WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration is proposing a 21% cut in US economic aid to Jordan, according to an internal State Department memo obtained by Foreign Policy. After Amman signed its 1994 peace agreement with Israel, Washington assistance to the Hashemite Kingdom dramatically increased and in 2016 reached $1.6 Billion — both military and economic aid.
However, Republican and Democratic Members of Congress starkly opposed cuts to Jordan. Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX) told Jewish Insider on Wednesday, “I think we need to take an overall look at foreign aid but as far as allies in the Middle East go, once you get beyond Israel, Jordan has been a major player in keeping the region stable. There are places I would look to cut foreign aid before I look to Jordan.”
At AIPAC’s March Policy Conference, an entire session was devoted to critiquing proposed Trump administration’s reductions in foreign assistance across the Middle East. The Hashemite Kingdom was specifically singled out given the country’s friendly ties with Israel along with its absorption of 1.4 million Syrian refugees, according to Jordanian government figures.
When asked if he supports such cuts, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) quickly answered “No. Jordan is an ally. She sustained tremendous economic burden by taking in a lot of Syrian refugees. Anything that would potentially destabilize the Hashemite Monarchy would only strengthen ISIS and every force we don’t like in the Middle East. A budget cut to Jordan seems very short sighted.”
King Abdullah has already met with President Trump twice in Washington during the first months of the new administration. The US leader praised Jordan’s monarch for remaining a steadfast American ally despite the challenging regional dynamics.
Interestingly, the State Department budgetary memo includes a slight increase in aid to the Palestinians, despite calls by some lawmakers including Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to completely end aid to the Palestinians due to payments Ramallah provides to families of terrorists.
“The situation in Jordan is dire. There are a lot of Syrian refugees who came into the country. My concern is if we do not provide the aid to assist these countries in the region, including Jordan, to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis: that is going to put more burden on the system where the Syrian refugees continue to flow into Europe or want to come into the US,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), who also noted that he recently visited Jordan as part of an official Congressional delegation. “At this point, I want to see funding continue to help them deal with the problem that they have got with the Syrian refugee crisis.”