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October 21 2021 2:51 PM ˚

The US military’s base relocation to Jordan

Jordan watchers were elated with the positive outcomes of His Majesty King Abdullah’s meetings in Washington this past week, which appear to have reconfirmed Jordan’s special partnership with the Unit
The US decision to relocate bases from the Gulf to Jordan "may be less about US bilateral relations with Jordan, (or even Qatar), and more about evolving US policy considerations," writes Jordan News columnist Nasser Bin Nasser. (Photo: Unsplash)
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Jordan watchers were elated with the positive outcomes of His Majesty King Abdullah’s meetings in Washington this past week, which appear to have reconfirmed Jordan’s special partnership with the United States after a period of perceived letup during the Trump presidency.اضافة اعلان

One of the more interesting developments that occurred in the lead up to the visit was an announcement that the US military would be relocating some of their bases from Qatar to Jordan. While the timing of the announcement appeared to coincide with the Royal visit, these plans have undoubtedly been in the works for some time now, at least since President Biden’s election.

Accordingly, the relocation may be less about US bilateral relations with Jordan, (or even Qatar), and more about evolving US policy considerations. These include a move away from combat operations and a bid to reach a diplomatic solution with Iran.

In a White House meeting held yesterday between President Biden and Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the two sides announced an agreement to end the US combat mission in the country later this year. A similar announcement was made by the White House concerning Afghanistan earlier in the month, with observers suggesting that US troops could depart Afghanistan before September of this year.

The Biden presidency will be credited for these decisions, citing an overuse of the military as a primary policy option. The decisions however, stem from growing recognition amongst US military strategists that these prolonged conflicts are not yielding desired political and security results on the one hand, and are detracting from the ability of the US military to prepare for a possible future confrontation with China on the other.

Shifting the US military’s basing requirements to Jordan effectively formalizes this thinking because the bases would not serve as forward operating bases or staging grounds for future combat operations, but would rather be used to maintain the region’s current military balance.

In a similar vein, President Biden has made no secret of his desire to reach a negotiated settlement with Iran. The end of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the relocation of US bases supports this goal in two ways.

Firstly, removing forces from Qatar and other countries neighboring Iran can be seen as a de-escalatory step and confidence building measure. Secondly, it diminishes Iran’s ability to target US bases nearby, thereby denying Iran leverage in the negotiations. Jointly, these actions would appear to improve the United States’ negotiating position with Iran and increase the likelihood that both sides can reach a binding deal.

The relocation of US bases to Jordan does signal the strength of bilateral relations between the two countries. However, views are undoubtedly mixed amongst Jordanians who have historically been cautious about hosting foreign military bases. In this case, and assuming that the explanations set forth above are valid, the relocation seems more palpable. This would immediately change if the bases are used for large-scale offensive operations against neighboring countries.

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