ATbar Jordan and the New Front in the Fight Against ISIS

Jordan and the New Front in the Fight Against ISIS

15/07/2015 | by Rothe, Chris  

Over the past eighteen months, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has captured large swaths of territory amidst a growing authoritarian breakdown across the Middle East, quickly establishing itself as a dangerous regional actor.  So far, ISIS’s territory is limited to the war-stricken states of Iraq and Syria, as the group has largely ignored Turkey to its north.  While cautious of provoking regional power and NATO member Turkey into confronting the group militarily, ISIS has been far less restrained with regards to its enemy to the south, Jordan.[1]

            Since joining the U.S. led international coalition against the Islamic State last September, the Hashemite monarchy of Jordan has become increasingly involved in the fight against ISIS.  This involvement only intensified after the group’s release of a video displaying the barbaric immolation of Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh this past February.  The highly publicized death of the captured pilot prompted a strong response from Jordan’s King Abdullah, who executed two convicted terrorists and carried out a series of air strikes in Syria in the days following the release of the video.[2]  But Jordan’s citizenry does not seem to share its king’s strong proclivity for vengeance. 

Jordan’s participation in the U.S. led coalition against the Islamic State has been subjected to heavy criticism in the Kingdom; as groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and even members of the Jordanian parliament have spoken out against military intervention in the Levant.[3]  By drawing Jordan into the seemingly endless Syrian Civil War, the Islamic State hopes to isolate the Hashemite Monarchy from its largely anti-interventionist citizenry.  ISIS barely poses a direct threat Jordan’s military, but the group can bolster its support in the kingdom by taking advantage of Jordan’s fragile economy and domestic instability.  Indeed, if Jordan wants to effectively confront the Islamic State, the monarchy will need to emphasize social and economic reform over military involvement. 

[1] Noah Feldman, “Why Jordan is Islamic State’s Next Target,” Bloomberg View, February 9, 2015,

[2] The Jerusalem Post Staff, “Lieberman praises Jordan’s King Abdullah for ‘harsh response’ to pilot’s execution by ISIS,” Jerusalem Post, February 2, 2015,

[3] Jonathan Broder, “Jordan Goes All In Against ISIS, but for How Long?” Newsweek, February 11, 2015,

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