Jordan, Regional/Global: US warning of risk to Jordanian port credible, despite denials aimed at downplaying regional threat from al-Qaeda-linked groups
On 15 September the US embassy in Jordan warned against travelling to the port city of Aqaba “for at least the next 48 hours”, citing “a possible imminent threat in the Gulf of Aqaba region”. On 11 August the US withdrew a similar advisory warning against travel to the neighbouring Israeli resort of Eilat, but only after significant lobbying by Tel Aviv. Jordan’s Media Affairs Minister played down the US warning, suggesting that Aqaba is “not exposed to any threats”.
Rocket attacks launched from Sinai struck the two cities on 2 August (killing a taxi driver in Aqaba) and also on 22 April. Israel blamed Hamas, while Egypt was slightly more oblique, accusing Gaza-based Palestinians. We maintain our assessment, however, that the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB, an al-Qaeda in Iraq-linked group) were the likely culprits since neither the Israeli nor the Egyptian claim is credible. We believe the group has serious capability at various points in the region, and so the American warning is consistent with the local context.