Jordan-NATO — ' an enduring partnership that should be even stronger in the future'

NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Javier Colomina
NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Javier Colomina. (Photo: Twitter/X)
"Jordan is one of our most valuable partners" and "our cooperation is indeed extremely important, for several reasons.” 

These were the words of NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Javier Colomina, on an official visit to Jordan.اضافة اعلان

Here partly to co-chair, with the Jordanian Armed Forces-Arab Army, a two-day conference on small arms and light weapons, the NATO official talked to the local media about several issues of concern to the alliance and Jordan, including the possibility of opening a liaison office in Amman.

Jordan, a longstanding partner of the Mediterranean Dialogue — launched in December 1994 with the aim of contributing to regional security and stability — is "a very relevant partner for us within that dialogue", said Colomina, who stressed that the alliance signed the first defense capacity-building package with Jordan in 2014; that was updated in 2017 and again in 2021.

Cooperation happens on different levels, he said, mentioning the practical, military and political aspects.

Jordan has been participating and sending observers to military exercises — "actually the first ever regional exercise that was done within the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue was done by Jordan in 2017" — NATO has worked "with your armed forces in terms of interoperability… and of course you have been contributing to our operations, particularly in Afghanistan", stressed Colomina.

Politically, "we have a very strong dialogue. His Majesty the King has visited us on several occasions, we have organized meetings with the secretary general, with the North Atlantic Council, we have a very fluid relationship with your authorities, and an example of it is actually my visit here".

The visit, he said, is part of NATO's way of finding ways "to increase and promote cooperation".

Jordan's stabilizing role and its "very balanced approach to the many challenges in the region we value very much", he said, stressing that a common priority is terrorism.

"It is one of the two single threats that we have identified. The other one, as you know, is Russia".

"So we have been working with Jordan on that for several years and actually in the last update of the DCB [Defense and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative] package, in 2021, we decided to prioritize the fight against terrorism even over other priorities."

What action does NATO take vis-à-vis the issue?
According to Colomina, the alliance is working on several tracks: training and education, including "learning from the Jordanian Armed Forces, since you have a lot of experience, you have one of the best equipped armed forces in the fight against terrorism"; fighting against small arms and light weapons, hence the conference, "the first ever that we co-host with a Mediterranean Dialogue partner on small arms and light weapons, so it is actually an important political message"; fighting terrorists' misuse of internet and cyber capabilities; working with Jordanian authorities on strategic communication with regard to the fight against terrorism; and working on crisis management regarding terrorism.

"So those would be the five areas where we are working in the fight against terrorism, and specifically related with the last update of the defense capacity building package that was approved in 2021."

In the process of strengthening cooperation "with our most valuable partners", Jordan stands to benefit from the opening of a liaison office in Amman.

The partnership with Jordan, Colomina said, "is already at a point where we need more people on the ground to follow up on that cooperation — and it is very intense — and at the same time, we thought that a political approach to that framework of cooperation was very good".

Which led, in Vilnius, where NATO held its last summit this July, to the alliance exploring the possibility of opening an office in Amman.

"The practical and military cooperation is already being taken care of by people that we have on the ground, that work directly with the HQ of the Jordanian Armed Forces, but we wanted to have a more integrated approach with an office that would be able to do a political follow up to this relationship, together with the military and practical cooperation," said the NATO official.

While "not there yet", such an office would "bring visibility, political will, it will push the relationship to another level because it will be the only office that we will have in the region".

And while it would follow up on the relationship with Jordan, it would also have "a regional perspective", which aligns with the alliance's drive to engage with different actors in the South.

If in Vilnius NATO took the decision "to launch a deep reflection on the challenges and the threats in the South", that "reflection" will "have to be endorsed and approved by the heads of states in the next summit in Washington; we are establishing an independent group of experts to look at this issue, and then with these conclusions we will be producing a set of decisions that will be approved in Washington".

What is the status of the decision regarding the Amman office?
"We are on the right path, but the decision has not been taken yet. I just had a meeting this morning with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and we talked at length about the establishment of the office. I know that there is a strong interest from your authorities, there is, I would say, a strong interest from NATO, but the process of opening an office needs a thorough decision-making process, and we are not yet finalized with it. My expectation is that soon enough we will be able to make a decision, but we are not yet there."

Part of Colomina's visit is also the desire "to explain what NATO is doing today, what are the priorities for NATO and particularly how we look at Russia's aggression against Ukraine, which is for us the utmost priority today: to support Ukraine, and how our partners could contribute to that support".

Aware that NATO's partners have different positions and different foreign policy’s, Colomina still believes that "every partner can contribute with different things, and that is something that I try to discuss with all the authorities of the countries that I visit, but particularly with the ones here in Jordan".

Declaring the Middle East Peace Process and the dangers coming from Syria beyond the remit of the alliance, Colomina said NATO is following up on the developments, and is aware of the "strong concern" Jordan has, particularly regarding the latter, "but we are not part of it".

It is, however, invested in its partnership with Jordan. Hence talk of the liaison office, which "will help us to strengthen cooperation. We are already very, very close, but it will [bring] us definitely closer. And then, it has, with no doubt, a very strong visibility and political message in itself".

The message, he said, would be that "of an enduring partnership, one that we believe should be even stronger in the future".

Read more Opinion and Analysis
Jordan News