July 22, 2010
Jordan-Iran Foreign Relations
Relations between Jordan and Iran were strained immediately following the establishment of the Islamic Republic due to the Hashemite Kingdom’s close relationship with the Pahlavi monarchy of Iran. Ties between the two states were most severely damaged, however, by Jordan’s support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1989. After Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, Iraq significantly increased its economic assistance to Jordan, and in 1981 an Iraqi-Jordanian Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation was established. That same year Iran and Jordan officially severed diplomatic ties. Jordan’s support for Saddam Hussein’s military effort was significant, and included providing Iraq with a volunteer force of fighters, giving Iraq access to the strategic port of Aqabah for the transport of military supplies, and publicly supporting Saddam Hussein while condemning the Islamic Republic.
Iran and Jordan resumed diplomatic ties in 1991, though relations between the two states have been slow to recover and each maintains grievances against the other. Iran appointed Ahmed Dastmalchian its first ambassador to Jordan in 1991. Dastmalchian is reported to have helped establish the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which operates illegally in Jordanian territory. In 1994, tensions flared when Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel. That same year hostilities escalated when Jordan expelled 21 Iranian diplomats shortly after a high-ranking Jordanian diplomat was killed in Syria-controlled West Beirut, Lebanon. Iranian officials were frustrated by the Hashemite Kingdom’s tolerance of Mujahedin-e Khalq’s presence in Jordan in the 1990s while Jordanian officials have been troubled by Iran’s interference in the domestic affairs of Arab states. Jordan’s recent request to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an organization that has been at odds with the Islamic Republic since its creation in 1981 and acts as a security umbrella for the Persian Gulf, indicates that Jordan’s government remains wary of Iran’s hegemonic regional ambitions.
Jordanian officials have been largely supportive of Iran’s right to develop a peaceful nuclear program. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has publicly opposed any military strike against Iran, advocating a diplomatic solution to the conflict instead. Abdullah has also linked Iran’s nuclear program to the Arab-Israeli conflict, suggesting that Iran would not pursue a nuclear program if there were peace between Israel and Palestine. Jordan has taken steps to develop its own nuclear program and has therefore been reluctant to criticize regional states from pursuing peaceful atomic energy.
Economic ties between Jordan and Iran have been extremely limited as a result of their troubled diplomatic relationship.
April 12, 2010: U.S. President Barack Obama met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to discuss Middle East peace prospects and Iran’s nuclear program. According to U.S. officials, “both leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
April 6, 2010: Jordan’s King Abdullah II voiced opposition to the use of military force against Iran: “The platform [Iran] use[s] is the injustice of the Palestinians and Jerusalem. So if you start taking those cards off the table, then Iranian influence on the Mediterranean through Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza diminishes or becomes non-existent. My view is that I am really against any military action in Iran, that is Pandora's Box. But by dealing with the core issue, that's when you start taking cards away from the Iranian regime.”
March 16, 2010: Jordanian Interior Minister Nayef Qadai called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program during a meeting with the Council of Arab Interior Ministers in Tunis. “The security and the stability of the Arab countries is directly linked to regional security. That is why we confirm our support to diplomatic and political solutions concerning the crisis over Iran's nuclear program,” said Qadai.
February 7, 2010: In an interview with CNN, Jordan’s King Abdullah II suggested that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are driven by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Today, Iran is putting itself as the defenders of the Palestinian cause… If we solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, why would Iranians want to spend so much money on a military program? It makes no sense. I mean, the country has social challenges. It has economic challenges. Why push the envelope in getting to a military program? For what cause? If you solve the problem, you don't need to pursue that path.”
November 16, 2009: Jordan’s King Abdullah II told a delegation of visiting American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) officials that his country was opposed to military strikes against Iran and stressed the need to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program diplomatically.
November 19, 2007: Jordan’s King Abdullah II stated, “Iran, I believe, does have aspirations to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians themselves are saying that.”
May 17, 2006: Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II. After the meeting, King Abdullah’s palace released a statement in which it quoted the King telling Mottaki, in reference to the dispute over its nuclear program, “force will lead to catastrophic consequences for the security and the stability of the region.”
July 17, 2011: The Managing-Director of the National Iranian Gas Company Javad Owji denied reports that Iran had offered to export natural gas to Jordan. “NIGC has been in talks for exporting natural gas to Iraq, Syria and even Lebanon, but it has so far made no offer to Jordan in this respect,” said Owji. According to Iran’s Tabnak News, Jordan’s Energy Minister Khalid Tuqan had stated the week prior that his country would consider Iran’s offer to export natural gas to Jordan.
September 4, 2010: Iranian ambassador to Jordan Mustafa Mosleh Zadeh met with Jordanian Chamber of Commerce President Nael Kabariti to discuss means of improving the two countries bilateral economic relations. Earlier that week Mosleh Zadeh also met with Amman Chamber of Commerce President Riad Saifi. The two similarly discussed economic and trade relations between Jordan and Iran.
May 11, 2011: Gulf Cooperation Council officials (GCC) began meeting to discuss Jordan’s request to join the GCC. The GCC originally formed in response to regional security concerns, including the emergence of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its expressed intent to export its revolution abroad. Observers have speculated that Jordan’s bid to join the GCC was born out of its unease with Iranian efforts to undermine regional security. Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Taher Adwan supported this conclusion in statements made to the media in which he expressed his country’s support for GCC foreign policy and its opposition to Iran’s interference in the domestic affairs of regional states.
March 16, 2011: Iranian officials announced that a visit by Jordan’s King Abdullah II during Iranian Nowruz celebrations had been cancelled. “This trip has been called off due to intense popular opposition and the opposition of decision-making institutions,” said a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran’s Parliament, Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash. He added, “Malik Abdullah's trip [to Iran], which…has been cancelled, could delay the downfall of Jordan's dictatorial regime.”
February 13, 2011: Jordan’s King Abdullah II sent separate cables to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulating them on the occasion of Iran’s National Day.
December 12, 2010: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff Rahim Mashaei met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman. During his visit Mashaei delivered a letter from Iran’s president to Abdullah.
October 13, 2010: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah II over the telephone. Ahmadinejad told Abdullah, “Iran welcomes further growth in the relations between the two countries and assumes reinvigoration and continuation of consultations serves the interests of both nations and the region.”
January 24, 2010: Mostafa Mosleh Zadeh was appointed Tehran’s new ambassador to Jordan. Mosleh Zadeh was formerly special aide to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
May 17, 2006: Jordan’s King Abdullah II met with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Amman to discuss his country’s displeasure with Iranian support for the terrorist organization Hamas. A Jordanian official elaborated, “We are very concerned about Tehran's support for radical groups that seek to wreck peace accords and push the region toward greater bloodshed.”