequences that will affect everyone,” he concluded.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Coverage| Israeli Occupation Kills Palestinian in West Bank Raid, Arrests Jordanian MP

 April 24, 2023

Israeli occupation forces killed a Palestinian young man and injured several others in a brutal raid on Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho on Monday, hours after occupation authorities arrested a Jordanian member of parliament over alleged “smuggling of arms and gold” into the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian media initially said that four Palestinians were injured after Israeli occupation forces raided Aqabat Jabr camp, prompting clashes with residents.

Other raids were also reported by Palestinian media in Nablus and Jenin, where a number of Palestinians were arrested by IOF.

Earlier on Sunday, Israeli occupation authorities held and interrogated Imad al-Adwan, a member of Jordan’s parliament who had crossed a main border crossing along the Jordan River by car, Sinan Majali, a Jordanian foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a statement to state media.

“Israel” detains Jordanian MP

“The ministry and all relevant agencies in the kingdom are working to ascertain the details of this issue and address it as quickly as possible,” Majali said.

Al-Adwan had been arrested “for interrogation in a case concerning alleged smuggling of quantities of weapons and gold”, he said.

Al-Adwan, 35, is a member of the Jordanian parliament’s Palestine Committee.

Israeli media reported that he was arrested at the King Hussein Bridge (Allenby) border crossing in the occupied West Bank. There has been no official comment from Israeli occupation authorities on al-Adwan’s arrest.

Source: Palestinian and Israeli media (translated and edited by Al-Manar English Website)


Iran: Apartheid “Israel” Biggest Threat to Region, Muslim Nation

April 22, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian considered that the apartheid “Israeli” entity to be “the biggest threat to the region and the international Muslim Nation.”

Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks on Thursday in a phone call with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi.

The Iranian top diplomat also laid emphasis on the necessity for the existence of unity across the Muslim world in the face of the occupying regime, the need to cut the regime’s hands off the al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound in the holy occupied city of al-Quds’ Old City — which is Islam’s third holiest site, and the importance of complete restoration of Palestinians’ rights.

Turning to the issue of the bilateral ties, Amir-Abdollahian pointed to his visit earlier this year to Amman, and announced the Islamic Republic’s readiness for expansion of the level of relations and cooperation between the countries.

For his part, Safadi stressed his country’s support for regional peace and stability, and defense of the holy sites in Al-Quds in the face of the Zionists’ acts of aggression.

He further hailed Iran to be “an important country in the region”, pointing out that Amman attached “great importance” to further development of its ties with Tehran.

Safadi, meanwhile, welcomed the recent reconciliation agreement reached between Iran and Saudi Arabia under the auspices of China in Beijing.

Also on Thursday, Amir-Abdollahian talked on the phone with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan.

The officials described as positive the process of underway work by the technical teams that have been exchanged mutually to lay the groundwork for the reopening of each country’s Embassy and Consulate on the other’s soil.

The Iranian official expressed hope that the Iranian Embassy in Riyadh and its Consulate General in the port city of Jeddah be opened in time before this year’s Hajj Pilgrimage.

The Saudi official said the kingdom would do its part to contribute to the prospect, and also hoped that the top diplomats would meet each other in the countries’ respective capitals in the near future.


Amman Hosts 5-Party Meeting on Syria’s Return to Arab League

 April 30, 2023

Foreign Ministers of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will meet on Monday in Amman to discuss Damascus’ return to the Arab League.

In a statement, Jordanian Foreign Ministry announced it will host the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Republic of Iraq, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, as well as the foreign minister of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The official spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs, Ambassador Sinan Al-Majali, said that the meeting comes as a continuation of the consultative meeting that took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and based on rapprochements made by these countries with the Syrian government. The Jordan initiative wants a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

The top diplomats called for an end to the crisis in Syria, on April 18, after the foreign ministers from Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states met in Jeddah. The group agreed on a “vital and leading Arab role” after years of failed efforts to solve the conflict.

Following the meeting, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wrote in a statement, that “they have exchanged viewpoints on the efforts being exerted to reach a political solution for the Syrian crisis in a way that puts an end to all its repercussions and preserves Syria’s territorial unity, security, stability and Arab identity and brings it back to its Arab fold.”

On the 18th of April, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud visited Syria in the first official visit since the outbreak of the 2011 war.

Source: Agencies

The Syrian Earthquake Has United the Arab World

Steven Sahiounie


Close to 9 million people in Syria have been affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, 65 seconds in duration on February 6, that Turkish President Erdogan has compared with the power released by atomic bombs. The hardest hit areas are Latakia, Aleppo, and Idlib.

The UN estimates that more than 4.2 million people have been affected in Aleppo province with 400,000 homeless, and 5,000 buildings declared unlivable. Aleppo has more than 1,600 dead and 10,000 injured.

The province of Idlib is a total population estimated at 3 million, but because there is no government or authority there, we can only guess how many have been affected.

UAE Aid plane landing in Aleppo International Airport

The UN says 5.5 million Syrians are without a home after the earthquake, with more than 7,400 buildings having been destroyed completely, or partially in Syria.

In Latakia, there are 820 dead, 142,000 homeless, and over 2,000 injured, with 102 buildings completely collapsed, and others condemned.

A total of 58 trucks have crossed from Turkey to north-west Syria through the Bab al Hawa crossing point over the past five days, carrying aid such as food, tents, and medicines. Those trucks are solely supplying Idlib, under the occupation of the armed group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Eleven trucks have gone through the newly opened border crossing of Bab al Salam today, carrying non-food items such as blankets, and mattresses.

Iraqi AAid plan landing in Damascus international Airport

Location matters in this quake

The map will show that Aleppo, Syria is just south of Gaziantep, Turkey which was the epicenter. Aleppo was heavily damaged in the earthquake, adding more misery to a city that was under the occupation of Al Qaeda terrorists in the eastern section until being liberated in December 2016.

Looking at a map, you see that Latakia is a 2 ½ hour drive west of Aleppo on the M4 highway. It seems like a long distance, but the power of the 7.8 magnitude brought the epicenter and Latakia together because they share the same fault line, which Aleppo does not.

Tunisian Aid plane landing in Aleppo International Airport

UN: no roadblocks to aid, no politics

Rula Amin, UN Refugee Agency Senior Communications Advisor, urged cooperation among nations to help Turkey and Syria. She said there should be no roadblocks to assistance for people in need. Referring to the UN and western aid coming almost exclusively to Idlib, and by-passing those in need in Latakia and Aleppo, she urged all to put politics aside, and focus on getting aid to those in need regardless of whether they are in the US-EU supported area in Idlib, or whether they live in Aleppo and Latakia under the Syrian administration from Damascus. Amin is no stranger to Syria. In March 2011, Amin was one of the very first international journalists in Deraa, covering what she had claimed was a ‘popular uprising’, and even interviewed the cleric who was the key player of the Obama-designed US-NATO attack on Syria for ‘regime change

.’ She did not go as far as to demand the lifting of all US-EU sanctions on Syria to send aid, but her meaning was clear. The sanctions prevent aid from arriving in Damascus. On February 9 the US Department of the Treasury issued General License 23, which allows for a humanitarian waiver of supplies to government-controlled areas in Syria, but must be received by an NGO and not the Syrian government. The 180-day waiver is far too short, as the need is enormous, and will people will need years to grapple with the damages.  Rebuilding homes and businesses may take a decade or more. Also, most governments abroad would be sending official aid to Syria through a government-to-government mechanism, and using an NGO is a tedious stipulation designed to discourage aid from being sent.

Who gave to Damascus?

On Tuesday, a plane landed from Saudi Arabia at the Aleppo International Airport, carrying 35 tons of humanitarian aid.  Aid to Damascus also arrived from: ChinaRussia, AlgeriaIraqIranUAE, BangladeshLibyaBelarusJordanCuba, Venezuela, Tunisia, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Cyprus, Hungary, India, and Sudan.

Jordanian Aid plane landing in Damascus international Airport

Italy sent two planeloads of aid to Beirut, Lebanon to be transported to Syria by land. This demonstrates the extreme fear that western allies of the US have of the sanctions. By sending the aid to Lebanon, which is not sanctioned, Italy feels more comfortable that the US Treasury will not issue massive penalties against them.

Who refused aid to Damascus?

The US, the EU, and all US allies such as Canada have sent nothing to Syria for the earthquake-ravaged zones of Latakia and Aleppo.  According to America, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the allies of the US, there is no place called Syria.  There is only a small, rural agricultural province called Idlib.  Syria is 10,000 years old, and Damascus and Aleppo both tie as the undisputed oldest inhabited cities on earth.  But the great minds in Washington, DC. only acknowledge the tiny area called Idlib.  The terrorist-controlled Idlib is suffering, and has innocent unarmed civilians in need of help; however, Latakia, and Aleppo are far bigger and have sustained more deaths, injuries, and structural damages than Idlib. The US and the west have used politics to judge who gets helped, and who is forgotten. The Syrian people will never forget this. The US and EU sanctions have made life unbearable in Syria before the earthquake of the century, and now when politics should be set aside for humanitarian needs, the US doggedly holds on to their dogmatic ideology to make sure the Syrian people know the full disdain of the American government. The Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates visited Damascus and met with President Assad after the quake, in an act of defiance of US-dictated policy.

Algerian aid plane in Aleppo International Airport

Where is Government controlled Syria?

The US-NATO attack on Syria beginning in March 2011 has resulted in three separate administrations in Syria.  The biggest territory, about 75%, is the central government in Damascus. Aleppo and Latakia are the two hardest hit by the earthquake which is under the Damascus administration.

