David Pollock is the Bernstein Fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on regional political dynamics and related issues.
A new public opinion poll in Jordan, commissioned by The Washington Institute and conducted in March, documents a surprisingly solid popular rejection of Russia’s “military action” in Ukraine.
By comparison, Jordan’s ties with the United States rate higher, especially in the security realm. Moreover, on these and other questions in the survey, there are remarkably few generational differences in attitudes between Jordanian adults above and below 30 years of age.
Because political opinion polls are relatively open and accepted in Jordan, and the monarchy is believed to pay them some attention, these findings suggest that Amman senses a comfortable margin for maneuver in its overall foreign policy orientation. On the most neuralgic domestic issue, too, at least a bare majority (53%) of Jordanians voice agreement with this assertion: “It’s a good thing we don’t have mass street protests here against corruption these days, as in some other Arab countries or in the past.” The exception to this prevailing public acceptance, however, is the prospect of expanding normalization with Israel, which remains highly unpopular among the Jordanian public.
Asked about “the Russian military actions in Ukraine,” nearly three-quarters (72%) of Jordanians voice a generally negative view. More specifically, two-thirds say that these Russian moves “are to blame for the recent rise in food prices here.” And just 14% label good ties with Russia “very important” for Jordan, with an additional quarter (27%) calling those ties “somewhat important.”
A modestly larger proportion of Jordan’s public says good relations with the United States are either very (18%) or somewhat (34%) important. This is roughly on a par with China, as has been the case in other recent polls. But the United States has a clear advantage over either Russia or China, or any other foreign nation, in several key subcategories. A plurality (43%) pick the United States as “the country that can best help protect us against our foreign enemies.“ A smaller plurality also see the United States as the outside power that “can best promote human rights and democracy in our country” (37%).
To explore this data and more, access TWI's interactive public opinion poll database here.
More surprisingly, given the common media trope of declining American interest or influence in the Middle East, a plurality (39%) of Jordanians think the United States is still “the country that will probably be most influential in our region ten years from now.” Russia and China are statistically tied for second place on that question, at 25-26% each.
In addition, significantly, the majority of Jordanians (56%) disagree with this blunt proposition: “We cannot count on the United States these days, so we need to look more to Russia or China as partners.” In this respect Jordanians differ somewhat from their Gulf Arab kin, where the latest surveys show narrow majorities of Saudis, Emiratis, and Kuwaitis agreeing with that pessimistic conclusion about American unreliability.
As for what Jordanians want most from the United States, responses are varied. A narrow plurality (33%) pick “helping us to resolve regional conflicts diplomatically.” Two other choices follow closely behind, each with around one-quarter of responses: “advanced weapons for our armed forces,” or “investment, trade, and construction projects.” A fourth option comes in unexpectedly low, at just 15%: “showing respect for our religion and culture.”
In stark contrast with any of these extra-regional powers, Iran rates very low in perceived importance. A mere 17% say good ties with Tehran are even “somewhat important” for Jordan. Further, the majority (60%) of Jordanians agree with this purposely provocative proposition: “Wherever Iran intervenes, it hurts the local Arabs and does not help the Palestinians.” Nevertheless, the Jordanian public is exactly evenly divided—47% each—on whether “a renewed nuclear deal with Iran” will have positive or negative implication for their region.
Yet Israel remains even more unpopular than Iran among Jordanians today. A mere 10 percent or so, young and old alike, have even a “somewhat” favorable opinion about the late 2020 Abraham Accords between Israel and four other Arab states (the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan). And the same very low percentage of Jordanians agree, a quarter-century after their own formal peace with Israel, that “people who want to have business or sports contact with Israelis should be allowed to do so.” Clearly, the recent warming of official Jordanian-Israeli relations has not trickled down to the grass-roots level.
Methodological Note: the preceding analysis is based on findings from a face-to-face survey among a representative national sample of 1,000 Jordanian citizens, conducted by a credible, completely apolitical local commercial firm. The survey used standard geographic probability methods, yielding a statistical margin of error approximately 3.5 percentage points. The pollster provided strict assurances of confidentiality, public health and safety protocols, detailed demographic breaks, and quality fieldwork controls. Additional methodological specifications, including full Arabic and original English questionnaire, sampling procedures, and other details are readily available upon request.