Praemon

How Jordan Fits Into American Foreign Policy

How Jordan Fits Into American Foreign Policy

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The Kingdom of Jordan, a Middle Eastern country smaller than many American states, has found itself in an increasingly unpredictable environment since 2003. Conflicts in Israel/Palestine, Syria, and Iraq surround it, and its economy is straining with 18% unemployment, high taxes, and corruption.[1]

Jordanian politics, as one might expect, reflect the state’s unstable surroundings and its weak economy. To maintain stability, the government searches constantly for external funding, reliable economic ties, and a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The United States is particularly interested in the stability of the Kingdom and chooses economic aid as its primary method for achieving that stability. In exchange for clamping down on terrorism and responsibly accepting Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian refugees, Jordan receives massive amounts of money from the United States to maintain its political and economic stability.

From 2015 to 2017, America gave Jordan nearly $1.5 billion in military aid to help the country counter ISIS. Since 2018, however, aid to Jordan has been almost exclusively economic, reflecting the success of the international military campaign against the Islamic State. In 2017, Jordan was just behind Iraq and Israel in terms of total aid, being given just under $1.5 billion in economic and military assistance from the United States that year.[2]

The United States’ interest in a stable Jordan has not weakened in the years following the territorial defeat of ISIS. In 2018, Senator Lindsey Graham pledged that Jordan would receive, on average, $1.275 billion per year through 2022.[3]The data indicates that this has been the case so far, with Jordan receiving $1.16 billion in FY2018.[4] As of early 2019, Jordan was the third largest recipient of American aid, after Israel and Afghanistan.[5] Aid from the United States for FY2019 totals $890 million as of today, and nearly every penny goes to “governance and civil society.”[6] In other words, the United States gives Jordan millions to run its own government, including its administrative bureaucracy, legal system, and subnational governments.[7]

The United States’ economic aid, some say, is intended to ease the monetary burden faced by the Jordanian government. The United States is aware of the stringent rules the International Monetary Fund places on states securing loans, as well as the other struggles faced by Jordan, such as corruption and unemployment. In accordance with IMF rules, the Jordanian government increased taxes and removed certain subsidies in recent years. In a 2018 press conference in Amman, Sen. Lindsey Graham said that he and other lawmakers would ask the IMF “about taking some pressure off Jordan regarding economic austerity measures.” [8] Others, however, argue that American economic aid encourages corruption and authoritarianism by maintaining the status quo.

Though American aid to Jordan is primarily economic, the United States committed to provide at least $350 million in annual defense aid to Jordan.[9] Jordan remains an important military partner of the United States; as of April 2019, there were 2,000 American troops in Jordan.[10]

Jordan is a critical part of the United States’ strategy to limit unpredictable economic and political unrest in the Middle East, to maintain Israel’s security, and to counter terrorism in the region. In the eyes of America, Jordan’s primary role is to serve as a stable buffer between Israel and hostile forces and to maintain strong American economic, political, and military influence in the region. 


[1] “Jordan.” 2019. The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 16 September. Accessed at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/jo.html

[2] “Jordan.” 2019. U.S. Foreign Aid By Country, FY2018. United States Agency for International Development. 13 June. Accessed at: https://explorer.usaid.gov/cd/JOR?fiscal_year=2018&measure=Obligations

[3] “U.S. Aid to Jordan ‘likely to exceed’ pledged $6.3 billion.” 2018. The Jordan Times. 21 February. Accessed at: http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/us-aid-jordan-%E2%80%98-likely-exceed%E2%80%99-pledged-63-billion

[4] “Jordan.” 2019. U.S. Foreign Aid By Country. FY2018. United States Agency for International Development. 13 June. Accessed at: https://explorer.usaid.gov/cd/JOR?fiscal_year=2018&measure=Obligations

[5] Sharp, Jeremy. 2019. “Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations.”  Congressional Research Service. Pp. 12. 9 April. Accessed at: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33546.pdf

[6] “Jordan.” 2019. U.S. Foreign Aid By Country, FY2019. United States Agency for International Development. 13 June. Accessed at: https://explorer.usaid.gov/cd/JOR?measure=Obligations&fiscal_year=2019

[7] Ibid.

[8] “U.S. Aid to Jordan ‘likely to exceed’ pledged $6.3 billion.” 2018. The Jordan Times. 21 February. Accessed at: http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/us-aid-jordan-%E2%80%98-likely-exceed%E2%80%99-pledged-63-billion

[9] “U.S. Security Cooperation With Jordan.” 2019. Fact Sheet, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State. 19 May. Accessed at: https://www.state.gov/u-s-security-cooperation-with-jordan/

[10] Sharp, Jeremy M. 2019. “Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations.”  Congressional Research Service. Pp. 12. 9 April. Accessed at: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33546.pdf

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