From Negative to Positive Stability

Type Report
Title From Negative to Positive Stability
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Publisher Rand Corporation
This report describes the late-2014 stability of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and examines
how the Syrian refugees are likely to affect Jordan’s long-term stability. The key finding
from this research is that the Syrian refugee crisis, while challenging in the near term, offers
opportunities to improve Jordan’s long-term economic, social, and security outlook.
Research for this report was completed in late 2014. Some significant events and trends
in 2015 may shed light on RAND’s original findings and forecasts. These include the murder
of the Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh by the Islamic State in January
2015, the slow but significant growth of the Syrian refugee population in Jordan, the increasing
challenges in funding refugee support activities in Jordan, the kingdom’s growing role in
regional stability activities, and the deteriorating security situation in Jerusalem. However,
none of these 2015 events appears to negate assessments and forecasts made in late 2014. Most
prominently, the assessment that Jordan would remain stable through 2015 has so far borne
out. Unfortunately, so did the assessment that any failure to aggressively fund Jordan’s refugee
support programs would, in turn, erode opportunities to leverage the Syrian refugee situation
to improve Jordan’s long-term stability. Recent reporting indicates that more refugees are
impoverished in 2015 than in 2014. Further research is needed to assess the impacts of wavering
donor support in 2015.
The remainder of this report is presented as written in late 2014, with minor inclusive edits.
As of late 2014, many American and Jordanian experts believed Jordan to be stable and
unlikely to collapse from internal unrest or external invasion, at least through the end of 2015.
However, some observers believed that the kingdom’s stability depended more on popular
reluctance to confront the government rather than popular support for the government. One
expert interviewed for this report called this dynamic negative stability, or stability driven by
fear of unintended consequences rather than positive support. By properly managing the refugee
crisis, the Jordanian government can influence its population toward a more lasting, optimistic,
and robust internal stability.

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