Jordan's future hangs in the balance

(To Andrea Gaspardo)

A country that regularly ends up in the spotlight whenever the Middle East is shrouded by the reverberations of instability is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Since its foundation (in the 1921 as the Emirate of Transjordan, then renamed in the 1949 under the current name) by virtue of its particular geographical position and the singular composition of its population, Jordan has found itself at the center of all the upheavals and plots geopolitics of the Middle East.

The Syrian "Civil War", as well as the Iraq War and the various Arab-Israeli conflicts, have once again seen Jordan transform into the rear of the fighting factions and landing place of a mass of refugees who have elected it to shelter. Since the beginning of the Syrian "Civil War", and until the Russian military intervention in the Middle East, the country has conducted an essentially pro-Western conduct, welcoming a large mass of civilians fleeing the fighting and trying to obtain geopolitical levers from favor at the western chancelleries by first acting as a training and coordination center for the operations of the Syrian anti-Assad rebels and then participating in the military operations of the "International Coalition" against ISIS. However, the continuous presence of numerous formations of anti-Assad Islamist rebels on their territory (with the inevitable interaction of them with the local population) and the spread of the heavily extremist ideology of ISIS were not "painless" events for the "Kingdom of the Bedouins".

Despite an apparent and superficial aura of "modernity and tolerance" in reality Jordan is a very conservative country in which the original tribal and family structures of the Arab world are very much alive and present in the everyday life of citizens. The country has never, to date, completed the "demographic transition" given that for twenty years the total fertility rate has been nailed above the 3 children per woman, a symptom of a society that does not want to abandon the patriarchal principle and patrilocale that characterizes it from time immemorial. At the same time, total literacy has exceeded 97% (both for men and women) so it is only a matter of time for the wave of modernity to begin to take root seriously in civil society with all the consequences they can imagine given that the progressive disintegration of the systems of social control borrowed from the ancient traditions will open unexpected passages also for the extremist ideologies. From this point of view, many already speak of "Syrian contagion" since, for years, Jordan has begun to show signs of restlessness.

According to various reports, cities such as Ma'an and Zarqa (the last place of origin of the terrorist Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh better known as "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi") have long been forges of matrix fundamentalism Salafis while the governorates of Irbid and Mafraq have become the hermitage of all the Syrian jahadists fleeing the Russian-Syrian offensive that has brought all of southern Syria back into the hands of Assad. The 14 in February, according to news released by the news agency Roya News, a man of 52 years died in the explosion of an explosive charge hidden near his farm, near the city of al-Salt (on the outskirts of Amman) with the arrival of the security forces, another and more powerful explosion has caused the destruction of one of their vehicles with the killing of 3 soldiers.

It is at least from August last year that Jordanian security forces are committed to uprooting, through numerous killings and arrests, the local ISIS network, but this was the first time ever in which terrorists were able to complete with successful terrorist action against the country's security forces, even if the gunfights are not ground.

Jordan is a pressure cooker placed on a fire that, although slowly, is burning.

Photo: US Navy / UNESCO