My FPRI article on ISIL threat to Jordan

Over at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), I write about Jordan’s concerns about the Islamic State. Here’s the article in full.

And the intro:

The swiftness with which the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, now the Islamic State) assaulted and overran northern Iraq brings a new level of concern to policymakers. The offensive blew a hole in Washington’s desire to maintain “a ring of Syrian containment” that favored a political solution with limited measures to support rebels against the Assad regime. As the organization expands in number and territory, and ambitiously declaring the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate, anxiety is growing among leaders and citizens in the neighborhood. Jordan, the key U.S. ally bordering territories held by the Islamic State and comprising a central part of its desired Sunni empire, is precariously situated on the frontline of the ISIL’s violent campaign.

Jordan is regularly perceived in strategic terms as a “buffer state” between Israel and its regional adversaries, between the Sunni Gulf States and the “Shi’a Crescent,” and as a receptive host to waves of refugees amid regional turmoil. But while the small kingdom is practiced in its role as regional shock absorber, the civil wars and associated state weakness in two of its immediate neighbors long dominated by strongmen (Syria and Iraq) presents a new challenge. Moreover, turmoil and tenuous status quo conditions in other proximate areas (Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine) present a geographic “ring of fire,” unsettling citizens and officials alike.

President Obama warned last month that the security vacuum from ISIL’s expansion raises the prospect that destabilization will “spill over into some of our allies like Jordan.” How vulnerable is Jordan to conflict diffusion from neighboring violence? What factors create immediate security risks for the country? What options are available to mitigate the risks facing this crucial U.S. ally?