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Jordan in an uneasy place over Gulf spat

Despite bitter past relations with Qatar, Jordanian officials avoided taking sides in the latest Gulf spat.
CORRECTION - Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attend a welcome ceremony at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman on March 28, 2017 ahead of talks on the eve of the Arab League summit. / AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI / The erroneous byline appearing in the metadata of this photo by Khalil MAZRAAWI has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Khalil MAZRAAWI] instead of [Marwan IBRAHIM]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from a

The last thing Jordan wanted was to be forced into choosing sides in the latest Gulf dispute that erupted unexpectedly June 5. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt jointly severed diplomatic relations with Doha and took additional measures that included closure of airspace to Qatar Airways flights, expulsion of Qatari nationals and blocking internet access to news websites associated with Qatar, primarily Al Jazeera. The declared reasons for this unprecedented action were allegations that Qatar was funding terrorist groups and was interfering in the domestic affairs of these countries in clear violation of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreements and international law.

The traditionally cautious Jordanian diplomacy was taken aback. But it was expected to show solidarity with its Gulf allies, especially Saudi Arabia. A day later, Amman announced that it was downgrading diplomatic representation with Qatar, asking the Qatari ambassador to leave, and revoking the license of Al Jazeera's office in Jordan. But it reiterated that Qatari nationals were still welcome in the kingdom. Furthermore, Royal Jordanian flights to Doha were not interrupted. By choosing a watered-down action, Amman was hoping to satisfy Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, the two capitals leading the Qatar boycott, without having to adopt extreme actions.

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