Jan 12, 2022 - World

Jordan seeks big aid package from Biden

Ayman Safadi. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty

AMMAN, Jordan — With a big aid package granted by the Trump administration about to expire, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has traveled to Washington seeking a new and improved deal.

Why it matters: Jordan is struggling with an economic crisis and is dependent on U.S. financial assistance, which totaled $1.65 billion in 2021. A five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) that guarantees at least $1.25 billion in annual U.S. aid expires in September.

Driving the news: Safadi's agenda this week includes a meeting with Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Thursday and several meetings with officials whose portfolios cover security, foreign aid, energy and refugee issues. He'll also meet with members of Congress, think tank experts and American Jewish leaders.

  • The Jordanian Foreign Ministry said Safadi would discuss the Palestinian issue and efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis, while also working toward a new MOU.

What they're saying: Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and former Middle East negotiator in multiple U.S. administrations, said that in a volatile region where at least four Arab states are in varying states of dysfunction, Jordan — despite its economic and political problems — represents a stable and important partner for the United States.

  • “Increasing bilateral assistance in the context of the 2018 MOU would be a small investment, and as the U.S. shifts its priorities to Asia, conveys at least a small signal that it values its regional partners," Miller said.
  • Mofid Deek, a retired U.S. diplomat now living in Jordan, said that he expects the total amount of U.S. government aid to Jordan to increase and that Biden has a keen interest in Jordan's stability. "There is also strong U.S.-Jordan coordination on the strategic level especially on the cause of peace in Palestine," he said.
  • Aaron Magid, a U.S. expert on Jordanian affairs, said that with the Hashemite kingdom's national debt climbing to around $45 billion and unemployment at 23%, securing over $1 billion in annual U.S. aid is a key priority for Jordan's foreign policy.
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