Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jordan Option

Abu Aardvark explains why he no longer rules out the possibility of a Jordanian return to the West Bank:
"he difference now, however, is that King Abdullah simply doesn't care in the slightest about Jordanian public opinion. Unlike King Hussein, who for all his political flaws carefully monitored opinion in his kingdom and kept in close touch with trends, Abdullah doesn't seem to care much about the opinion of anyone other than his small team of Western-oriented advisors (the PowerPoint team) and his constituency in Washington. Since he put an end to the political crisis of 2004-2005, he has overseen a steady de-liberalization of the Kingdom, cracking down on public freedoms and going after the Islamist movement aggressively, with nary a peep from the Bush administration. Public opposition to the so-called Jordan option is as strong as ever, but the ability of public opinion to constrain Jordanian policy has dramatically shrunk.

"On the Palestinian side, Mahmoud Abass may find himself with so few options, and so desperate to save his own (and Fatah's) skin that he's willing to do anything - even confederation with Jordan. No, this wouldn't be popular with Palestinians, but what does public opinion have to do with it? Fatah isn't popular either - don't believe the idea that Hamas rules Gaza while Fatah dominates the West Bank. Memories of Fatah's corrupt and ineffective rule of the Palestinian Authority haven't faded, and its open and close relations with the US and Israel won't endear Fatah to many Palestinians. Pushed to the wall, Abass might even go along with this out of a lack of options."

For now, I would distinguish between outright confederation and a creeping Jordanian involvement in the West Bank to try and strengthen the Fatah government.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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