The second administration is the province of Idlib, which is an olive-growing region between Latakia and Aleppo. There is no government there.  The 3 million persons there live under the occupation of an armed terrorist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly called Jibhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. The terrorists embedded themselves there in 2012, and until now are safe from attack because the US, EU, and UN all lobby for their protection, and aid. The US supports the Al Qaeda terrorists because they represent the US interests in Syria to be decided upon in a final political settlement in Syria under the auspices of the UN.

The third administration is the Kurdish self-proclaimed region of the northeast, where the US military is occupying the Syrian oil wells, and allowing the Kurds to sell the stolen oil in Iraq to cover their expenses. This area was not affected by the earthquake. This administration exists separate from Damascus only because of the US military illegal occupation

Where is Idlib?

Many of the residents of Idlib most affected by the earthquake have had to sleep outside among the olive groves, in freezing temperatures. The UN acknowledged the international response to Idlib has been a failure.

Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets, an award-winning video troupe headquartered in Washington, DC. has denounced the UN as incompetent in their response to the needs in Idlib. The White Helmets work solely in Idlib and have international donors. Al-Saleh was angry after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Syrian President Assad had agreed to allow UN aid deliveries to the area through two border crossings from Turkey for three months. The White Helmets and the terrorists do not recognize the Syrian government.  Damascus had tried to send aid to Idlib, but the terrorists turned it back saying, “We don’t want help from the enemy.”  Previously the UN trucks of aid to Idlib were also stalled after the terrorists demanded a $1,000 fee for each of the 10 trucks.

Why are the borders controlled?

The Syrian government has controlled the border crossings of Syria for security reasons. Serena Shim, an American journalist from Detroit, witnessed and reported seeing a UN food truck carrying Al Qaeda terrorists, and their weapons, from Turkey into Syria near Idlib. She was murdered in Turkey just days after publishing her report.

The terrorists in Idlib are contained in a small area and have weapons including missiles which have frequently been directed at Latakia, and Kessab, a small Christian Armenia village just north of Latakia. The Syrian government wants to keep the weapons from flowing into Idlib while allowing UN, and other humanitarian aid to flow into the 3 million civilians who are held there as human shields.

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist

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Deputy PM Safadi Meets President Assad, Conveys Jordan’s Support to Syria

 February 15, 2023

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received Wednesday, Ayman Safadi, Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates.

Al-Safadi conveyed to President al-Assad greetings and condolences of His Majesty King Abdullah II, stressing that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, leadership and people, stand in solidarity with the Syrian people for what they have suffered as a result of the earthquake, “and will continue, under recommendations of the King, to provide everything possible to help Syria to overcome this ordeal and support the Syrian government’s efforts to provide relief to those affected.”

Al-Safadi considered that the world’s states should deal with this catastrophe in accordance with humanitarian principles, so that the required aid and relief materials are delivered to all the areas affected by the quake without discrimination or politicizing the humanitarian situation experienced by the Syrians.

President al-Assad, voiced Syria’s appreciation for the official and popular stance of brotherly Jordan, noting that the Syrians welcome and act positively with any good stance towards them, particularly from the Arab brothers.

President al-Assad underscored the importance of bilateral cooperation between Syria and Jordan, adding “owing to the geographical and popular extension between the two countries, the two peoples live with similar challenges and circumstances at many levels, and at the same time this provides opportunities for joint action in many domains that benefit the two brotherly peoples”.


Jordan’s Game of Thrones: Power struggle of the Hashemite family

February 14 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

The Jordanian monarchy is facing an uncertain future due to internal conflicts over which Queen’s son will succeed to the throne. Amid ongoing public protests against corruption and economic decline, this royal power struggle could have regional geopolitical implications.

By Firas Al-Shoufi

Recent protests in Jordan have highlighted the country’s political and economic instability, fueled in part by rising prices and deteriorating living conditions. Once a vital regional mediator, the absence of a significant role for Jordan in its neighborhood – and its utter dependence on foreign handouts – has also contributed to this unrest.

This public unrest also conceals an ongoing struggle over power and wealth within the Hashemite royal family. The competition is not limited to King Abdullah II and his half brother, former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, but also includes Queen Rania, mother of current Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, and former Queen Noor Al-Hussein, mother of Prince Hamzah.

The failed coup

On 3 April, 2021, Jordanian authorities made the stunning announcement that they had foiled an attempted coup, and accused Prince Hamzah of conspiring against the kingdom, alongside a group of high-ranking figures. Among those implicated was Bassem Awadallah, a former chief of the royal court and finance minister who, until his arrest, was a close associate of King Abdullah II and one of the most prominent financial advisers to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

Awadallah – who has reportedly gone on a hunger strike this week – and Hassan bin Zaid, the king’s special envoy to Saudi Arabia, were subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison after being charged with “incitement against the ruling system” and “sedition.”

While the charge sheet acknowledged Prince Hamzah’s direct involvement in the plot, he himself was not on trial. Instead, King Abdullah chose to handle the matter within the confines of the royal family, placing his half-brother under house arrest and limiting his movements and communications.

The conflict between the two brothers is not new and has its roots in the appointment of Abdullah II as crown prince by their father King Hussein, who deposed his brother Hassan bin Talal while on his deathbed. The country’s 1951 constitution stipulates that a monarch’s sons should be the succeeding king and crown prince, with Abdullah expected to appoint his brother Hamzah as his successor.

Hamzah, the true heir

One former Jordanian diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed to The Cradle that:

“Abdullah pledged to his late father in 1998 not only to appoint Hamzah as crown prince, but also to hand over power to him after five years, which Abdullah did not abide by. Instead, he relieved Hamzah of his duties on November 28, 2004, and the line of succession moved automatically to Abdullah’s eldest son, Prince Hussein. In July 2009, Abdullah affirmed this change by officially naming Hussein crown prince.”

According to the diplomat, King Hussein was grooming Hamzah for succession while Abdullah was not yet in a position of power and had difficulty speaking Arabic. The late king had appointed Samih al Batikhi, his national security advisor, to oversee the transfer of power, but Abdullah removed him from power and had him imprisoned on corruption charges in 2003.

A veteran journalist based in Amman suggests that Abdullah was simply not willing to hand over the kingship to Hamzah five years after their father’s death:

“Maybe King Hussein would have preferred Hamzah to succeed him, but Abdullah was not about to give up power at a delicate moment for Jordan and the region, after the occupation of Iraq and the death of Yasser Arafat, not to mention that he was receiving American support.”

Abdications and dispossessions

In his struggle against Hamzah, Abdullah has resorted to accusing him of insanity and of “conspiring with an external party,” without elaboration. Rumors have circulated in the country about MbS’s alleged support for Hamzah’s failed coup, but these allegations lack evidence and were countered by Saudi Arabia’s declaration of support for King Abdullah.

The Hashemite family has a history of conspiracies, deceptions, conflicts, and external interference during the transfer of the throne from Abdullah I to Al-Hussein, and then to Abdullah II. Prince Talal bin Abdullah I, the father of Hussein, faced the same charge of insanity and was overthrown in 1952 with the support of the British.

The strong man in the regime at that time, Sharif Nasser bin Jamil (brother of Queen Zain, Hussein’s mother) played a major role in King Hussein’s ascension to the throne. Later, Hussein sought to depose his brother Crown Prince Hassan in favor of Abdullah, using the constitutional right for a son to succeed the monarch, but Hassan bowed out gracefully and submitted his own resignation.

Although Hamzah has distanced himself from the public eye and relinquished his title of prince in the spring of 2022, King Abdullah II is still concerned about his brother’s strong influence among various Jordanian clans, such as Al-Huwaitat, Bani Sakhr, Bani Hassan, and others.

Rampant corruption

The former crown prince enjoys a good reputation among these groups, untainted by corruption, while the king’s image is being tarnished by the worsening economic crisis and the financial scandals surrounding his personal wealth – estimated at over $500 million as revealed in the “Pandora Papers.” As the aforementioned diplomatic source says:

“Corruption has always existed in Jordan. During the reign of King Hussein, commissions were deducted from foreign deals. Today, news has been circulating about huge deposits owned by the king abroad, and about transferring ownership of state lands to his personal account.”

The journalist in Amman highlights the scandal of the British Tornado planes, where the price of the planes and King Hussein’s commission were alleged to have been paid from the money of the Persian Gulf monarchies. But the deal was halted after the scandal was exposed. He notes that “today, in the absence of Gulf money and external support, any waste or corruption will be at the expense of the Jordanian treasury.”

According to The Observer on 19 March, 1989, the share of the king and the intermediaries in the £800 million deal for Jordan to acquire eight Tornado fighters was reportedly up to 30 percent.

The rivalry of Queens

The journalist believes that the main reason for the conflict between King Abdullah II and former Queen Noor – Hamzah’s mother – is her control of King Hussein’s estate outside Jordan: “We are talking here about $1.4 billion worth of funds and property around the world controlled by Queen Noor.”

A parallel power struggle between Queen Rania and former Queen Noor is playing out in tandem with the battle over the royal estate: Both are vying to secure the succession of their respective sons to the Jordanian throne.

Queen Rania is leveraging her position as the current queen to pave the way for her son, Hussein II, to ascend to power, while Noor is seeking to exploit her ties to the US Democratic Party as a counterweight to King Abdullah’s close relationship with the Pentagon.

The accession of either Prince Hussein or Prince Hamzah to the throne would have far-reaching implications for the structure of royal rule in Jordan. Since Queen Rania is of Palestinian origin, some east Jordanians fear that if Hussein bin Abdullah takes the throne, it could result in the end of Hashemite rule in favor of Palestinians, and the realization of the “alternative Palestinian homeland” project – a notion that has long been used by the Hashemite family to maintain the loyalty of Jordanian clans.

