Jordan has been a quiet country that keeps his head down with limited resources but strategic importance for being a fulfilling the duty of acting like a mediator between Israel and Palestinian factions. It also holds the control of the Al-Aqsa Compound. Unlike other non-Gulf Arab countries in the region, it has a unique character for having a powerful king. Its relations with the Gulf countries have had a submissive character since its economy mostly depends on foreign aid. On the other side, its geopolitical position and strong relations with both Palestinians and Israelis enabled it to challenge the Gulf decisions. The most striking example was its reluctance for the Abraham Accords. This reluctance allegedly motivated Saudi Arabia and the UAE to plot against the King Abdullah II. Dahlan appeared during this plot through aiding main plotters. Dahlan has been pursuing a revenge against the Jordanian kingdom through political and economic plots since his expel form Palestine. Amman was his first destination but banned to stay there.    

“Palestine and Jordan are inextricably tied to each other.” 

Mohammed Dahlan, 3 September 2021 

“Dahlan was to mobilize Palestinians in Jordan and tribes against the King.” 

Emirates Leaks 

resim_2022-01-01_025658
Dahlan looks over Amman after his expel from Ramallah in 2011.
Dahlan speaks during a news conference at King Hussein Medical City in Amman in front of the King’s family photo, Sept. 4, 2005.
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Bassem Awadallah (R) and Dahlan (L).
resim_2022-01-01_030438
Dahlan talks to King Abdullah II's adviser Abdullah Wreikat in Amman in 2017.

Since then, Dahlan has attempted to take revenge from Jordan on different occasions. In return, Jordan tried to keep him at a distance, remaining reluctant for his presidency in Palestine. In a secret plan, arranged by the UAE, Egypt and Jordan, Dahlan was to be replaced with Mahmoud Abbas. Yet, Jordan stated certain caveats about Dahlan’s weaknesses. According to Jordanians, first, he was unpopular among Palestinians for having a bad reputation with both financial crimes and misuse of power. Second, Dahlan was not sincere and truthful against Jordan. It is not clear whether Jordan disabled the implementation of this plan but certain that the kingdom had strong hesitations towards him. 

The growing tensions between Dahlan and the Jordan leadership persuaded the former and his bosses to get rid of the King. It should also be noted that Dahlan had loyal men within signifincat Jordanian institutions but failed to take the King and his cortege to his side. One of the first claims appeared in 2017. Media reports said Dahlan threatened Jordan with revealing security files. Jordan replied to this threat with a private message, saying that he was free to do so. Yet, Dahlan stepped back and claimed that he wouldn’t reveal those files and documents due to his respect to Palestinian sovereignty.

Jordan’s relations with the Gulf have also witnessed ups and downs. In 2018, Jordan had to deal with popular protests over mismanagement of economy. These protests mainly targeted IMF-backed austerity measures including a new income tax draft law and price hikes. While the prime minister, Hani Mulki had to step down, it was the UAE and Saudi Arabia that saved the King through pledging a 2.5 billion dollar aid package. Dahlan would be one of the players, who tried to drag Jordanian economy into a deeper crisis. Allegedly, he arranged a local company to sell products far below market prices in an attempt to destabilize the markets and to push other companies to decrease prices to an extent that they had to fire several employees.

Following the aid delivery, the US and the Gulf increased their pressure over Jordan for changing its position towards the Trump-proposed peace plan for Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Another source of dispute was Jordan’s repeated rejection of listing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group despite decisive requests from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Remaining mostly subtle against the pressures, Jordan decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups in its territories but did not add the group to the terror list. Although this step mitigated the pressure to an extent, the Deal of Century once again thwarted solidifying the relations with the Gulf.

Against the backdrop of the peace plan and the Muslim Brotherhood issue, the second claim came from a bunch of leaked documents, which claimed that Dahlan was involved in a Gulf-organized plot against Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Allegedly, Bassem Awadallah, a former royal court chief and a Saudi-based version of Dahlan, and Hassan bin Zaid, a low-ranking royal, attempted to replace Jordan’s King Abdullah II with his half-brother Prince Hamzah at Saudi Arabia’s request. Yet, the kingdom successfully thwarted the danger. Bassem Awadallah was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Jordan in July 2021. While Israeli media reported that former Israeli Prime Minister was involved in the plot, Arab media reported that Awadallah received help from Dahlan during the plot. Awadallah was planning to receive support of tribal leaders, and allegedly Dahlan was to persuade tribes to back Prince Hamzah against King Abdullah II. That said, Dahlan, in social media post, said the safety of the King was a national necessity for Arabs, and praised Jordan’s support to Palestinian people. He also stated that Jordan and Palestine were inextricably tied to each other.

The main reason for the attempt to eliminate the King was his strong opposition to the Deal of Century, in which Dahlan, allegedly, had a mediating role. Following this historic development, the Trump-led US administration also said it would recognize the annexation of Jordan Valley by Israel. Although such annexation is not a violation of Jordanian sovereignty, it will likely to create further troubles in the country’s nearby, even leading to more refugees from Palestinian lands. Also, the Jordanian King neglected the Gulf’s warnings not to appear in the same scene with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. However, King Abdullah II has met Erdoğan repeatedly and given positive signals about bilateral relations. In a telephone conversation following the plot, Erdoğan pledged support to the Jordanian leadership.

In conclusion, Dahlan’s relations with Jordan have never been great. The two sides had different priorities. While Jordan desires to continue being a stable country in one of the most unstable regions through remaining indifferent to disputes among Palestinian factions and following a balanced agenda adroitly towards regional and international powers, Dahlan and his supporters in the Gulf push for more ambitious projects such as implementing the Deal of Century and installing Dahlan as Palestine’s next president.

King Abdallah, Arafat and Dahlan in KSA
King Abdallah, Arafat and Dahlan in KSA

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