EU assures Jordan of continued aid ahead of Arab summit in Makkah

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi speaks during a news conference with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini in Amman, Jordan, June 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 June 2018
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EU assures Jordan of continued aid ahead of Arab summit in Makkah

  • Saudi Arabia will hold a meeting in Makkah Sunday, Kuwait, UAE, and Jordan will attend.
  • The EU is to provide 20 million euros ($23.5 million) for social protection programs targeting vulnerable Jordanians.

AMMAN: The European Union’s foreign policy chief assured Jordan of continued financial support Sunday, saying it’s an investment in an ally in the “most heated and difficult area of the world.”
Federica Mogherini’s visit to Jordan came days after the country’s prime minister quit amid widespread protests against a government austerity plan sought by international lenders, including proposed tax increases. The new prime minister says he will scrap the tax plan and devise a new one.
Jordan is increasingly in debt and dependent on foreign aid, at a time of economic downturn and growing unemployment, largely linked to regional crises. Jordan has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in recent years, while trade with troubled neighbors has been disrupted.
Mogherini told a news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Sunday that the European Union has given Jordan 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) over three years, financing a range of programs in infrastructure, water and energy sectors as well as education.
She also announced that the EU would provide 20 million euros ($23.5 million) for social protection programs targeting vulnerable Jordanians.
Mogherini said Jordan can count on Europe.
“We are here not as a gesture of charity, if you allow me the expression, but as an investment,” she said, adding that Jordan is located “in probably the most heated and difficult area of the world.”
“We understand the needs,” she said. “We understand the pressure, the urgency, and so we deliver our support.”
The EU foreign policy chief said it’s up to Jordan to devise its own reform program, but stressed the importance of dealing with tax evasion. The new prime minister, Omar Razzaz, has promised to formulate a new tax plan in consultations with various groups in Jordan.
Later Sunday, Saudi Arabia is to host a meeting among several Gulf Arab countries to offer support to Jordan. The Saudi Royal Court said the meeting in Makkah would include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
In December 2011, the Gulf Cooperation Council pledged to give $2.5 billion in aid each to Jordan and Morocco, both of which had been invited to join the regional group that year.
The pledge from the GCC was to last five years. It expired last year and so far the GCC has yet to offer any additional funding as the bloc remains split by the diplomatic crisis engulfing Qatar.
Safadi said Sunday that Jordan appreciates the Saudi effort and that “we look forward to the results of today’s dialogue.” He did not address the issue of Gulf aid.


Anti-Daesh coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria: monitor

Updated 9 min 32 sec ago
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Anti-Daesh coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria: monitor

BEIRUT: Air strikes by the US-led coalition Saturday killed 43 people, mostly civilians, in a Daesh holdout in eastern Syria, a Britain-based monitor said.
Seventeen children were among 36 Daesh family members killed in Abu Husn village of Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or Daesh fighters, it said.
The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the extremists from the pocket around Abu Husn.
"It's the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the IS pocket" in September, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties.
"The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions," spokesman Sean Ryan told AFP this week.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.
In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor.
The coalition has since 2014 acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.