The 1987 disengagement between Jordan and the West Bank lacks legal validity since the Jordanian constitution still recognizes the West Bank as part of Jordanian territory. In a June 2022 article on Al-Arabiya, Saudi journalist Ali al-Shihabi proposed the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Jordan and the establishment of a kingdom for Palestinians and Jordanians.

The article which received strong online criticism, serves as an important indicator of Jordan’s potential future amid ongoing international and regional efforts to find a palatable “solution” to the Palestinian conflict and achieve full normalization with Israel – at the expense of both the Palestinians and Jordanians.

The future of Jordan’s monarchy

However, the question remains as to whether Hamzah was genuinely preparing to stage a royal coup. As the diplomat tells The Cradle:

“There is no strong evidence that Hamzah was preparing for a successful coup. Most likely, he wanted to shake the ground under Abdullah’s feet, so that the Americans would be convinced that the king could not achieve stability in Jordan, and they would start searching for alternatives that would ensure the regime would continue to play the roles required of it.”

Regardless of Hamzah’s intentions, the challenge for King Abdullah is significant. Hamzah’s strong popular support and ambition to rule, as well as the potential for Queen Rania to seek an early ascension to the throne for their son Hussein, add to his pressure. Additionally, there are concerns that the assimilation of Palestinians into the Jordanian state as an “alternative homeland” could lead to the demise of Hashemite rule.

Despite recent achievements by King Abdullah, such as the approval of increased US military aid to Jordan and the F-16 Block 70 fighter jet deal, corruption remains a root cause of danger for the country in the medium and long term.

Jordan’s government is still funding the corruption necessary to satisfy decision-making circles, and faces a debt estimated at $41 billion. Furthermore, it has not learned from the mistakes of the failed Egyptian administrative capital project, recently announcing a new capital project for Jordan at a cost of $11.5 billion. This only serves to increase corruption and popular anger, further strengthening the arguments of the king’s opponents.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Inhumane Stipulation of Humanitarian Item in US anti-Syria Caesar Act

 February 9, 2023

Mohammad Salami

Eight years after the United States of America waged an international terrorist war on Syria with all the tragic atrocities suffered by the Syrian people across the entire Arab country, the US President Donald Trump signed in December “Caesar Act” allegedly aimed at protecting the Syrians.

Paradoxically, the Act, which came into force on June 17, 2020, was not passed by the US Congress to protect the innocent Syrian civilians from the terrorist groups backed by Washington and allies. However, the target was the democratically-elected Syrian President Bashar Assad and the government, which means besieging Syrian and cutting off its official supply line.

In addition to the socioeconomic woes suffered by the Syrian people due to Caesar Act, the neighboring countries, including mainly Lebanon, were deprived from all the geographical and economic privileges that could be gained out of the relations with Syria.

Due to Casar Act Jordan and Egypt were not allowed to provide Lebanon with electric power and gas as the US administration rejected to grant them any waiver.

On February 6, 2023, a devastating earthquake hit Syria and Turkey, killing and injuring dozens of thousands of residents and destroying huge numbers of buildings.International aids rushed into Turkey, but Caesar Act prevented most of the world countries, except  Iran, Iraq, China, Russia, Lebanon and Algeria, from sending aids to Syria.

Briefly, Syria is suffering a big calamity. The following video shows rescue teams dragging the corpse of a father with his alive son out of the debris.

Back to the text of Casar Act, in case of humanitarian crises, the US President may waive, for renewable periods not to exceed 2 years. However, the Act stipulates that the waiver must address a humanitarian need and, simultaneously, be consistent with the national security interests of the United States.

Caesar Act Item

In other words, the political considerations of the United States comprise the essence of the humanitarian waiver, which exposes the crises-hit civilians to more agonies.

The US national security has been always linked to the considerations of Syria’s enemy-‘Israel’. Thus, the waiver will never be approved in accordance with the interests of the Syrian people.

Caesar Act itself is an unjust move of aggression against the state and people in Syria, and the waivers, included in the Act, require more inhumane conditions, even in the items related to the humanitarian cases.

Source: Al-Manar English Website


JANUARY 26TH, 2023

Miko Peled


The Jordanian Ambassador to the State of Israel was recently denied entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – the third-holiest site in Islam. This is an incident that is so severe and so dangerous that not only the Jordanian government but the entire Arab and Muslim world – as well as the West – should have reprimanded Israel severely. The governments of Israel and Jordan decided to downplay this incident, but there must be no mistake; it marks a dangerous new development for the Holy Sanctuary, or Haram Al-Sharif, where the mosque sits. With this “incident,” Israel – and particularly the new czar of national security – the racist thug turned minister – Itamar Ben-Gvir is telling the Arab and Muslim world, “there’s a new sheriff in town.”

Preventing the Jordanian Ambassador from entering the Al-Aqsa compound was unacceptable on several levels. As a Muslim, he has the right to go and pray at the mosque at any time he pleases; as an ambassador and representative of another country, he should be afforded courtesy and respect; and as the ambassador of the state which is the custodian of the entire compound, the entire Holy Sanctuary, he is entitled to visit at any time and needs no permission from any other authority.


Known in English as the Holy Sanctuary, Haram al-Sharif takes up about one-sixth of the Old City of Jerusalem or about one-half square mile. In 2022, I interviewed Dr. Yousef Natshe, one of the leading authorities on Islamic art and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The compound is composed of three levels of topography and over one hundred architectural structures, representing some of the finest examples of Islamic art and architecture. There are fifteen gates leading to the compound, four of which are currently blocked. As Dr. Natshe describes it, “it is a narrative within a narrative.”

The Haram Al-Sharif has been constantly cared for and developed by the most notable figures in Islam going back to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, who entered Jerusalem in the seventh century, CE. “Wherever you look you see the fingerprints of an amir or a king,” all of whom added something, Dr. Natsche says.

He also added what many Palestinians – young and old – have expressed over and over again: Al-Aqsa is the last resort, the final refuge. As Palestinians lose land and rights and the ability to survive, not to mention lose their children to Israeli bullets, they look to Al-Aqsa as a place of refuge and the place they will protect with everything they’ve got. “Each Palestinian sees him or herself as the protector of Al-Aqsa,” he explained. We have seen this in recent years as settlers and soldiers storm the site and Palestinians from all walks of life stand to protect it.

The Israeli government knows this, and the current administration is challenging Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims by desecrating the Holy Sanctuary, demanding it for themselves. And while this was done slowly and gradually in the past, the current government is marching forward with no regard for the consequences. What we saw take place with the Jordanian Ambassador was the first shot in a war they are declaring on Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims everywhere.


While Israel tried to describe the incident with the Jordanian Ambassador as little more than a misunderstanding, it was nothing of the sort. Militarized and heavily armed Jerusalem police patrol the Al-Aqsa compound regularly in order to intimidate and show who is in charge. The only way to describe these police officers is “goons”; they are large, brutish, usually unshaven, easily provoked and with a dangerous propensity for violence. I have personally seen them many times, including when they are on the attack.

Based on tradition that goes back more than fifteen hundred years, and on diplomatic and legal agreements that have been signed and reaffirmed over and over in the last century, custodianship of the Holy Sanctuary today belongs to the Kingdom of Jordan. That means, in simple language, that they have the authority in the compound. The Waqf, or religious trust that governs the Holy Sanctuary, which includes Al-Aqsa mosque and all that exists within the compound, is a Jordanian institution, governed by the Kingdom of Jordan. One could perhaps compare it to an embassy, and the authority and sovereignty within the embassy belongs to the state it represents.

In the summer of 2022 I visited the Waqf, which is where I interviewed Dr. Yousef Natshe. I had to walk into the offices of the Waqf, the Islamic religious trust, and it was like entering an office within Jordan. For reasons beyond understanding, I had to negotiate with Israeli police about the right to enter the office, which for all legal purposes is under the sovereignty of the Jordanian government and not the Israeli police.


If there is anyone watching the developments surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa compound who is not gravely concerned, then they need to wake up. Claims made by Zionists to Al-Aqsa would be equivalent to someone demanding the Vatican – which was built much later than Al-Aqsa – be removed because before it was built there was a temple for some other deity and they have the right to build their own temple again. If someone was mad enough to make such claims, they would be laughed at, and rightly so.

It is probably not possible for someone who is not a Muslim or at least close enough to Islam to comprehend the importance, the significance and the awe surrounding Al-Aqsa. It is equally not possible therefore to comprehend the danger in what Israel is doing. Israel and its current zealot-led government are fully aware that they are placing not only Jerusalem, not only Palestine, not even only the entire Middle East but the entire world on the edge of an unpredictable catastrophe.

It is time for the international community to step in. It is time for Americans to prepare for the possibility that the Sixth Fleet – which controls the Mediterranean region – be mobilized to rescue Palestinians. The longer the world waits, the more Palestinians die and the closer we get to what will surely be an unimaginable loss.

Leaked files: How Britain trains Jordan to spy on its citizens

January 24 2023

The British government covertly trained Jordanian security services in techniques known as “digital media exploitation” which has been used to monitor, manipulate, and disrupt dissent in the kingdom.

Source: The Cradle

Photo Credit: The Cradle

ByKit Klarenberg

By Al Mayadeen English 

Leaked documents reviewed by The Cradle reveal that Britain secretly trained Jordanian security services in techniques used by the notorious UK security and cyber agency GCHQ, which provides signals intelligence to the British government and its armed forces.

Over three intensive, week-long, Foreign Office-funded training sessions conducted between June 2019 and March 2020, members of the Public Security Directorate’s shadowy Special Branch, handpicked by the British Embassy in Amman, were taught the finer points of “digital media exploitation.”

In theory, the purpose of the exercise was to assist “evidence gathering agencies in Jordan to effectively extract data from digital devices” to enhance their investigative capabilities, and improve the standard of prosecutions, particularly in the field of terrorism.

