US vice president given lukewarm welcome in Amman

King Abdallah of Jordan and Queen Rania hold talks with US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence in Amman on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 21 January 2018
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US vice president given lukewarm welcome in Amman

AMMAN: US Vice President Mike Pence received a lukewarm welcome in the Jordanian capital despite the strong relationship between Amman and Washington.
Pence’s visit, which was supposed to take place after US President Donald Trump had declared US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, had been postponed twice. It was reduced to a meeting with King Abdullah II and no other announced official or unofficial meeting.
The US vice president was received by the governor and mayor of Amman.
Earlier talk about Pence wanting to address the issues of Christians in the Middle East appears to have been scrapped after the Palestinian president and regional Christian leaders announced that they will boycott the visiting American official.
In their meeting, the US vice president praised Jordanian-US relations. “We are here as partners for security. We are here as partners for both our nations’ prosperity. We are here as friends,” Pence said in the meeting at Al-Husseiniya Palace, according to an official statement from the Jordanian Royal Court.
King Abdullah reiterated the known Jordanian principles, especially those “continuously voiced over the past year.”
The King reflected his concerns that the US decision on Jerusalem was not the result of a comprehensive settlement to the Palestine-Israel conflict: “Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews. It is key to peace in the region. And key to enabling Muslims to effectively fight some of the root causes of radicalization.”
US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt also added his praise to relations with Jordan. “It was a privilege to join an important bilateral meeting between @VP and @KingAbdullahII of Jordan. Jordan is a key ally — an excellent partner for America!” Greenblatt said on his Twitter account.
Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian political analyst, told Arab News that the shortened visit reflects a kind of stalemate between both sides: “It is clear that in their public positions neither Jordan or the US will deviate from the known positions on the peace process and Jerusalem.”
Kamhawi, however, said he worries that what happens behind closed doors could spell retraction. “The amount of pressure that will be placed on Jordan might be too difficult for this small country to bear.”
There were protests on Saturday night when Pence arrived in Amman by left-wing and pan-Arab movements who joined the daily evening demonstrations across the street from the US embassy in Amman.
Protests have taken place every evening since the Dec. 6 Jerusalem announcement by Trump.
Abla Abu Elba, head of the left-wing Jordanian People’s Party, told demonstrators that Jordanians oppose a visit that aims to cement the latest US positions: “I hope that the official position will stay steady because any retraction will mean that the country will suffer a lot from the American decision regarding Jerusalem.”
The Islamic Action Front in Jordan also joined those opposing the visit after a meeting of its executive committee. It said: “The US decision on Jerusalem reflects an act of international political bullying. The US is a partner in the crimes of the occupiers against the Palestinian people and it conspires against Jordan and its sovereignty and role as guardian of the holy places in Jerusalem.”


US-led coalition member killed in Iraq aircraft crash

US soldiers take position on top of Police Building during a training session by U.S. army at al-Karama police headquarter in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad June 16, 2009. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 min 39 sec ago
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US-led coalition member killed in Iraq aircraft crash

  • The political uncertainty over the make-up of the new government has raised tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over poor basic services
  • The US leads an international coalition that has targeted Daesh and other terrorists in Iraq and neighboring Syria since 2014

BAGHDAD: The US-led anti-Daesh coalition said on Monday one of its members was killed in an apparently accidental aircraft crash in Iraq which left several others wounded.
A statement said “there are no indications the crash was caused by hostile fire,” adding that an investigation is underway.
“One coalition service member was killed and several injured when their aircraft crashed” in Iraq at around 2200 GMT on Sunday, the statement said.
It did not give the location of the crash or identify any of the casualties but said that three coalition members were “evacuated for further treatment,” suggesting they were in serious condition.
The crash happened as the aircraft “was conducting a partnered counterterrorism mission,” the statement said.
“The deceased service member’s name and further details pertaining to the incident will be released by the pertinent national authorities,” it added.
The US leads an international coalition that has targeted Daesh and other terrorists in Iraq and neighboring Syria since 2014.
The coalition includes Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey along with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, the Netherlands and the UAE.
In March, seven US troops were killed when their helicopter crashed during a transport mission in western Iraq, near the border with Syria.
Later that month two coalition members — an American and a Briton — were killed by an improvized explosive device in the northern Syrian city of Manbij.
In another development, Iraq’s Supreme Court has ratified the results of the May 12 parliamentary election, setting in motion a 90-day constitutional deadline for the winning parties to form a government.
Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s government, now serving in a caretaker capacity, welcomed the court’s announcement.
Parliament in June ordered a nationwide manual recount of the results, which were tallied electronically, after a government report said there were widespread violations and blamed the electoral commission.
Yet the recount showed little had changed from the initial results as Moqtada Al-Sadr retained his lead, positioning him to play a central role in forming the country’s next government.
“The Federal Supreme Court issued on the afternoon of Aug. 19, 2018, its decision to ratify the names received,” its spokesman Iyas Al-Samouk said in a statement.
The ratification makes the results formal and lawmakers now have to gather and elect a speaker, then president and finally a prime minister and cabinet within 90 days.
The political uncertainty over the make-up of the new government has raised tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over poor basic services, unemployment and the slow pace of rebuilding after a three-year war with Daesh.