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Monday, April 15, 2013

Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations

Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

This report provides an overview of Jordanian politics and current issues in U.S.-Jordanian relations. It provides a brief discussion of Jordan’s government and economy and of its cooperation in promoting Arab-Israeli peace and other U.S. policy objectives in the Middle East.

Several issues in U.S.-Jordanian relations are likely to figure in decisions by Congress and the Administration on future aid to and cooperation with Jordan. These include the stability of the Jordanian regime (particularly in light of ongoing political change and/or unrest in several other countries in the region), the role of Jordan in the Arab-Israeli peace process, the civil war in neighboring Syria, and U.S.-Jordanian military and intelligence cooperation.

Although the United States and Jordan have never been linked by a formal treaty, they have cooperated on a number of regional and international issues over the years. The country’s small size and lack of major economic resources have made it dependent on aid from Western and friendly Arab sources. U.S. support, in particular, has helped Jordan address serious vulnerabilities, both internal and external. Jordan’s geographic position, wedged between Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, has made it vulnerable to the strategic designs of its more powerful neighbors, but has also given Jordan an important role as a buffer between these potential adversaries.

The United States has provided economic and military aid, respectively, to Jordan since 1951 and 1957. Total U.S. aid to Jordan through FY2012 amounted to approximately $13.1 billion. Levels of aid have fluctuated, increasing in response to threats faced by Jordan and decreasing during periods of political differences or worldwide curbs on aid funding. On September 22, 2008, the U.S. and Jordanian governments reached an agreement whereby the United States agreed to provide a total of $660 million in annual foreign assistance to Jordan over a five-year period. The President’s FY2013 request includes $360 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF), $300 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and $3.7 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET).

During his visit to Jordan in March 2013, President Obama pledged to work with Congress to deliver an additional $200 million in direct budget support to Jordan to help it cope with the influx of Syrian refugees. P.L. 113-6, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 included a provision authorizing U.S. loan guarantees for Jordan. Section 1706 (j) also appropriated $30 million (from FY2011) for the cost of sovereign loan guarantees, which are expected to enable Jordan to raise several hundred million dollars on the international bond market. Recent U.S. humanitarian aid for Syria ($385 million total) includes funds to be spent inside Jordan on Syrian refugees. To date, $57 million in Syrian humanitarian aid has been spent in Jordan, including $25 million from a recent U.S. pledge of $155 million at a Kuwait Donors’ Conference. Funds spent in Jordan are for supplies and services for refugee camps there. In addition, USAID funding is helping northern Jordanian communities address water shortages as a result of the influx of Syrian refugees by upgrading and repairing water delivery networks and encouraging conservation.

Date of Report: April 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: RL33546
Price: $29.95

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