This would in turn enable enhanced sharing of evidence between Amman and London, “and lead to increased operational cooperation.”

Tried and tested tactics

As readers of The Cradle will well-know by this point, the officially stated noble objectives of Whitehall’s assorted security support and reform programs in West Asia may not align with the underlying reality of these efforts.

For example, this outlet has previously revealed how British operatives and technology are placed in Lebanon’s intelligence services under the guise of teaching them how to use digital forensic tools. This allows London to closely monitor their activities – and Lebanese citizens.

Those programs are delivered by British government contractor Torchlight, a company staffed by UK military and intelligence veterans with high-level security clearances. The same company was also behind the training provided to Jordan’s Special Branch.

According to its submissions to the Foreign Office, based on a “comprehensive on-site visit” in 2018, the Directorate’s operatives were already “satisfactorily equipped in terms of hardware and software” to conduct “digital media exploitation.”

Spying on citizens

However, Torchlight felt that they were not “adequately trained to fully exploit the potential of the equipment they possess.” Given the resources available to the Directorate, this “potential” could be highly concerning.

For example, Torchlight has noted that Special Branch uses Cellebrite’s suite of digital intelligence products. Cellebrite, an Israeli company with clients including multiple repressive governments, produces technology capable of breaking into encrypted devices and extracting and analyzing all data within it.

While the firm has helped solve murky murder cases, overwhelmingly it is deployed to monitor the activities of human rights activists, journalists and dissidents.

The professional backgrounds of Torchlight staffers involved in the Jordanian training project raise additional concerns. It was led by the company’s Head of Digital Intelligence, Andy Tremlett, a cyber and electronic warfare specialist who spent over a decade in senior positions at GCHQ.

Along the way, he was “charged with the provision of support to the most specialized and discreet areas” of British Special Forces operations, and responsible for expanding the agency’s “overseas footprint” and “potential delivery platform.” These positions granted him “vast experience in how to use and exploit digital material,” and integrating different forms of intelligence in broader espionage operations.

‘Destroy, deny, degrade and disrupt’

Further details of Tremlett’s ability to “exploit” the private data of targets aren’t offered, although he is said to have “spent a significant portion of his career within the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG).” The existence of this unit was exposed by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2014, and the details of its operations are truly shocking.

JTRIG’s explicit mission is to employ a variety of dirty tricks to “destroy, deny, degrade and disrupt” enemies and “discrediting” them, by planting “negative information” about them online, and manipulating discussions on internet forums and social networks.

leaked presentation on JTRIG’s covert activities shows this harassment extends to changing an individual’s social media profile pictures to take their paranoia “to a whole new level” or simply deleting their online presence, writing anonymous blog posts “purporting to be [by] one of their victims” to damage their reputations, emailing and texting their work colleagues, neighbors and friends, and arranging “honey trap” stings.

“A great option. Very successful when it works,” the presentation states in regard to the latter strategy. “Get someone to go somewhere on the internet, or a physical location to be met by a ‘friendly face.’ JTRIG has the ability to ‘shape’ the environment on occasions.”

Writing incriminating blog posts was said to have “worked on a number of different ops,” with “Iran work” cited as a particularly effective example, although this is not expanded upon. Elsewhere, it is disclosed that JTRIG “significantly” disrupted the Taliban’s communications network by bombarding them with phone calls, texts and faxes “every 10 seconds or so.”

Evidently, it was not digital forensics with which Torchlight’s training modules were primarily concerned. In fact, JTRIG operations related to “digital media exploitation” were, per the leaked presentation, primarily concerned with placing information on “compromised” electronic devices, including “damning information, where appropriate.”

Protecting the British-installed monarchy

In Jordan, criticism of King Abdullah II – a member of the Hashemite dynasty installed on thrones across West Asia by the British following World War I, and himself a British Army veteran – and government officials and institutions is a very serious crime.

Journalists are routinely subject to harassment, arrest and prosecution by authorities for even mildly critical reporting or social media posts. And protests over rising hardship among the general population are becoming more frequent.

The prospect of Amman’s secret police being proficient in JTRIG’s malicious methods is therefore disturbing by definition. The ease with which they could be abused to ruin the lives of objectors, and/or jail them on bogus charges, is clear.

Britain’s willingness to export these techniques to Jordan is not surprising. The strict and widely criticized Cybercrime Law, which restricts freedom of expression online and citizens’ right to privacy, makes the country a perfect staging ground for London’s nefarious activities elsewhere in West Asia, and helps keep their presence and intentions secret.

For example, from the early days of the Syrian crisis, Britain operated a site located 45 minutes from Amman where fighters in the proxy war were trained. Leaked files related to the project predicted that some of these individuals would go on to join Al-Nusra and ISIS and that equipment would be stolen and used by them.

Despite this, the Foreign Office was unconcerned about these prospects, likely because there was little risk that they, or the training program more generally, would ever be publicly exposed.

By Kit Klaernberg

US and Israel ‘biggest threats to security’ across Arab world: Arab Opinion Index

An overwhelming majority of Arab citizens say they oppose normalization with Israel, believing instead that the Palestinian cause concerns the entire region

January 20 2023

(Photo credit: AP)

ByNews Desk- 

The US and Israel have been named the “biggest threats” to the security of the Arab world by citizens from across West Asia and North Africa, according to the 2022 Arab Opinion Index released on 19 January by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.

When presented with a list of countries and asked which poses the biggest threat to the Arab world, 84 percent of respondents said Israel, while 78 percent said the US.

Tied for third place are Iran and Russia, as 57 percent of respondents considered the two sanctioned nations the biggest threat to regional security. Meanwhile, 53 percent of citizens named France as a significant threat.

Turkiye and China were the only countries with positive results for their policies in the Arab world.

“There is a general sense of American hypocrisy on [West Asia] policy,” said Dana El Kurd, a professor at the University of Richmond, at a press briefing following the release of the findings.

Respondents, in particular, had a somber outlook on US policy on Palestine, as only 11 percent said they approved of Washington’s positions. On the other hand, 31 percent of respondents said they approved of Iran’s policies towards Palestine.

The poll also shows that 76 percent of respondents agreed that the Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs, not just Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (84 percent) said they would not support the normalization of ties with Israel.

This is true even in nations that have already normalized ties with Tel Aviv, like Jordan, Sudan, and Morocco, highlighting a clear divide between the interest of citizens and their leaders.

Even in Saudi Arabia, which Israel has considered the most crucial target for normalization, only five percent of respondents said they would favor such a deal.

When asked why they oppose normalization, respondents cited the over 70-year-long Israeli occupation of Palestine and the establishment of an apartheid state to persecute Palestinians as the main reason.

The Arab Opinion Index poll comprises in-person interviews with 33,000 respondents across 14 Arab countries. According to the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, interviews with Saudi citizens took place over the phone.

Countries polled included Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Tunisia.

What prompted the urgent, secretive summit in Abu Dhabi?

January 20 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Key Arab heads of state convened this week for an emergency meeting that excluded the Saudis and Kuwaitis. The likely hot topics under discussion were Egypt’s economic collapse and Israel’s aggressive escalations.

By Abdel Bari Atwan

On 18 January, the United Arab Emirates hastily arranged a consultative summit in Abu Dhabi, which included the leaders of four member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Heads of state of the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE attended the urgent summit, along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The absence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and either Kuwaiti Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad or his Crown Prince Mishaal al-Ahmad was noted with some surprise. No official statements or press leaks have yet emerged to explain the omission of the two GCC leaders or their high-level representatives from the urgent consultations.

This surprise summit came on the heels of a tripartite meeting in Cairo on 17 January, which included President Sisi, King Abdullah, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Directly afterward, the Jordanian monarch flew to Abu Dhabi carrying a message for Emirati Emir Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) that prompted him to immediately convene a summit the next day.

What was so urgent to necessitate an emergency meeting of Arab leaders? Why did the top Saudi and Kuwait leaders give the  summit a miss? There are several possibilities behind this swift convening of key Arab leaders in Abu Dhabi.

First, is the rapid deterioration of Egypt’s economy after the decline of the Egyptian pound to its lowest levels in history (32 pounds to the US dollar). Spiraling inflation rates, harsh conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – most notably the floating of the national currency and a heavy reduction of private contracting and trade companies affiliated with the Egyptian army – have added sharply to the economy’s downward turn.

There are reports that the IMF has asked GCC countries to provide $40 billion in immediate aid to Egypt, otherwise the state’s collapse is imminent and inevitable.

Second, are the dangerous policies currently under consideration by the right-wing government of Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These include, most notably, threats to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the practical abolition of Jordan’s Hashemite Custodianship over Jerusalem, the illegal annexation of the West Bank, and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of its Palestinian residents to Jordan.

Third, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, warned his neighbors a few days ago on Twitter of an imminent US-Israeli aggression against Iran that could fundamentally shake the security and stability of the Gulf.

The risk of economic collapse facing Egypt was perhaps the most important and urgent factor on the summit agenda. Financial assistance from the Gulf – once a reliable source of emergency aid – has completely stopped. Even if it continues, funds will no longer arrive in the form of non-refundable grants and unconditional deposits, as in years past.

That approach to funding has changed as Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed bin Jadaan made clear in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 18 January. In previous statements, Egypt’s President Sisi has confirmed his country’s financial woes by revealing that Gulf states have stopped their aid completely.

The absence of the Emir of Kuwait from the consultative summit may be understandable in this context – if, in fact, Egypt’s economy was the top of the summit’s agenda. The Kuwaiti National Assembly (parliament) has adopted a decision to prevent his government from providing a single dollar in aid to Egypt.

