Jordan Spurns Iran’s Offer of 30 Years of Free Oil for Tourism Access

Doesn't Want to Allow Shi'ites Into Country

by Jason Ditz, November 23, 2012

What would you do for an offer of 30 years of free oil?

If you’re the Kingdom of Jordan, the answer apparently is not “allow Shi’ite pilgrims into your country,” as the Jordanian government has announced it has spurned an offer from Iran for exactly that.

Iranian Ambassador to Jordan Dr. Mostafa Mosleh-Zadeh initially presented the deal as 30 years of oil in return for Jordanian goods, but it was later revealed that Iran was seeking access for Shi’ite pilgrims to be allowed to visit the country for pilgrimages to certain religiously significant sites.

Jordan is currently facing major anti-monarch protests, in part a response to the government ending subsidies on fuel because they could no longer afford them. Iran’s offer would have seemingly allowed them to backtrack, but Jordanian officials say they didn’t want to risk the damage to their relationship with other Arab nations in the region that would presumably come from dealing with Iran.

Though this could be seen primarily as pandering to Jordan’s overwhelming Sunni majority, allowing Shi’ite pilgrims into the nation might also threaten an increase in sectarian violence, as Sunni Islamist factions have recently showed an eagerness to attack Shi’ite pilgrims when the opportunity presents itself.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz