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    5. Debris from Iranian drones rained down on Jordan, caught in ..


    Debris from Iranian drones rained down on Jordan, caught in the middle of a war in the Middle East.

    Rocket debris and shrapnel fell in Jordan as the military shot down Iranian missiles in the sky Saturday night. Photo: Musab Subuh

    Unable to fall asleep, Oun Alkaabneh was scrolling on his phone late Saturday night when he heard loud bangs and then a high-pitched explosion – all of which brought him to his feet.

    He rushed over. looked out of a window in Amman, the capital of Jordan, worried that someone had been hit by a car on the street.

    What he saw came as a shock. A giant piece of an Iranian shell, fired from the sky by the Jordanian military, crashed right outside his home. Shrapnel scattered across the block.

    That night, Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles toward Israel in an unprecedented retaliatory attack. Many of those shells flew directly over Jordan, which shares the world's longest border with Israel and the West Bank, Palestinian territory.

    “I thought about a lot of things that night,” Mr. Alkaabneh said. “But I just never imagined that a rocket would fall in my area.”

    The police arrived a few minutes later and cordoned off the area. Mr. Alkaabneh eventually went outside to look around and collected some small debris.

    The crash crater was covered with new asphalt on Tuesday morning, and Mr. Alkaabneh's street in the Marj al-Hamam area in Amman seems to have resumed its usual quiet hum.

    The hole in the road caused by broken debris has been filled with new asphalt. Photo: Musab Subuh

    But tension hangs in the air across Jordan, a country of more than 11 million people sandwiched between regional arch-rivals Israel directly to the west and Iran further to the east.

    There are many concerns about how Israel will choose to respond. . On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a rare joint statement called for maximum “self-restraint” in the Middle East to avoid “the dangers of war and its dire consequences.”

    Concerns are also brewing that Jordan's decision to shoot down Iranian missiles will be seen as support for Israel, which could put the country in Iran's crosshairs.

    The moves have embarrassed the West, given Jordan's long-standing support for Iran. Palestinians

    In 1948, during what is remembered as the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when the modern state of Israel was created, many Palestinian refugees fled to neighboring Jordan and today make up about half the country's population.

    < p>However, Jordan stressed that it would do the same regardless of which state or entity launched drones and missiles into its sovereign airspace.

    Jordan's decision to shoot down Iranian missiles can be seen as support for Israel. Photo: Musab Subu

    The shooting down of the Iranian shells was as much a message to both Iran and Israel: Jordan will not tolerate this dispute. be played out on its territory.

    Jordan will not become “the scene of a regional war,” Jordan's King Abdullah II stressed to U.S. President Joe Biden this week.

    “Jordan has taken a clear and harsh stance against Israel… highlighting the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the Gaza Strip,” said Omar al-Ayasra, a member of the Jordanian parliament.

    But “when Iran tried to strike Israel, we prevented its missiles and drones from reaching Israel through our airspace; this is because we reject the idea of ​​being used as a battlefield in a conflict.”

    In fact, Jordan considers both Iran and Israel its “main enemies in the region” because they have significant influence in all neighboring countries, said Mohamad Hamad al-Qatashe, dean of the Faculty of International Relations at the University of Jordan.

    Iran has significant influence in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, where it supports various militant groups that have wreaked havoc in the Middle East for years, including in the current war between Israel and Hamas, which began last October.

    < img src="/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/984665ffcd9e219c481793b46c10886e.jpg" /> Mohamad Hamad al-Qatashe says Jordan considers Iran and Israel its “main enemies in the region”; Photo: Musab Subu

    Israel, on the other hand, controls Jerusalem, another important city in the region.

    “We support the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians,” Mr. al-Qatasheh said. “But in this latest Iranian flying projectile controversy, we feel that Iran is trying to drag Jordan into a war that we have nothing to do with.”

    “Even if Iran's goal is to 'liberate Palestine,' it must AND it will not happen by invading Jordan's sovereign airspace and at the expense of our country.”

    If Iran succeeds in undermining Jordan's sovereignty and its borders become less secure and more porous, then “only Israel, another enemy, will benefit , which is trying to drive out the Palestinians and turn Jordan into a replacement for the Palestinians.”

    Jordan shares the same view as Egypt, whose Sinai Peninsula borders the southern Gaza Strip: Palestinians should be allowed to remain where they are, on their own land, rather than being displaced to neighboring countries.

    The Iranian missile debris that landed in Amman this week underscored Jordan's unique geographic and geopolitical position, long forcing the government and ruling monarchy to toe the line.

    In 1994, Jordan became the second Arab country to sign the agreement. The peace treaty with Israel, following in Egypt's footsteps, is a turning point that ends decades of war between the two countries.

    Over the years, Jordan has also expanded its security partnership with Washington. The depth of this partnership was revealed earlier this year when a drone struck a US military post in northeast Jordan called Tower 22 and killed three US soldiers.

    < p>However, over the past six months, as war in the sector As Gaza rages, public opinion in Jordan has grown significantly against Israel and the United States, its strongest ally.

    Protests swept through the streets of Amman, with demonstrators gathering outside the US and Israeli embassies. Crowds chanted “Death to America,” a surprising development for a country that has enjoyed a strong strategic partnership with Washington for many years.

    Protests broke out in Amman in October over the war in the Gaza Strip. Photo: MUSSA HATTAR/AFP

    Questions also arose about Jordan's relations with Israel.

    But Israel's preservation of the peace treaty with Israel allows Jordan “to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, to be able to serve and help them, and to raise the Palestinian cause in the international community,” Mr. al-Ayasra said.

    Indeed, Jordan has played a key role in the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip – when such deliveries are allowed by Israel – sending supplies through ground visits and airdrops.

    Only on Tuesday, a food aid convoy of 75 trucks arrived in destination. penetrate Gaza with the support of the Jordanian military.

    “Everyone is outraged by what is happening in the Gaza Strip and wants it to stop. Even I am a little upset about the peace treaty,” said Ghassan al-Qawasmi, 38, a lawyer of Palestinian origin.

    “But Jordan is a small country with limited resources and located in a vulnerable location; this must be preserved to keep us safe,” he said. “The US is the head of the devil, but it is the most powerful country in the world… [and] we need to survive; we cannot leave this union.”

    Essentially, Jordan is a buffer state in a region that has long been unstable and is now perhaps more under threat than ever – especially because Iran has sought to sow greater influence in the country, as it has done elsewhere in the Middle East.

    “This is what we saw in Syria, what we saw in Iraq before,” said Barakat al-Zud, a Jordanian journalist. “In all these countries, as order collapsed…radical armed groups spread and caused more chaos, refugees and bloodshed.”

    In Amman, the mood is mixed. Some, like Mr. Alkaabneh, feel safe knowing that the Jordanian air force is strong enough to shoot down enemy Iranian missiles.

    Others, like Nazik Tarauna, 68, who also lives on the street, where the debris fell remain concerned about what will happen next.

    “The war in Gaza must be stopped; then there will be hope, peace and security,” Ms. Tarauna said. “The whole region is under threat because of this [war].”

    “In Jordan, we are not used to this – this is the first time we have felt directly threatened… I was so afraid,” she said. “I hope Israel will not do the same thing – use Jordanian airspace – when they respond.”

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