US signs over $10 billion in aid in historic assistance package to Jordan

US signs over $10 billion in aid in historic assistance package to Jordan
The annual aid package is more than double what the US provided to Jordan in 2014.
3 min read
20 September, 2022
US aid to Jordan has steadily increased, despite what human rights monitors describe as a steady erosion of rights in Jordan. [Getty]

Jordan and the US signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Friday containing the largest aid package to the Hashemite Kingdom in its history.

The US pledged over US$10 billion in foreign aid to Jordan, to be disbursed over the next seven years. This is an annual increase of US$175 million from the year prior, and more than double what the US was giving in economic assistance to the country nearly a decade earlier in 2014.

The amount of foreign aid the US provides Jordan has steadily grown in the last decade, even during the Trump administration, when relations between the two countries were at a historic low.

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"The MoU represents a major commitment to Jordan's stability and the durability of the strategic partnership," a joint statement published after the signing of the memorandum read.

Jordan is the third largest recipient of US foreign aid, after Afghanistan and Israel. Much of the foreign assistance focuses on economic development and funding relief programs for the over a million refugees Jordan hosts.

Jordan's economy has taken a hit since the COVID-19 pandemic, with unemployment levels reaching a quarter of the labour force.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a press conference on Friday that the aid package will focus on "reforms like improving essential public services; tackling the water crisis … [and] expanding economic opportunities in Jordan."

The assistance package will give at least US$350 million towards development projects implemented through USAID and US$400 million in aid to the Jordanian military.

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Jordan is one of the closest security partners of the US in the region and the two countries often collaborate, such as on the mission to combat the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

The US maintains the Muwaffaq al-Salti air base in the country's northeast from where it conducts aerial missions in Syria.

An agreement last year allowing US service members to carry weapons throughout Jordan attracted considerable controversy from Jordanian opposition, who said the deal was a violation of Jordanian sovereignty.

The US also relies on Jordan to absorb potential drivers of regional instability and has helped the country host around 1.3 million Syrian refugees.

The US has historically relied on Jordan as a mediator between the Arab world and Israel, though the country's importance as a negotiator has declined since a number of Gulf countries normalised relations with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords.

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US assistance to Amman has increased even as Jordan has declined on various democracy indexes. On Sunday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that authorities have intensified persecution and harassment of political opponents and ordinary citizens over the last four years.

"There is an urgent need to address the downward spiral on rights we are seeing in Jordan today," Lama Fakih, the Middle East director at HRW said.

In late 2021, the Jordanian government appointed a committee to "modernise" the country's political system and move the monarchy more towards a democracy. However, critics of the government said that the final implementation of the committee's recommendations fell short of real reforms.