AKEED, Husam Assal
Local media outlets provided varying coverage of the two meetings that Lower House of Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh had with the Iranian ambassador and the Syrian chargé d"affaires in Amman. The coverage ranged from running the official story to ignoring the news altogether, with some outlets cautiously hailing some statements that came out of the two meetings.
The Jordan News Agency (Petra) covered Tarawneh"s meeting with Iranian Ambassador Mojtaba Ferdosipour in a story headlined "Tarawneh Receives Invitation To Take Part in Conference of Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Tehran." The story stated the following: "Tarawneh noted the importance of strengthening cooperation between the Kingdom and Iran, stressing to the Iranian ambassador that it is important for his country to play agreed-on roles and to support countries of the region, and not parties." Ferdosipour "reiterated his country"s support for Jordan"s position toward the U.S. decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, describing it as an honorable, distinguished, and very important position. He said: Iran supports Hashemite custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. He called on the countries of the region to unite to face Israeli arrogance."
On the other hand, Petra made no mention of Tarawneh"s meeting with Ayman Alloush, Syrian chargé d"affaires in Amman, which was reported by many other media outlets.
The interest of local newspapers in Tarawneh"s meeting with Ferdosipour and Alloush varied. Al Rai daily did not make any mention of Tarawneh"s meetings. Al Dustour ran the Petra story on Tarawneh"s meeting with the Iranian ambassador in one of the inside pages. It made no mention of the meeting with the Syrian chargé d"affaires.
The English-speaking newspaper Jordan Times highlighted the story of Tarawneh"s meeting with the Iranian ambassador on its front page. The story was mostly taken from the Petra version. It also ran a story in an inside page about a meeting between Yahya Saud, member of the Lower House"s Palestine Committee, and the Iranian ambassador. The newspaper made no mention of Tarawneh"s meeting with the Syrian chargé d"affaires.
Al Sabeel, which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, also carried the Petra story on Tarawneh"s meeting with the Iranian ambassador on its front page. The newspaper published a story on its website, but not in its hardcopy version, headlined "Tarawneh Meets Assad"s Representative in Amman; This Is What Happened in Meeting." It talked about Tarawneh protesting against "not inviting Syria to the emergency meeting of the (Arab Inter-Parliamentary) Union on Jerusalem in Morocco last week." The story quoted the Syrian diplomat as telling Tarawneh that "Amman is closer to Damascus than (the Syrian governorate of) Latakia."
Al Ghad daily covered Tarawneh"s meeting with the Iranian ambassador on its front page and in its inside pages. It carried the Petra story. It also ran a story in one of its inside pages headlined "Atef Tarawneh "Congratulates" Alloush on Victories of Syrian Army." The story is the same one posted on the website of the Lower House of Parliament.
Fahed Khitan wrote an op-ed column in Al Ghad headlined "Parliamentary Diplomacy…Diversifying Options, Not Making U-Turn." He spoke about the openness of parliamentary diplomacy on Tehran and Damascus, contrary to government diplomacy. He said that these moves were not an alternative to Jordan"s relationship with certain Arab countries. Rather, they are meant to diversify options. He added: "Jordan is not a party to struggles in the region. Its relations with other countries are governed by interests, and not axes and their agendas."
Al Anbat newspaper published a story on its front page headlined "Tarawneh Protests Against Not Inviting Syria to Meeting of Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union." It also ran the Petra story in one of the inside pages. Moreover, Al Anbat published a report on its front page headlined "Has Jerusalem Crisis Contributed to Rapprochement Between Amman and Tehran?" It talks about "Jordan"s cautious openness on Iran in the form of political and economic meetings that were made public in the media." The report adds: "The story about the meeting between the speaker of the Lower House of Parliament and the Iranian ambassador in Amman cannot be separated from the development in the relationship and in its level between the two countries, especially in the wake of the Jerusalem crisis and the moves by Arab and Islamic countries to oppose Trump"s decision."
Al Majd newspaper, which is close to the Syrian regime, published a story headlined "Atef Tarawneh Meets Syrian, Iranian Ambassadors in Amman-Important Indicator." It spoke about "the two meetings and the political messages behind them." The story cited observers as saying that "the meeting between the speaker of the Lower House of Parliament and the ambassadors of Syria and Iran could open the doors to future rapprochement between Amman and Damascus and Tehran. However, this will not be urgent and dramatic."
Electronic sites covered the two meetings extensively. However, most of them cited the stories of Petra and the Lower House of Parliament, while changing the headlines and focusing on certain points in the two meetings.
Journalist Ibrahim Qubeilat wrote an article headlined "Amman…Alliances and Maneuvers in Stoppage Time," in which he spoke about the political messages behind Tarawneh"s two meetings. The article said: "Since the establishment of the Kingdom, its map of alliances has never seen such confusion. This is a reflection of the reality and conditions of the region and the world around it. The best evidence of this is the flurry of diplomatic activity by Jordan regionally and internationally." He added: "Suddenly, the decision-maker has opened the door to all routes and in all directions to explore new alliances."
The AKEED Monitor observed that the media in general covered the two meetings, while focusing on the official story. Very few media outlets produced analytical pieces. Meanwhile, it was noticeable that Petra ignored Tarawneh"s meeting with Ayman Alloush. Media outlets close to the government ignored both meetings.
The AKEED Monitor thinks that there is cautious welcome of the two meetings by the media, which was clear in the selected headlines of the news, especially highlighting "Iranian support for Hashemite custodianship over Jerusalem" in the headlines.