Gulf states have provided Egypt with $92 billion since the ‘Arab Uprisings’ began to tear through the region in January 2011.

Currently, Kuwait’s own internal governmental crisis, in addition to the deterioration of its relationship with Cairo over its deportation of Egyptian workers, can explain the emir’s absence. What is not understood so far, is why Saudi’s MbS was a no-show in Abu Dhabi.

While Emirati leader MbZ’s warm and friendly reception of his Qatari counterpart Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani raised hopes of easing bilateral tensions, news leaks suggested that Saudi-Emirati relations are in their own state of crisis – based on growing differences over the Yemeni war and other regional issues. Perhaps this crisis is what led to a thaw in Qatari-Emirati relations.

In addition, Egyptian-Saudi relations have collapsed to an state unprecedented for years. A report last month by US media outlet Axios revealed that Egyptian authorities have halted practical procedures in their transfer of the strategic Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi sovereignty. Egyptian official media has also launched a fierce attack on the Saudi-owned “MBC Egypt” channel and its presenter Amr Adib, accusing him of working for the Saudis amid fears the station will stop broadcasting from Egypt.

Besides the economic aspects, the differences, squabbles, and fluctuating relations between the countries of this axis, there are other issues of significant gravity that may have been addressed at the Abu Dhabi summit.

A key topic may have been the ambitions of Netanyahu’s unprecedentedly right-wing Israeli government – notably its prevention of Jordan’s ambassador from visiting Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a first step to abolish the Hashemite Custodianship over the ancient city.

While the failure to invite Palestinian President Abbas to the Abu Dhabi summit (there is an Emirati veto against it) may suggest otherwise, Jordan – currently under US and Israeli pressure to participate in the second Negev summit in Morocco – and its monarch may have pressed this issue in Abu Dhabi.

Gulf states that have normalized relations or opened communications with Israel would have been asked to use their influence to de-escalate these pressures. The ramifications of continued Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem and the West Bank are a direct threat to Jordan’s security and stability.

Interestingly, all the states represented at the Abu Dhabi summit – with the exception of the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar – have signed normalization agreements with Israel. The absent Saudis and Kuwaitis, have notably not yet joined that club.

Details of the Abu Dhabi emergency summit of heads of states have not yet emerged, but the days ahead could provide some answers. Will billions flow to Egypt to extract the country from its financial crisis? Or will the Arab House remain the same? We will have to wait to see.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

واشنطن تحشد ضد التطبيع مع دمشق | أنقرة: مستعدون للانسحاب

الخميس 19 كانون الثاني 2023

علاء حلبي  

سربت أنقرة تصريحات تفيد بموافقتها على الانسحاب من سوريا جزئياً أو كلّياً وفق جدول زمني محددّ (أ ف ب)

على رغم العقبات الكثيرة التي تعترض طريق التطبيع السوري – التركي، تشير المعطيات المتوافرة كافة إلى أن أنقرة متمسّكة بهذا المسار، وهو ما أنبأ به مثلاً تسريبها حديثاً لأحد مسؤوليها عن استعدادها للانسحاب الكلّي أو الجزئي من الشمال السوري. ولعلّ ذلك التمسّك يفسّر جانباً من «الهَبّة» الأميركية، متعدّدة الأشكال والمستويات، لعرقلة عملية الانفتاح على دمشق، بدءاً من محاولة حشْد المعسكر الغربي بأكمله ضدّها، مروراً بالاشتغال على الربط الاقتصادي بين مناطق سيطرة «الإدارة الذاتية» وتلك الخاضعة لسلطة أنقرة، وليس انتهاءً بالعمل على تهشيم «الائتلاف» ومحاولة استنبات تشكيلات معارضة بديلة

مقالات مرتبطة

قُبيل زيارة وزير الخارجية التركي، مولود تشاووش أوغلو، لواشنطن، ولقائه نظيره الأميركي، أنتوني بلينكن، عقد ممثّلو دول الاتحاد الأوروبي اجتماعاً في العاصمة البلجيكية بروكسل، بدعوة من المبعوثة الأوروبية لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، هيلين لوكال، لمناقشة الأوضاع في سوريا، ليخلص الاجتماع إلى تأكيد استمرار موقف الاتحاد الأوروبي القائم، والمتمثّل في رفْض أيّ خطوات تطبيعية مع دمشق، ورفْض رفْع العقوبات عن الأخيرة، كما ورفْض إعادة الإعمار، الأمر الذي يتماشى مع حملة التصعيد التي تقودها واشنطن في الملفّ السوري هذه الأيّام. كذلك، سارعت الولايات المتحدة، التي لمست رفضاً قاطعاً من أنقرة لخطّتها القديمة – الجديدة للربط بين مناطق «الإدارة الذاتية» التي تقودها «قوات سوريا الديموقراطية» الكردية (قسد) والشمال السوري الذي تسيطر عليه تركيا، كبديل للانعطافة التركية نحو دمشق، إلى الإعلان عن اجتماع تشاوري في جنيف لممثّلي الدول التي تماثلها في مواقفها من الأزمة السورية، في إشارة إلى التحالف السياسي الذي تقوده ضدّ روسيا، حيث تربط واشنطن بين ملفَّي سوريا وأوكرانيا، وتَعتبر أيّ تقدّم في الملفّ السوري نجاحاً لموسكو، وفق مصادر سورية معارضة، تحدّثت إلى «الأخبار».

المصادر ذكرت أن جدول أعمال اللقاء لم يتبلور حتى الآن، غير أن المؤكد أنه سيستمرّ ليومَين: اليوم الأوّل (يُتوقّع أن يكون الإثنين القادم) يناقش فيه المجتمعون الخطوات الموحّدة التي يمكن اتّباعها لمنع أو تخفيف أيّ آثار للانعطافة التركية، وإعادة تقييم قانون العقوبات الأميركية على سوريا، ومدى إمكانية تنفيذ بنود منه ضدّ الدول التي انفتحت أو تسير نحو الانفتاح على دمشق، على أن يُعقد في اليوم التالي اجتماع مع الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، أنطونيو غوتيريش.

استبَقت واشنطن زيارة أوغلو بجولة لمنسّق البيت الأبيض للشؤون الأمنية للشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا شملت الأردن والعراق

واستبَقت واشنطن زيارة وزير الخارجية التركي بجولة قام بها منسّق البيت الأبيض للشؤون الأمنية للشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، بريت ماكغورك، شملت الأردن والعراق، حيث ناقش المسؤول الأميركي ملفّات عدّة من بينها الموضوع السوري. وبحسب مصادر كردية تحدّثت إلى «الأخبار»، فإن ماكغروك ناقش مع أربيل سُبل التنشيط الاقتصادي لمناطق «الإدارة الذاتية»، والاستفادة من استثناءات قانون عقوبات «قيصر»، والتي تشمل مناطق «الذاتية» وأخرى تسيطر عليها تركيا في الشمال السوري باستثناء إدلب وعفرين. في المقابل، أشار أوغلو، قبل انطلاقه إلى واشنطن، إلى أن الملفّ السوري سيحتلّ حيّزاً رئيساً من مباحثاته هناك، مضيفاً أن ملفّ طائرات «F16» سيكون حاضراً أيضاً، علماً أن الولايات المتحدة استثمرت هذا الملفّ مرّات عدّة للضغط على تركيا، بعد إخراجها إيّاها من مشروع تطوير طائرات «F35» إثر شراء الأخيرة منظومة «S400» الدفاعية الروسية.

وبالإضافة إلى الحراك السياسي والميداني (عبر إعادة نشْر القوّات الأميركية وتوسيع رقعة تمركزها، ومحاولة إحياء فصائل عربية تابعة لها في مناطق نفوذ «قسد»)، أعلنت الخارجية الأميركية ضخّ 15 مليون دولار لدعم ما سمّته «مكافحة التضليل، وتوسيع بثّ وسائل الإعلام المستقلّة، وتعزيز مبادئ حقوق الإنسان». ويتوافق ذلك مع التحرّكات الأميركية الأخيرة لخلق معارضة سورية بديلة لـ«الائتلاف» تنشط من نيويورك، تمهيداً لسحب البساط من تحت أنقرة، وإنهاء «الائتلاف» الذي يمثّل واجهة سياسية للمعارضة تتحكّم بها تركيا، علماً أن حملة كبيرة بدأت تَظهر بالفعل عبر وسائل الإعلام ومواقع التواصل الاجتماعي ضدّ هذا التشكيل. وفي المقابل، وفي تصريحات يبدو أنها تهدف إلى الضغط على واشنطن، سرّبت أنقرة إلى وسائل إعلام تركية تصريحات لمسؤول تركي كبير لم تُسمّه، أعلن خلالها موافقة بلاده على الانسحاب من سوريا جزئياً أو كلّياً وفق جدول زمني محدَّد، في ردّ مباشر على مطالب دمشق. كذلك ذكر المسؤول التركي أن بلاده متّفقة مع الجانب السوري على عدم وجود أيّ خطوط حمراء لا تمكن مناقشتها، الأمر الذي يعني إصراراً تركياً على الانفتاح على دمشق، خصوصاً بعد الزيارة التي أجراها وزير الخارجية الإيراني، حسين عبد اللهيان، لأنقرة قادماً من سوريا، وإعلانه دعم بلاده هذا الانفتاح، واستعدادها للانضمام إليه وتحويله إلى لقاءات رباعية تضمّ روسيا وإيران وتركيا وسوريا، وفق «مسار أستانا» الذي تحدّث عن إمكانية تعديله وتحديثه أيضاً. بدورها، أكدت موسكو مضيّها في تقريب وجهات النظر بين أنقرة ودمشق، حيث أعلن وزير الخارجية الروسي، سيرغي لافروف، استمرار العمل لإجراء لقاء على مستوى وزيرَي خارجية سوريا وتركيا، مرحّباً في الوقت ذاته بالمسار التركي للحلّ في سوريا.

