Israeli Arab-affairs analyst Shimrit Meir on Sunday tweeted that the Trump administration is considering cutting aid to Jordan should it fail to support the political part of the “deal of the century” which should be presented after the September 17 Israeli elections.
Citing a Wall Street Journal report (Trump Peace Effort Traps Jordan Between U.S. and Palestinians) saying that as the Trump administration lays the groundwork for an Israel-PA peace plan, neighboring Jordan has been thrust into an awkward position, having to oppose Trump’s suggestions while depending on Washington’s support, Meir notes that the very idea shatters the sanctum sanctorum of the US Middle Eastern policy across generations.
According to Meir, in Israel, too, the Netanyahu security apparatus, which has been traditionally attentive to the Jordanian king’s needs since Golda met Abdullah I, are shocked by the notion of cutting off Jordan, and could possibly attempt to block such a move, Trump or no Trump.
On the other hand, Meir continues, truth be told, Israel has been growing a bit tired of the fact that of all the Jordanian public’s complaints against its king – and there are plenty of those – the only thing the monarchy has focused on is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It’s a move orchestrated by the Islamists, Meir argues, adding: “The question is why is it a good thing?”
According to Wikipedia cited sources, Jordan’s GDP per capita slowed to just 2% after the Arab Spring of 2011. A substantial increase of the population due to the influx of Syrian refugees, coupled with slowed economic growth and rising public debt led to a worsening of poverty and unemployment in the country. As of 2015, Jordan’s GDP is only $37.6 billion, ranking it 89th worldwide. Israel, next door, with roughly the same size population, boasts a $350.9 billion GDP.
According to official US sources as well as Arab media, the US awards Jordan between $6 and $8 billion a year in cash, besides granting it a Most favored nation (MFN) status, as do most Western countries. The US has also actively pressed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to leave Jordan alone regarding the economic austerity measures the fund normally demands of its third world debtors.
In short, getting on President Donald Trump’s wrong side could cost King Abdullah II close to a third of his economy. Ouch.
Shimrit Meir argues that pushing the king at this time would not help peace; instead, such a move is likely to encourage chaos. As it is, an estimated 80% of the king’s subjects do not belong to his political base, the Bedouin, and reports show the Bedouin are not so enamoured with him either.
Also: should the US cut its aid to Jordan, there’s no telling who would fill the void. Sure, it could be the Saudis or the Qataris, but it could also be the Iranians, the Russians, or the Chinese, all of whom are eager to grab a strategic post along Israel’s eastern flank.
On the other hand, the King might just capitulate and do what he’s told. As always, Jordan does not have a foreign policy as it does a pain management program.