US confirms new security pact with Jordan

Jordanian foreign minister defends agreement against criticism that it gives Washington too many privileges

A handout photo of Four Seasons Hotel Amman in Jordan (Courtesy: Four Seasons Hotel Amman) *** Local Caption ***  wk22ja-tr-briefs-amman.jpeg
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The US on Sunday confirmed it had signed a new security pact with Jordan after controversy erupted over operational leeway it allows American troops.

A US embassy spokesperson said a defence co-operation agreement between Jordan and the US came into effect on March 17.

“The agreement reflects our longstanding security partnership,” the spokesperson said.

Hours earlier, several members of Jordan’s Parliament denounced the deal as giving away too many prerogatives to the US.

They demanded a special session of the legislature to discuss the deal, which commits Jordan to provide logistical and other support for the estimated 3,000 US troops in the country.

Parliamentarian Saleh Al Armouti, a member of the opposition Islamic Action Front, said the agreement was “a black day in the history of Jordan”.

Jordan is one the biggest recipients of American aid, but US troops and bases they use in the country are a sensitive subject.

Nationalist sentiment in Jordan runs high and many Jordanian dislike US support for Israel.

Relations between Jordanian authorities and the administration of president Donald Trump cooled after the announcement of his Middle East plan two years ago, although that had little effect on military ties.

Officials in Amman hope for better relations with President Joe Biden, whose administration has yet to spell out its Middle East positions in clear terms.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi told Parliament that the security deal laid “a framework for defence co-operation between the United States and our brave Arab army”.

“We all do not accept any infringement on our sovereignty,” Mr Al Safadi said.

Pro-government media published the text of the agreement on Sunday.

It commits Jordan to allow the US to post troops and hardware in specific bases, and use them for training and transit.

US forces can also operate their own telecommunications networks, and American personnel are exempt from Jordanian taxes.

US troops are in Jordan under a status of forces agreement that governs their scope of operations.

US data shows that since 2014, Washington has given more than $2 billion in assistance to Jordan’s military and almost 6,000 of its soldiers have been trained in the US.