ميدانياً، تابعت «هيئة تحرير الشام» (جبهة النصرة) هجماتها التصعيدية لتسخين جبهات القتال، عن طريق إرسال «إنغماسيين» إلى محاور «خفض التصعيد» في إدلب. وأفادت مصادر ميدانية بأن هجوماً جديداً شنّه عدد من «الجهاديين» على محور قرية معرة موخص في ريف إدلب الجنوبي، ردّ عليه الجيش السوري بقصف مكثّف على مواقع المسلحين، الأمر الذي أدّى إلى مقتل عدد منهم، عُرف منهم «أبو عبيدة النعماني» و«أبو جهاد الحلبي»، وهما من فصيل «أنصار التوحيد».

مقالات ذات صلة

Report: Israel Outraged by ‘Irresponsible’ Visit of Western Envoys to Al-Aqsa Mosque

January 18, 2023

A large delegation of foreign diplomats visits Al-Aqsa Mosque. (Photo: via QNN)

Israel is angry that envoys from the European Union and other Western countries visited Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque last Wednesday, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday.

According to the Israeli newspaper, the delegation, which included around 30 diplomats from EU countries, Canada, Australia, and Argentina, did not coordinate with the occupation authorities.

Instead, it was reported, they coordinated with the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem, which is the religious administrative body covering the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa.

“We joined like-minded diplomats at Al-Aqsa Mosque to demonstrate support for Jordanian custodianship of Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem,” tweeted the British Consulate in the holy city.

“We continue to promote historic status quo arrangements which permit all three Abrahamic faiths to worship in the Old City.”

The Israeli newspaper cited a spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry expressing outrage. ”

This visit was irresponsible and could have led to provocation and incitement,” he reportedly said.

“The foreign ministry will continue to engage via diplomatic channels in order to prevent steps that could lead to escalation and has made it clear to the EU that it does not take it lightly.”


Europe is looking for a role and influence


Jordan hosts leaders from across West Asia for French-organized summit

The Iranian foreign minister met with the EU foreign policy chief ahead of the summit to discuss the inert JCPOA-revival talks

December 20 2022

(Photo credit: AFP)

ByNews Desk

Senior officials from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, and the EU launched the second Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership in the Jordanian capital Amman on 20 December.

Organized by France and Iraq, the summit stated aim is to “provide a forum for discussing the region’s problems.”

Ahead of the conference’s start, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani held a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and nuclear talks coordinator Enrique Mora to discuss the dormant process to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

Following the meeting, Borrell said in a tweet that he urged the Iranian diplomats to “immediately halt military support for Russia and internal repression.”

“Stressed need to immediately stop military support to Russia and internal repression in Iran. Agreed we must keep communication open and restore JCPOA on basis of Vienna negotiations,” the EU official said.

For his part, the Iranian foreign minister condemned western countries for supporting “rioters” and imposing illegal unilateral sanctions against Iran under the pretext of protecting human rights.

Amir-Abdollahian also voiced readiness to resolve any misunderstanding in direct negotiations with Ukraine, and called on the remaining JCPOA signatories to avoid politicizing the talks further and to adopt a “constructive and realistic approach to make necessary decisions for an agreement.”

Talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal have been at a stalemate since September, when anti-government protests took hold in Iran. At the time, western nations accused the Islamic Republic of raising “unreasonable demands” in relation to a UN investigation into Iranian nuclear sites.

In the days leading up to the summit, reports spoke about a new possible meeting between Iranian and Saudi officials. However, there has been no official word on whether Amir-Abdollahian will meet with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud.

Since 2021, Iraq has hosted five meetings between Saudi and Iranian officials, the last of which was in April, but these contacts have not yielded any breakthroughs in relations.

Another notable leader attending the summit is French President Emmanuel Macron, who analysts believe is using the opportunity to keep a strong presence in West Asia, where western influence continues to wane.

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King of Jordan vows to punish protesters 

Jordanians have been taking to the streets of the kingdom to protest the government’s decision to hike fuel prices for the 16th time in two years.

December 17 2022

FILE (Photo credit: Getty Images)

ByNews Desk

Jordanian King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein, visited on 16 December the hometown of police colonel Abdul-Razzaq Abdul-Hafez al-Dalabeh, who was murdered during violent protests that have swept several cities in the kingdom.

While wearing military attire, the king offered his condolences to the family, and promised to strike the “enemies of stability” with an iron fist.

Abdullah added that security forces will deal severely with anyone who raises arms against the state or attacks its property and personnel, vowing to not rest until the murderers of Dalabeh were brought to justice.

“We will not accept insults or assault against members of our security services who are vigilant about protecting our homeland and its citizens,” the king added.

Abdullah added that vandalism will not be tolerated, and will be dealt with as a serious violation of the security of the kingdom, during an address to tribal elders.

In light of these developments, the police directorate issued a statement about its ongoing investigations and stated they “will not stop until the perpetrators are arrested to be handed a deterrent punishment.”

The punishment intends to set an example to any Jordanian who would plan or consider similar attacks on the state and its personnel.

According to the Director of Public Security Major General Obaidullah al-Maaytah, about 49 Jordanian police members were injured during the protests.

Maaytah assumed the role of the director of public security in September, to tackle the growing gap in the relationship between the Jordanian throne and the tribes.

According authorities, at least 44 protesters were arrested for “participating in the riots in a number of regions in the kingdom.”

The statement added they “will be brought before the courts” to be punished to to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Two weeks ago, the transportation sector in Jordan announced a nationwide strike to protest the government’s decision to hike fuel prices for the 16th time in two years.

With the government’s failure to implement effective reforms that would protect lorry and taxi drivers, the strikes expanded to include everyday citizens who took the streets to express their discontent.

Jordanians called on the government to resign for its failure in safeguarding their livelihood.

Their call was supported by 17 parliamentarians who asked for the resignation of Bishr al-Khasawneh’s government, through a vote of no confidence at the parliament.

Nonetheless, the Minister of Interior Mazen Faraya applauded the government’s actions for handling the situation “wisely and with accountability.”

He added that all just demands will be addressed, but stressed on the upmost need to end the strike at vital sectors in the kingdom, to mitigate repercussions on the economy.

Jordan: Protests against high fuel prices




Robert Inlakesh

As the Religious Zionist Party forms part of Israel’s new government, fears arise of tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound leading to a new regional escalation. Israeli settler provocations at Jerusalem’s holy sites have a long history of causing civil unrest that runs counter to Washington’s foreign policy goals, which is why U.S.-based non-profits that finance Israeli extremists are all the more outrageous.

With far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir pledging to fight for unfettered access to Al-Aqsa Mosque for extremist settlers, the conditions that could lead to an explosion of violence throughout occupied Palestine – and even regionally – are ripe. In May 2021, Israeli settler incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, combined with routine attacks on worshipers by Israeli police, caused a war to break out between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Once on the fringes of Israeli society, the extremist Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement have now entered the mainstream, with a leader of the second most powerful Israeli political party on their side. The temple mount group openly states on its website its intentions of destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as we know it today and building the Jewish “Third Temple” in its place – a virtual declaration of war against the Muslim world.

Although the extremist settlers who routinely storm the mosque are not necessarily close to achieving their end goal, they are hoping to see the new Israeli government grant them the full right to storm at will and perform religious rituals in Al-Aqsa. Such provocations could spark a round of tensions inside the Old City of Jerusalem and its surroundings, leading to a situation that the Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed to challenge using a united resistance front, formed of a number of regional actors, including Yemen’s Ansar Allah.


Since the early days of the British Mandate period in Palestine, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and its surroundings have been central to both the Palestinian national struggle and to creating the grounds for greater conflict between Zionists and Palestinians.

The Zionist movement’s attempts to take over the Western (Wailing) Wall – attached to the outer walls of the Al-Aqsa site, have sparked a number of riots and clashes, culminating in the bloody 1929 al-Khalil (Hebron) uprising.

During the Ottoman Rule of Palestine, Chaim Weizmann, then head of the Zionist Organization, saw the Western Wall site as a prize to attain, initially in order to bring ultra-orthodox Jews into the Zionist camp. He attempted to purchase the site from the Islamic religious trust known as the Waqf. In Tom Segev’s book, “One Palestine, Complete,” he cites a letter written by Weizmann to his wife, where he described, “the minarets and the bell-towers and the domes rising to the sky are crying out that Jerusalem is not Jewish,” clearly indicating a need to change the city’s character.

According to Yehoshua Porath’s book, “The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement 1918-1929”, during tensions between Zionists and Palestinians in 1920s Jerusalem, the precedent was already set for Muslim fears over any change in the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites. Porath writes that the Palestinians understood Zionist attempts to change the status quo at the Western Wall site as a gradual attempt to take over the Haram al-Sharif (otherwise known as the Dome of the Rocks mosque), located in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

In reaction to Zionist attempts to attain more control in the Old City, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, created a large campaign to both refurbish the site and to signal to Muslims that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was under attack. This campaign ended up increasing the importance of the third-holiest site in the Islamic faith and in the Palestinian national struggle, combining the religious significance of al-Aqsa with the Palestinian fight for national liberation. The fact that Judaization attempts were being made by leaders of the Zionist movement, pre-dating the British Mandate rule itself, remains stored in the Palestinian collective consciousness until this day.


The position that is maintained by the United Nations, despite Israel having passed its own legislation to annex Jerusalem in 1980, is that under international law, the territory is considered to be occupied. The international community “rejects the acquisition of territory by war and considers any changes on the ground illegal and invalid”, is the way the issue of Israel’s claims to sovereignty over the city it viewed by the UN. In addition to this, the status quo, as per Israel’s agreement with Jordan, is that the Jordanian Waqf has the right to maintain security inside the Al-Aqsa compound, whilst Israeli forces have the right to manage security on the Holy Site’s exterior.

