Jordan to Qatar: Don't stand so close to me

When Saudi Arabia let a split among Gulf Cooperation Council nations to isolate Qatar, one Sunni nation was notably silent: Jordan. Also a key US ally, the Hashemite kingdom bided its time initially rather than jump to follow the Saudi lead over the dispute about Qatar’s support for Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran. Earlier today, Amman finally made its choice … kind of. They aren’t cutting ties entirely, but they’re making a step toward a full break:

Jordan has announced it is scaling back its diplomatic ties with Qatar and that it will close the local office of the Gulf nation’s Al-Jazeera TV channel. …

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani said in a statement that the decision was made to ensure regional stability, coordinate the policies of Arab countries and “end the crises in our region.”

They’re going to end the crises in the region by expanding this one? If that doesn’t make a lot of sense, the AP report has a pretty good explanation; Jordan gets significant financial backing from Saudi Arabia, and in the Middle East, money talks and everything else walks. It’s a little surprising that it took Jordan this long to fall in line, and the delay may have been intended to signal displeasure with the new GCC policy imposed by Riyadh.

Nevertheless, the Jordanians have fallen into line, which strengthens the Saudi hand in this fight. Turkey says it backs Qatar, which is a little surprising too, considering the animus Recep Erdogan has for the Bashar al-Assad regime, which is backed by Iran and its Hezbollah terrorists. Even if the recent remarks by Qatar’s emir about Hezbollah being a group of admirable freedom fighters was a hoax — and that’s not exactly established yet — the Qataris have been developing contacts with Hezbollah on the down-low for years. It’s a mess, and it’s only getting messier.

Hamas, for its part, is clearly auditioning for an Alfred E. Neuman Award with this “who, us?” routine. They’re shocked, shocked that Saudi Arabia and Egypt have lumped them in with, er, their parent organization, which took control of Egypt for a short while with the blessing of the Obama administration. My, how times have changed:

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Paris on Tuesday that Qatar must sever ties with Hamas and its historic parent, the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas said in a statement early Wednesday that al-Jubeir’s remarks “constitute a shock for our Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations.”

Hamas alleged that Israel “exploits these statements to carry out more violations against the Palestinian people.”

Hamas apparently wants to keep the exclusive license on exploiting and violating Palestinians while feeding from the Iranian trough via Qatar. The Jerusalem Post’s expert on Palestinian affairs agrees with my earlier take that Hamas is about to be the big loser in this crisis. And you know who might be the big winner? Hmmmm:

“Assuming that the Arab states continue to pressure Qatar, Hamas could lose the different forms of political, financial and logistical support it receives from Qatar,” said Ghassan Khatib, a vice president of Bir Zeit University. “That would be really bad news for Hamas.” …

“What happened saddens us. We hope that the wise and rational voices will be able to bring these brotherly states back together,” Maliki told a press conference alongside Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui.

Despite Maliki’s comments calling for a resolution, Khatib said the pressure on Qatar is “indirectly playing into the hands of the Palestinian leadership” and its strategy against Hamas.

The PA has taken a number of measures to pressure Hamas to cede control of the Gaza Strip in the past several weeks. In May, PA leaders informed Israel that it only wants to pay for some 64% of electricity Israel transfers to Gaza.

Don’t think for a moment that Mahmoud Abbas isn’t grinning from ear to ear right now.This is starting to look like a longer-range plan to give Abbas some breathing room to negotiate with Netanyahu. Perhaps this is a signal that even the Arabs have tired of using Israel as a scapegoat for all the problems in the Middle East, and want to focus exclusively on the big threat from Iran.