Gulf states must pay 'protection money', demands Jordan MP

Gulf states must pay 'protection money', demands Jordan MP
Analysis: The Jordanian budget debate is focused on the burden of supporting Syrian refugees, with MPs demanding international support for the security provided by the kingdom's armed forces.
2 min read
25 February, 2015
MPs were concerned at the economic burden of Syrian refugees and security concerns [Khalil Mizrawi]

Gulf states should pay money to Jordan for the protection granted by its armed forces, MP Hazem Qashou told a parliamentary debate over the country's 2015 budget.

Such a "payment" would be a small price for the service Jordan has provided, said Qashou on Wednesday.

The debate over the $11.42 billion plan started on Sunday, with MPs generally agreed that Jordan should be compensated for its counter-terrorism efforts and the burden of supporting a large population of Syrian refugees.

However, MPs disagreed over who should compensate Jordan for its efforts - the Gulf states or the international community at large.

Syria warns Jordan of interference in war against IS. Read more.

Other MPs, including Mostafa al-Rawashda, used more diplomatic language, and asked Gulf states to support Jordan out of solidarity and as a practical expression of the deep relationship between Jordan and the Gulf.

The proposed budget will have an estimated deficit of $1.55 billion.

According to MPs, there are almost 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Jordan. A number of parliamentarians, among them Moussa Suweilam, blamed the refugees for the deterioration in Jordan's economy.

A number of MPs blamed the refugees for the deterioration in Jordan's economy.

Jordan is facing a host of security challenges, and MPs criticised the government for allocating only $1.4 billion to the armed forces after a request from military leaders for $3.5 billion.

To put this into perspective, $1.4bn represents more than 12 percent of Jordan's total planned expenditure for the year. The budget of the armed forces of the United Kingdom, by comparison, is around $59 billion - or eight percent of annual government spending. 

Many MPs were pressing for a rise in the military budget to continue the campaign against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as Isis).

MP Ali al-Sanid pointed to the need to fight the IS group on domestic grounds - by eliminating poverty and unemployment, which are incubators for violent groups.

The discussion is expected to last two further days.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.