Despite attempts to change it, Israeli law states that performing acts of religious worship inside the site is forbidden for Israeli Jewish citizens. Jewish Israelis are allowed to enter as tourists, as is the case for non-Muslim international travelers to the site. However, the Israeli police that operate security checks surrounding Al-Aqsa clearly do not abide by this precedent.

Israel has no right, under international law, to any of Jerusalem. One way that Tel Aviv could have been granted legitimacy in Jerusalem was through a potential peace deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), with no such deal having yet taken place. Between 1993 and 1995, both Israel and the PLO signed what was known as the Oslo Accords. Oslo gave birth to a semi-autonomous Palestinian governing body – the Palestinian Authority – in some limited areas of the West Bank and Gaza. The series of agreements between the PLO and the Israeli government was supposed to lead to a process by which a Palestinian State could be created.

Israel Palestinians
Palestinian youth are handcuffed after protesting Israelis stroming Al-Aqsa Mosque, April 15, 2022. Ariel Schalit | AP

Although Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), currently based out of the city of Ramallah, never resulted in a peace deal, the PA had only ever claimed for their state to include East Jerusalem. Under international law, without a viable Palestinian state – one that has its capital in East Jerusalem, Israel has no legal right to any part of the city.

Despite this, in 2000, then-Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, stormed the Al-Aqsa compound, causing a mass Palestinian revolt. Sharon’s move followed a march that had just taken place to commemorate the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres of around 3,500 Palestinians and Lebanese civilians – massacres that Sharon played a central role in facilitating.

For Palestinians, it was the act of an Israeli politician storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque site that served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. The uprising across the Occupied Territories known as the Second Intifada began in September 2000 and continued officially until 2005.


Over the past two years, the Israeli assaults on Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have been extremely pronounced, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israeli riot police have repeatedly stormed the site, injuring hundreds of Palestinians and even killing a young man earlier this year. The war between Gaza and Israel in 2021 began as a result of tensions surrounding Al-Aqsa and the threat of an Israeli settler “death to Arabs” march penetrating the compound’s walls.

Leading up to the 2021 conflict, Israeli police had restricted access to the site for prayer during the month of Ramadan and even closed off the minarets at Al-Aqsa to prevent the call to prayer. In 2019, the Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, pushed to install quiet speakers at the Mosque site, which indicates that the action performed by the Israeli police was likely not arbitrary and fits into a trend of extinguishing the Islamic presence in the city.

Going further back, in 2010, an Israeli terrorist attempted to detonate explosives in order to blow up the Al-Qibli Mosque inside the Al-Aqsa compound. This attack was followed by continued attempts by settlers to invade the area. 2015 however, was when the provocations began to take off in an unprecedented manner, with the number of Israeli settlers choosing to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque steadily increasing since that time.

According to Yaraeh – an organization that promotes settler incursions into Al-Aqsa – from August to October 2021, approximately 10,000 Israeli settlers entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, representing a 35% increase from previous years. This October, Yaraeh proudly announced that almost 8,000 settlers stormed the site in one month – the highest on record and more than in the entirety of 2012

In 2021, Hagit Ofran, the director of Peace Now’s Settlement Watchdog, told +972 Magazine that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had been responsible for tensions at the al-Aqsa site, “so much so that it was the reason Netanyahu was no longer in touch with Jordan’s King Abdullah II”. Since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel and Jordan have been bound by an agreement that maintains the “status quo” at the site, which involves Tel Aviv respecting the Hashemite King of Jordan’s symbolic custodianship over Al-Aqsa.

With Netanyahu returning to power, the Jordanian element to this story is particularly important. Netanyahu is backed by fanatical Israeli lawmakers who would like to see Palestinian citizens of Israel expelled from the country altogether. Although Jordan’s King Abdullah II is not likely to abandon his nation’s 1994 peace treaty with Tel Aviv, it is clear that during the Trump administration years, the Hashemite ruler had been isolated after taking a stance against the Netanyahu-Trump “Deal of the Century” model to end the Palestine-Israeli conflict. There are even reports that Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was involved in attempts to hatch a coup plot to overthrow the Jordanian monarch – one that was publicly quashed in April 2021. The Israeli role in the alleged U.S.-Saudi campaign to undermine Abdullah was said to have been part of an attempt to strip the Hashemites of their symbolic custodianship over Al-Aqsa.

Under the Biden administration’s combined efforts with the former Bennett-Lapid government of Israel, Amman had again grown closer to Tel Aviv and even signed a memorandum of understanding for a “water for clean energy” exchange agreement. However, with Netanyahu’s return to power and the current weakening of the Palestinian Authority, if tensions arise from the growing encroachment upon Al-Aqsa, Jordan’s ruler could again be undermined. The Jordanians and Palestinian Authority have already joined hands, sending a message to the U.S. and E.U. to demand that no change be made to the status quo at Al-Aqsa as the new Israeli government comes to power.

In addition to its plans for the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians in neighborhoods like Silwan, Israel is also demolishing Islamic burial sites in the Old City. The Israeli Supreme Court has also been complicit in rejecting appeals to prevent a cable car project in the Old City, which will economically impact local Palestinians, as well as destroy their heritage sites. Recently, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem has condemned the rising settler attacks on holy sites throughout the city, but his statements largely fell on deaf ears.

Given all the context noted above, it is fair to assume that another escalation is only around the corner and that due to the silence of the international community, the Palestinian people will be left to defend their holy sites on their own. When this happens, however, it is likely that much of the Western world, along with Israel, will act as if the Palestinians are being violent and unreasonable, and motivated purely by anti-Semitism.


The Temple Mount movement, which explicitly expresses its desire to not only change the status quo at Al-Aqsa but to build the ‘third temple’ by destroying the Islamic Holy site there, is spearheaded by American-born Israelis. There has been significant financial as well as promotional support from U.S. citizens and organizations. Lately, prominent conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson have themselves entered the site in the presence of extremist Temple Mount figures. Among both Christian and Jewish Americans, the issue has been of importance for starkly different religious reasons.

The Temple Institute, the most notable of a number of organizations that advocate changing the status quo at the Al-Aqsa compound and building the Jewish third temple, was revealed by a Haaretz news investigation to have been funded by a leading U.S. donor to Benjamin Netanyahu. The Temple Institute, founded in 1987 by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, received $96,000 from the U.S.-based One Israel Fund in 2012 and 2013 alone, with a number of other American organizations also contributing donations during that time. The 2015 Haaretz report uncovered that the financing of extremist Temple Mount groups comes from a large pool of tax-exempt charitable organizations that are based in the United States, ranging from New York and California to Texas.

According to the Temple Institute’s last publicly available financial report, for the years 2019 and 2020, the organization received over $2.9 million in funding. Around half came from the Israeli government, with the other half coming from donations. To contribute funds from the United States to the Temple Institute, donors can be directed from a website called America Gives, partnered with Israel Gives, a website from which you can directly aid to the Temple Institute. American Support for Israel, U.K. Gives and Canada Charity Partners are all set up to receive donations from outside of Israel.

American-born ex-Likud Party Knesset member, Yehuda Glick is a prominent figure in the Temple Mount movement and heads the Shalom Jerusalem Foundation. On the foundation’s official website, you can find a donation campaign that hopes to attract people who seek to “see the rebuilding of the Third Temple speedily in our time”. The foundation collects money through a tax-exempt charity based in New Jersey called the Jerusalem Friendship Alliance INC and collected more than $1.8 million in total revenue between 2011 and 2020.

The above-noted means of donating from the United States to the Temple Mount movement are but only a sample of a much larger pool of charitable organizations, through which American organizations and private persons can give money to a cause that runs counter to U.S. policy. Washington supposedly supports maintaining the status quo at Al-Aqsa.


In 1994, after years of attempts by extremists to change the status quo at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), the settlers were finally successful. On February 25, U.S.-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein entered the Ibrahimi Mosque with an automatic weapon, opening fire on Palestinian worshipers. The horrifying terrorist attack resulted in the murder of 29 people and the injury of 125 others, in what Palestinians claimed was a settler plot with indirect support from the Israeli military.

Shortly after the attack, Israel declared the old city of Al-Khalil a closed military zone, later seizing 60% of the Ibrahimi Mosque and turning it into a synagogue closed off to Palestinians. The attack was a resounding success for the Israeli terrorist, who had achieved his goal of making Palestinians pay for falling victim to his actions, and making the life of those living in the Old City miserable and subjected to constant checkpoint stops. Today, Al-Khalil’s Old City is one of the most disturbing areas to visit in all of Palestine, as settlers occupy homes that Palestinians have been expelled from, while simply visiting the Ibrahimi Mosque comes with a humiliating journey through a military checkpoint and a number of stops.

Although violent attempts to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have not yet returned into the fold, the possibility of extremist attempts to use violence at the site is always a fear in the back of every Palestinian’s head. This fear is not unfounded, nor is it without historical precedent, as the Jewish Underground terrorist group had attempted just this back in the 1970s and 1980s; to not only blow up al-Aqsa Mosque but to detonate bombs on packed Palestinian civilian buses in East Jerusalem. Yehuda Etzion, a former member of the Jewish Underground who attempted to blow up Al-Aqsa in 1984, today still advocates building the third temple. Etzion continued to agitate, heading the Chai Vekayam movement that played a prominent role in promoting the Temple Mount movement in the early 2000s. The Jewish Underground is no longer operating, and many of its members were arrested for their violent attacks and plots. However, interestingly, the funding for this organization came primarily from within the United States.

