Iran and Hamas are targeting Jordan, hoping to create a new terror stronghold | USA TODAY

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Iran and Hamas are targeting Jordan, hoping to create a new terror stronghold | Avi Melamed special to the USA TODAY Network | This article has already published in more that 225 other media and newspapers.


3-minute read

Iran and Hamas pose an escalating threat to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Aspiring to become the dominant power in the region, the Iranian regime, through an aggressive foreign policy known as “exporting the Islamic revolution,” has gained significant influence over three Arab states between Iran and the Mediterranean Sea: Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Now, Tehran eyes Jordan as the final piece in its quest for regional dominance, a strategy called the “Shi’ite Crescent.”

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a key component in the regional “Coalition for Stability,” the informal alliance of states countering Iran’s aggression. Jordan acts as the northern gatekeeper for the Arabian Gulf monarchies, blocks Iranian threats from Syria and curbs Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias threatening Israel. The kingdom’s peace treaty with Israel ensures the 300-mile Israeli-Jordanian border remains generally calm. The kingdom also controls the strategic northern border of the Red Sea. The consequences of Iran spreading chaos in Jordan would be catastrophic, undermining both regional stability and global security.

Iran and Hamas’ marriage of convenience targets Jordan

To create a terror stronghold in Jordan, Iran is using its tried-and-true method of regional expansion: its proxy militias. Iran and Hamas have a marriage of convenience. Iran uses Hamas to fuel the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the pretext of “liberating Palestine,” in order to strengthen its influence in Arab countries. Hamas, in turn, uses Iran’s military and financial support to escalate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The targeting of Jordan is a shared goal for Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is committed to establishing a global caliphate. Hamas’s Islamic emirate in Gaza is its first stage The next one is destroying Israel in order to establish an Islamic emirate in the territory currently occupied by Israel and the West Bank. Jordan is next. Expanding the Hamas-controlled Islamic emirate into Jordan would put Hamas three steps closer towards its goal of a global Islamic caliphate.

Despite having a peace treaty with Israel, anti-Israel sentiments are widespread in Jordan. This is partly because the majority of Jordanians are Palestinians and also due to the active presence of Islamists in the country. In May 2024, Murad al-Adaileh, a Hamas-affiliated Jordanian politician, became the secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. In an interview with Al Jazeera, he urged the government to improve relations with Hamas and the resistance movement and to “push back” against the Israeli threat.

Iran and Hamas escalate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and then exploit widespread public hostility in Jordan towards Israel. As the Israel-Hamas war evolves and Israeli military pressure on Hamas in Gaza increases, Hamas leaders call on Jordanians to protest “by any means.” Responding to that call, Islamists in Jordan have and continue to initiate protests and demand the Jordanian government abolish its peace treaty with Israel. Some of these have become so violent and disruptive that Jordanian security forces have had to suppress them with force.

What does Iran want to do with Jordan?

Iran’s goal is to turn Jordan into a launching base for attacks against Israel. In the early stages of the Israel-Hamas war, Iraqi militias loyal to Iran asked Jordan to open its border so they could reach the Israel-Jordan border to fight Israel. Jordan refused. In May, Jordanian security services uncovered a Hamas terror cell armed by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, and led by senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri, who was killed in January 2024 in Beirut. Iran also smuggles weapons into Jordan from Syria and possibly Iraq. In June, Jordanian security forces revealed a large cache of explosives near Amman, reportedly smuggled from Syria by Iran.

Drugs smuggling is also a strong component of Iran, and its allies in the Assad regime and Hezbollah, efforts to destabilize Jordan. In early June, Jordanian security services foiled a massive drug smuggling operation from Syria into Jordan. Given Jordan’s economic challenges, it’s likely only a matter of time until Iran and Hamas incentivize individuals financially to launch terror attacks and engage in criminal activities.

However, Iran and Hamas are encountering obstacles in their attempt to destabilize Jordan:

  • First, Jordanians show zero tolerance for any attempts to destabilize the kingdom and overwhelmingly understand the strategy both Hamas and Iran are trying to employ. Predominantly Sunni, Jordanians hate the Shi’ite Iranian regime, limiting Iran’s influence.
  • Second, despite their hostility towards Israel, most Jordanians recognize the devastation Iranian-backed proxies have inflicted on Arab countries, including the Palestinians, under the guise of “liberating Palestine.” Jordan has made it clear it will not host Hamas leaders if they are deported from Qatar.
  • Third, Jordan is decisive in its use of its military to counter the Iranian threat from Syria. In the past year alone, the Jordanian army has attacked several weapons and drug storage sites in southern Syria, killing and arresting smugglers.
  • Fourth, Jordan’s regional and global partnerships are crucial in countering the threat from Iran and its proxies. Bedouin clans and Druze in southern Syria act as allies, creating a buffer zone along Jordan’s northern border.
  • Fifth and finally, Jordan’s intelligence cooperation with the United States, Israel, Egypt and Gulf Arab nations further bolsters its efforts to counter the Iranian threat.

Nevertheless, we must not forget that Iran and Hamas are marathon runners. In its relentless and undeterred pursuit of regional dominance, Iran has left a trail of death and destruction across the Middle East. Iran and its proxies are currently experiencing a dangerous sense of momentum and they will continue their efforts against Jordan until they are decisively stopped.

Preventing Tehran and Hamas from destabilizing Jordan is of strategic regional and global importance. If Hamas maintains control over Gaza and rebuilds its military power, the threat to Jordan will intensify, potentially leading to a wide-scale regional war that the West will inevitably have to confront.

Therefore, the West must act decisively to end Hamas’s rule in Gaza — a policy continuously stated by major Western powers.

Avi Melamed is a former Israeli intelligence official who went on to serve as deputy and then as senior Arab affairs adviser to Jerusalem Mayors Teddy Kollek and Ehud Olmert, operating as a negotiator during the first and second intifadas. He is the author of “Inside The Middle East | Entering A New Era,” and his latest docuseries, “The Seam Line,” available on the Izzy streaming platform, focuses on Jerusalem’s flashpoints and his work during the intifadas.


Iran and Hamas are targeting Jordan, hoping to create a new terror stronghold | Avi Melamed special to the USA TODAY Network | This article has already published in more that 225 other media and newspapers.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamedhttps://insidethemiddle-east.com
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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