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Jordan bets on GCC deal to spice up economic system

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Jan 12, 2021

Jordan was fast to welcome the historic settlement between Qatari and different Gulf leaders signed Jan. 5, below which full diplomatic relations have been restored whereas ending three and a half years of an financial blockade imposed collectively in June 2017 by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on Qatar.

The settlement was reached at a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) assembly within the Saudi metropolis of Al-Ula, which was chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attended the reconciliation summit. Egypt, which isn’t a part of the GCC, additionally signed the settlement.

In an announcement issued on Jan. 5, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi was quoted as saying, “The ‘Al-Ula Statement’ is a considerable achievement to heal the rift, end the Gulf crisis and resume brotherly ties to normal, which enhances Gulf solidarity and stability.” He added that “the move also contributes to strengthening Arab solidarity and supporting efforts against common challenges.” He additionally lauded Kuwaiti and US efforts in ending the disaster.

Jordan feels notably relieved because it needed to embrace a cautious diplomatic line when the disaster first erupted in June 2017. The 4 nations had severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and enforced an financial blockade that included closing land borders and airspace earlier than Qatari airways. Qatar was accused of supporting terrorist teams and interfering within the inside affairs of neighboring nations.

In response, Jordan was compelled to downgrade diplomatic ties with Doha, asking the Qatari ambassador to depart and revoke the license of Al Jazeera information community. It stopped in need of taking additional actions. The strikes have been meant to indicate a semblance of solidarity with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, however with out scary Qatar, the place an estimated 40,000 Jordanian expatriates are working.

King Abdullah II was the pinnacle of the Arab summit again then however selected to not mediate and left that job for Kuwait. Aside from the financial fallout — as Jordanian producers have been unable to export their merchandise to Qatar by land — Amman felt that the disaster would weaken its efforts to confront US President Donald Trump’s controversial strikes with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace stalemate, together with his resolution to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and stroll away from the two-state resolution.

The Gulf disaster had strained relations between Amman and Riyadh, the latter wanting Amman to take sides. Jordan had pulled out of a Saudi-led navy coalition in opposition to the Houthi rise up in Yemen a couple of weeks after Riyadh launched its marketing campaign there in March 2015.

But in King Abdullah’s view, avoiding additional intra-Arab divisions and specializing in widespread enemies would serve Amman’s greatest pursuits. He had sought to enhance ties with Doha, which had been strained below former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The new emir had attended the March 2017 Arab summit held in Amman and was warmly acquired.

As the Gulf disaster lingered, King Abdullah took the daring move to revive full diplomatic ties and trade ambassadors with Doha in July 2019. At that point, native analysts noticed the move as underlying Jordan’s impartial overseas coverage course and need to steer clear of intra-Arab squabbles. It additionally marked divergence between Amman and Riyadh over approach relating to the US proposed regional peace plan. It additionally mirrored Amman’s frustration that billions of {dollars} in Saudi investments have been delayed since a joint fund was enacted in 2017.

When Jordan referred to as on the Gulf states to assist help its ailing economic system following mass protests that led to the sacking of the federal government in June 2018, Saudi Arabia hosted a four-nation assembly in Mecca the identical month that was attended by Kuwait and the UAE, along with Jordan. The three Gulf states pledged an assist bundle price $2.5 billion within the type of a money deposit with the Central Bank of Jordan, World Bank mortgage ensures for the dominion, annual help for the state finances for 5 years and financing for growth tasks. Aside from a $1 billion deposit from the three Gulf states to help the Central Bank of Jordan, little else materialized from the Mecca assembly.

Meanwhile, Qatar, which was not invited to the 2018 assembly, stepped in two days later to supply a $500 million assist bundle to Jordan. The bundle included investments, challenge finance and job alternatives for Jordanians within the Gulf state. And in August 2018, the 2 nations launched a job web site geared toward offering 10,000 job alternatives for Jordanians in Qatar. 

The Qatari gesture was welcomed by Jordan and is believed to have paved the best way for a fair bolder move by King Abdullah when he invited the Qatari emir to go to Amman in February 2020, bringing relations to full normalization.

While relations with Riyadh are greatest described as “stable” for now, King Abdullah enjoys shut private ties with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed. Jordan had prevented criticizing the normalization agreements signed between Israel on one facet and the UAE and Bahrain on the opposite final September. Jordan has maintained a great working relationship with Kuwait and Bahrain as nicely.

Analysts right here imagine that Amman shall be in a stronger regional place when the Joe Biden administration takes over later this month. King Abdullah has labored with Biden for years, and the latter has dedicated to backing the two-state resolution and supporting the dominion. This may even assist enhance Amman’s ties with Riyadh and replicate positively on its financial relations with the GCC usually.

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