The extremist settler, Baruch Goldstein, who was responsible for the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, was a protégé of the extremist Israeli political figure known as Meir Kahane, the founder of the infamous Kach movement, whose armed wing was the Jewish Defense League (JDL).  The Kach movement was eventually outlawed in both Israel and the United States, with the JDL being designated a terrorist group for its violent antics. Today, former members of the Kach movement and those sympathetic to its cause, such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, are now about to take cabinet positions in the new Israeli government.

Those who follow the beliefs of Meir Kahane, whose group carried out bombing attacks on U.S. soil, are called Kahanists. A 2019 Investigation conducted by The Nation revealed that a web of non-profit American organizations was financing Kahanist groups affiliated with the Religious Zionism Party, which is poised to become the second most powerful Israeli political party under the new Netanyahu administration. An Intercept report in early November then followed up on The Nation’s findings and revealed that tens of millions of dollars had been donated to Israeli far-right groups affiliated with the Religious Zionism Party. Religious Zionism openly advocates for changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa. Its most prominent figures, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, have both stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque this year.

The Biden administration has not changed Washington’s long-standing position of maintaining the status quo at al-Aqsa. However, its position of upholding “unwavering support” for Tel Aviv directly contradicts this position. The Israeli government, the recipient of $150 Billion in U.S. aid, directly finances the Temple Institute and other far-right organizations. Some of Israel’s most prominent political figures also support the idea of building the Jewish Third Temple and actively call for changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa.

Organizations that are the most prominent in promoting these ideas receive a large sum of their finances from U.S.-based tax-exempt organizations. If the U.S. government does not decide to put its foot down and make its support for Israel conditional, a major flare-up over the status of Al-Aqsa will be on its hands – an escalation that could cost Washington its relationship with Jordan and even leaderships in the wider Muslim world. The Al-Aqsa Mosque’s status is an issue that is close to the hearts of over 2 billion Muslims worldwide and attempts to destroy it will be tantamount to a declaration of Holy War, funded by tax-exempt U.S. organizations.

Jordan Warns Netanyahu Of Diplomatic Pitfalls If Al-Aqsa Status Quo Changed

Nov 08 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Jordan warned that bilateral ties with the Zionist entity will suffer if the incoming ruling coalition tries to change the holy al-Aqsa Mosque status quo.

The warning, reported by an ‘Israeli’ public broadcaster, underlined the potential diplomatic pitfalls awaiting Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu who plans to form a cabinet with far-right hardliners.

“Any attempt to change the status quo on the Temple Mount will definitely harm ties between Jordan and ‘Israel,’” the broadcaster quoted an unnamed Jordanian source, referring to al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The source took specific aim at Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the extremist Otzma Yehudit party and a crucial partner in the ruling coalition, who has made a point of touring the site during times of increased tensions.

Ben Gvir and others in his party are longtime and well-known advocates of unlawful Jewish prayer rights at al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jordanian source warned that visits by Ben Gvir and his other “provocations” would be a whole different story if he does so as a minister.

Jordan’s ruling Hashemite family has been the sole custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in East al-Quds, including al-Aqsa Mosque, since 1924.

Under the mosque status quo, only Muslims are allowed to worship within the compound while non-Muslims may visit the site, but are not allowed to pray there.

Al-Quds-based Islamic Endowment [Waqf] has repeatedly denounced the tours of Zionist settlers to al-Aqsa Mosque as provocative, stressing that Palestinian worshipers and guards at the mosque feel insecure in the presence of trigger-happy ‘Israeli’ troops and settlers.

Last May, frequent acts of violence against Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque led to an 11-day war between Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip and the Zionist occupation regime, during which the ‘Israeli’ military killed at least 260 Palestinians, including 66 children.

Netanyahu who served as the Zionist regime’s prime minister from 2009 to 2021, has won elections despite standing charges of corruption and political dysfunction. Netanyahu and his right-wing allies are about to form the most extremist regime in the history of the occupation entity.

During Netanyahu’s term as prime minister, ties with Amman hit a low point.

Last year, Jordan refused to give Netanyahu permission to overfly the country for a diplomatic visit in retaliation after Jordan’s crown prince was unable to visit al-Aqsa Mosque.

القوى الأمنية قد تفقد السيطرة والحراك الشعبي سيندلع مجدداً | واشنطن: الانهيار يحرّر لبنان من حزب الله

 الثلاثاء 8 تشرين الثاني 2022


حذرت مساعدة وزير الخارجية الأميركي لشؤون الشرق الأدنى، باربرا ليف، من أن لبنان مفتوح أمام كل السيناريوهات، بما فيها «تفكك كامل للدولة»، وقالت إن اللبنانيين سيضطرّون على الأرجح إلى تحمّل مزيد من الألم قبل تشكيل حكومة جديدة.

وفي لقاء نظّمه «مركز ويلسون» عن السياسة الأميركية في لبنان، الجمعة الماضي، وأداره السفير الأميركي السابق في لبنان ديفيد هيل، قالت ليف: «أرى سيناريوهات عدة، التفكك هو الأسوأ بينها… قد تفقد قوى الأمن والجيش السيطرة وتكون هناك هجرة جماعية، هناك العديد من السيناريوهات الكارثية. وفي الوقت نفسه أتخيل أن البرلمانيين أنفسهم سيحزمون حقائبهم ويسافرون إلى أوروبا، حيث ممتلكاتهم».

(هيثم الموسوي)

وأشارت إلى أنه «ليس عمل الديبلوماسيين الأجانب الذهاب إلى مجلس النواب والضغط على النواب لانتخاب رئيس. أعتقد أنه يجب أن تسوء الأمور أكثر، قبل أن يصبح هناك ضغط شعبي يشعر به النواب. نحن نضغط على القادة السياسيين ليقوموا بعملهم ولكن لا شيء يؤثر مثل الضغط الشعبي، وعاجلاً أم آجلاً، سيتحرك ذلك من جديد». ولفتت إلى أن «هناك طروحات تقول إن انهيار لبنان سيمكّن بطريقة ما إعادة بنائه من تحت الرماد، متحرّراً من اللعنة التي يمثّلها حزب الله له (…) ولكن شعب لبنان، وجيرانه الأردن وإسرائيل والشعب السوري، سيتحملون العبء الأكبر لانهيار الدولة، لذلك فإن جهودنا مركزة على تفادي هذا السيناريو، والضغط على من يحكمون البلد». واعتبرت أن «حزب الله يشكل تهديداً لنا ولجيران لبنان، وللبنانيين أنفسهم. ونحن مستمرون في فرض عقوبات وحصار شبكاته في المنطقة وغيرها».
ورأت ليف أن «لبنان بحاجة عاجلة لانتخاب رئيس وتسمية رئيس وزراء، ثم تشكيل حكومة كاملة الصلاحيات لتعمل على بعض القرارات المهمة، بينها إصلاحات جوهرية والموافقة على قروض صندوق النقد الدولي والبنك الدولي، الخاصة بتمويل صفقات الطاقة». وعن المقاربة الأميركية للوضع الحالي في لبنان، أوضحت أن «الولايات المتحدة مستعدة للعمل مع الحكومة على تمكين لبنان، ولكن يجب أن تكون هناك حكومة كاملة الصلاحيات لتقوم بمهامها المتعلقة بالإصلاح الاقتصادي».

وأكدت ليف أن بلادها والسعودية لديهما قواسم مشتركة في ما خص الوضع اللبناني. «لقد مرت علاقاتنا بفترة توتر. لكن لدينا قواسم مشتركة استراتيجية، لا سيما في البلدان الأكثر حساسية مثل لبنان واليمن». لذلك، «عملنا بشكل مكثف من أجل الإصلاحات، والفرنسيون كذلك تدخلوا… السعوديون تراجعوا ولكن أعتقد أنهم سيعودون من جديد».
وعن اتفاق ترسيم الحدود البحرية، قالت ليف إن «الاتفاق يحمي أمن إسرائيل ومصالحها الاقتصادية، ويعطي لبنان فسحة لبدء نشاط التنقيب عن موارد الطاقة، ويدعم مصالح الولايات المتحدة والشعب الأميركي وتطلعاتها لشرق أوسط مزدهر ومتكامل، مع احتمالات أقل لاندلاع نزاعات».

انهيار لبنان سيمكّن بطريقة ما من إعادة بنائه من تحت الرماد متحرّراً من حزب الله

وقالت إنه إلى جانب إصلاح القطاع المصرفي والعمل على القروض مع البنك الدولي وصندوق النقد «يجب إصلاح قطاع الكهرباء ولكن هناك مقاومة كبيرة. شحنات النفط الإيرانية التي تسمى إنقاذية، كلها تهرّب ولا تدخل إلى شبكة الطاقة». أضافت أن «هناك اعتقاداً خاطئاً بين معارضي إصلاح قطاعي المصارف والكهرباء، بأننا لسنا بحاجة إلى قرض الثلاثة مليارات دولار، بوجود الغاز الطبيعي. هذا عمل يحتاج سنوات من الاستكشاف والتنقيب ومعرفة ما الإمكانات التجارية… ليست نقوداً في المصرف».

وعما إذا كان اتفاق الترسيم يمهّد لمرحلة جديدة من التطبيع، بما يشمل لبنان؟، قالت: «إنه سؤال جيد لدرجة أني لم أستطع الإجابة عليه لنفسي. هناك شعور بأن هناك تقاطعات ولدت بين لبنان وإسرائيل. لا أدري ما هو السحر الذي أتاح ذلك؟ الأشخاص في الحكومة في لبنان أدركوا الخسارة التي ضيّعوها خلال السنوات الماضية لأنهم لم يصلوا إلى اتفاق مع إسرائيل».

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