In my continuing interview series, I talked to Bruce Riedel, a former residential Mideast adviser now at the Brookings Institute (he is also a Tablet Magazine contributor). We spent most of our time on Egypt, but he closed by warning about Jordan.
Which “other friends” are most important?
From an American standpoint, Jordan is the one that is both at risk and critically important. And for Israel, too. Jordan is absolutely vital to fighting terrorism. They have the best intelligence service in the Middle East—
Other than Israel’s?
I would say they have the best. They sit on a vital piece of territory, and they face many of the same problems Tunisia and Egypt face, of a large youth bulge with high unemployment and underemployment, and without the oil money to buy off political enemies. The little Gulf states and Saudi Arabia are much less at risk because you may not have a job, but you still get a salary.
I think Jordan is something to keep a very close eye on here, because the stakes are very high for the United States and Israel. The Hashemite monarchy has been a very loyal and important friend for over half a century. And just as Israel-Egypt is an important peace treaty, Israel-Jordan is as well.
Crisis in Cairo [Tablet Magazine]