Saudi crown prince visits in Jordan for first time in five years

Saudi crown prince visits in Jordan for first time in five years
3 min read
Jordan - Amman
21 June, 2022
Saudi Arabia and Jordan have had an icy relationship since MbS came to power.
Jordan is deeply interested in a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia, a historical financial backer of the country. [Getty]

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman (MbS) is set to land in Amman on Tuesday in the monarch's first visit to Jordan in over five years.

The visit to Jordan is the second stop along the Saudi monarch's regional tour, in which he will stop in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.

Analysts have said that MbS's visit to Amman should be interpreted as a mild thaw in what has been a cold relationship between the Crown Prince and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

"There is a re-evaluation of Saudi foreign policy, Jordan is part of this. The Saudis think that maybe they can resume ties with Jordan ... that good ties with Jordan are better than discord," Oraib al-Rantawi, the founder of the Amman-based al-Quds Center for Political Studies, told The New Arab.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a close relationship in the last few decades, as the two hereditary monarchies cooperated on security issues and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Live Story

Riyadh, along with other Arab Gulf countries, has been a huge financial backer of Amman, in the form of financial aid and remittances from Jordanians working in Saudi Arabia.

However, the relationship has grown strained since MbS became the crown prince in 2015.

To the Saudis, Jordan appears not to have fully backed Saudi regional initiatives, such as the war in Yemen and the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

To the Jordanians, strong evidence of Saudi support for Bassem Awadallah, who along with Jordan's Prince Hamzah, allegedly attempted to stage a coup in April 2020, has caused anger.

MbS's backing of the so-called 'Deal of the Century' during the Trump administration also sidelined Jordan, which traditionally was the mediator between the Israelis and the rest of the Arab world.

A wave of normalisation between Arab countries and Israel, kicked off by the UAE and Bahrain with the Abraham Accords in 2020, further diminished Jordan's regional role.

Live Story

"Jordan is not maintaining the same strategic position they used to have from the Saudi perspective. Before, the Saudis used to be interested in Jordan as a buffer zone between Israel and the oil. No one is interested in a buffer zone now, they are building bridges with Israel," al-Rantawi said.

He said that improving quality of Saudi labour and its own security services has also reduced its interests in Jordan, which used to assist the Gulf country with its labour and security services.

Jordan, for its part, still maintains strong interests in a relationship with Saudi. Its economic situation has grown dire since the COVID-19 pandemic, with just under a quarter of its work force unemployed.

"There is a deep interest in Jordan to consolidate ties with Saudi and to restore business as usual, especially when Jordan is suffering from an unprecedented economic and financial crisis," al-Rantawi said.

MbS's regional tour comes a few weeks before US President Joe Biden is slated to visit Saudi Arabia. This will be the first time Biden visits the kingdom, after high oil prices caused the president to arrange a visit to the country he called a "pariah" during his campaign.