9 May 2019

Joas Wagemakers on VPRO on the remarkable diplomatic actions of Jordan on the global stage

Amman Jordanië © iStockphoto.com
Amman Jordan © iStockphoto.com

On May 7th 2019, dr. Joas Wagemakers (Islam and Arabic) was a guest on the VPRO Bureau Buitenland radio show to talk about the remarkable diplomatic direction of Jordan on the global stage.

Dr. Joas Wagemakers

Jordan has always been an important ally within the conservative Sunni faction of the Gulf states, which includes Saudi Arabia. Which is what makes it remarkable that the Jordan king Abdullah openly initiated conversations with countries like Iraq and Turkey.  

Recent history

"If you look at recent history this is indeed odd, because Jordan has been an ally to the Gulf countries in the past years, especially to conservative kingdoms such as Saudi Arabia. But if you look further into the past, you see that Jordan has always had to navigate through interests of several groups," explains Wagemakers. About a hundred years ago, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were at war; relations were not good. "You see that Jordan, due to not being a powerful country, has never been able to pick its friends, but had to resort to what is available."


Saudi Arabia has received negative media attention in the past months, which shed negative light on a country that was previously considered stable and trustworthy. "This could have been part of why Jordan is now looking for a safe haven elsewhere," according to Wagemakers. Jordan's poor economic situation may also add to the country approaching other superpowers. "Moreover, countries such as Iraq and Turkey are not by definition enemies of Jordan. They do have things in common."