Jordan, US further cooperation for strategic interests

Friday, 2019-03-15 16:40:12
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Jordan's King Abdullah II (right) meets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. (Photo: Petra news agency)
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NDO – Jordan’s King Abdullah II recently made a trip to the United States in the context of Jordan striving to resolve the issue of migrants from its neighbour Syria and US President Donald Trump preparing to announce the Middle East peace plan. The visit offers an opportunity for the two sides to continue stepping up cooperation for common strategic interests, including fighting terrorism, seeking peaceful solutions and ensuring regional security.

Discussions between the Jordanian King and senior US government officials focused on bilateral relations and the Middle East issues. According to a statement from the White House, US Vice President Mike Pence talked with King Abdullah II on the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) and the conflicts in the region. The two sides touched on President Trump’s decision on the maintenance of a number of US troops in Syria. In fact, Jordan is considered an effective partner of the US in the fight against terrorism.

Having a shared borderline with Syria, Jordan inevitably suffers from the influx of refugees, as well as the stalking terrorist risks. Jordan’s economy has been heavily affected by the “burden” of Syrian migrants. More than 650,000 Syrian people have registered to take refuge with the United Nations body in Jordan since 2011, while the Jordanian government estimated that the country has received nearly 1.3 million refugees from Syria and spent more than US$10 billion to support them so far. Syria’s neighbouring kingdom has repeatedly complained about the burden on its infrastructure and its limited resources in receiving refugees. Therefore, Jordan needs support from the international community, especially from the US, in sharing the responsibility of supporting Syrian refugees.

After President Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, sources from the Middle East also revealed the construction of other US military bases in the region. The Syria-Iraq-Jordan junction is believed to be the place where the US is promoting the establishment of a strategic military base aiming to maintain its military presence in the Middle East and continue expanding its influence in such an important region. Despite having withdrawn troops from Syria, the US could not stop the fight against the IS. The threat from the extremist organisation has made Washington consider the possibility of maintaining a certain number of soldiers in Syria, as well as needing cooperation from Syria’s neighbouring countries, including Jordan, in helping the US to stop the smuggling of weapons and the bringing of terrorists into Syria right from the gateways.

At the mansion of the Jordanian Ambassador in Washington, King Abdullah II also had a 45-minute talk with President Trump’s Middle East peace team, in the context that the White House is going to announce its long-promised peace plan aiming to deal with the Israel-Palestine conflict. Located right next to Palestine and also home to nearly 2.2 million Palestinian refugees, Jordan always wants to promote peace and stability in neighbouring Palestine. Jordan has announced its support for the “two-state solution” to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Meanwhile, despite yet to be announced, President Trump’s “century agreement” (the peace plan) has faced strong criticism from many countries, especially Palestine, following the US leader’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The proposals made by the US in the peace plan have caused a lot of controversy. According to White House officials, the peace plan will focus on addressing the issues on the “final rule”, but not mention the establishment of a Palestinian State. Therefore, both Jordan and the US need to issue appropriate conducts to ensure the interests of both parties.

Jordan’s important role contributes to geopolitical stability in the Middle East, making the kingdom one of the US’s most important partners in the region. Promoting cooperation with Jordan helps the US have a stronger foothold, in the context of Washington currently promoting the withdrawal of troops from Syria but still wanting to maintain its presence in the heated Middle East region.