Congressional report outlines areas of US aid to Jordan

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AMMAN — The US Congressional Research Service issued a report on April 14 on US-Jordanian relations as Congress prepared to approve the White House budget request of $1.45 billion for the Kingdom for 2023. The report, which is prepared for members and committees of Congress, states that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a key US partner in the Middle East, and the two countries have cooperated on a number of regional and international issues. اضافة اعلان

Jordan remains at peace with Israel and is a primary interlocutor with the Palestinians, the report said. Ongoing instability in neighboring Syria and Iraq magnifies Jordan’s strategic importance to the US. Jordan also is a longtime US partner in global counterterrorism operations. US-Jordanian military, intelligence, and diplomatic cooperation seeks to empower political moderates, reduce sectarian conflict, and eliminate terrorist threats, it added.

US officials frequently express their support for Jordan, the reports stated, adding that US assistance has helped Jordan address serious vulnerabilities, both internal and external. Jordan’s small size, refugee burden, and lack of major economic resources have made it dependent on aid from Western and various Arab sources. The Biden Administration has acknowledged Jordan’s role as a key US partner in promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, as many US policymakers advocate for continued robust US assistance to the Kingdom.

The report went on to say that Jordan also hosts over 3,000 US troops. Annual US aid to Jordan has nearly quadrupled in historical terms over the last 15 years. The US has provided economic and military aid to Jordan since 1951 and 1957, respectively. Total bilateral US aid (overseen by the departments of state and defense) to Jordan through the fiscal year (FY) of 2019 amounted to approximately $23.8 billion. “The president’s FY2023 budget request includes $1.45 billion for Jordan. The current five-year US-Jordanian memorandum of understanding on assistance expires at the end of FY2022, and the two countries are negotiating a new agreement,” the reports asserted.

It added that to date, the impact of COVID-19 on Jordan has been significant in terms of human and economic costs. As of early April 2022, Jordan has had over 1.6 million cases and over 14,000 deaths according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Real GDP contracted by 1.5 percent in 2020 and grew by 2 percent in 2021. Losses in government revenue caused by fewer remittances and a weakened market for tourism are expected to widen the budget deficit in the years ahead.

The reports pointed out that in the 117th Congress, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, provides $1.65 billion in total bilateral foreign assistance to Jordan. This includes over $1.2 billion in economic support funds, of which $845 million is specified as a direct cash transfer to the Jordanian government. The act also provides $425 million in foreign military financing. Since the current memo on assistance between the US and Jordan commits the US to provide “no less than $1.275 billion per year in US bilateral foreign assistance,” Congress has appropriated nearly $400 million for Jordan above and beyond what was agreed upon in the MOU for FY2022.

The act “supports critical economic assistance needed this fiscal year to help ensure Jordan’s ongoing stability, including to strengthen Jordan’s borders and to help mitigate the impact of hosting millions of refugees,” the reports says. They also direct the secretary of state to “continue to support the government of Jordan’s efforts to implement economic and democratic reforms” and to “consult with the committees on appropriations on prospective policy proposals aimed at assisting Jordan achieve additional and long-lasting reforms, including in its water and public sectors.” Beyond assistance from the state and foreign operations appropriations accounts, the act also provides Jordan with security assistance from US Defense Department appropriations accounts. The act specifies that Jordan receive “not less than” $150 million from the Defense Department’s Operation and maintenance, defense-wide account for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency to reimburse Jordan for border security. The act also includes authority for loan guarantees for Jordan, the report said.

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