Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Was Jordan the Target of a Pipeline Attack?

« Flames rise from a gas pipeline in the northern Sinai after terrorists attacked the Jordanian pipeline in the northern Sinai on February 5.
(AFP/Getty Images)

Iran would love to see Jordan’s government turn radical. By Brent Nagtegaal
On February 5, a gas terminal exploded in the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian authorities originally reported that the catastrophe was caused by a leak. We now know that four masked terrorists were responsible for detonating a bomb inside the terminal.
The terminal delivers gas to Israel, Jordan and Syria. The main gas artery from Egypt’s Port Said diverts into two pipelines, one heading toward Israel, the other into Jordan. It would seem the obvious target of the three was Israel.
Astoundingly, it was the Jordanian pipeline that was targeted! This would be quite the oversight by the terrorists if Israel was the intended target.
While there has been some disruption of flow into Israel, Jordan stands to be hurt much more from the attack on the El Arish-Ashkelon natural gas pipeline. Globes reports that Israel should again receive gas within a week, but it will take two months before the flow to Jordan will be restored. Reuters estimates it will be “over a week” before Jordan gets gas.
Jordan receives 80 percent of its electricity needs from this single pipeline. With its gas flow damaged, the nation has only 30 days or less of electricity-generating fuel in reserve. Already, the cost for power generation using heavy fuels has surged.
Millions of Jordanians losing their electricity could easily incite the country’s Palestinian majority to intensify government protests. It could create a volatile environment for yet another round of Arab protests.
“Some of Jordan’s neighbors might be interested in increasing instability there, igniting a chain reaction that could throw the whole region into an armed conflict,” Oded Aran, former Israeli ambassador to Jordan, writes in the Israeli daily Haaretz. He then notes Iran as that instigating neighbor.
Looking at a map, it is easy to see why Iran would like a regime change in Jordan. As Egypt falls to radical Islam, Jordan remains the only country touching Israel that is not ruled from Tehran.
It’s impossible to know for sure if Jordan was the intended target of the February 5 attack. What is known is that Jordan is the only other Arab state, apart from the ailing Egypt, that is friendly to Israel—a fact Iran would like to change.