Jordanian officials deny claims of rift with Riyadh

A view of Amman, Jordan. (Shutterstock image)
Updated 28 May 2019
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Jordanian officials deny claims of rift with Riyadh

  • Academician lashes at some media "making accusations not based on the reality on the ground”
  • “Our relations with all Arab countries, and especially our Gulf brothers, is excellent,” says one former government spokesman

AMMAN:  Jordanian officials have rejected Western media claims of a rift between Jordan and Saudi Arabia over Amman’s attempts to forge new alliances in the face of a growing economic crisis. Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sufian Qudah said the claims failed to reflect Jordan’s foreign policy.

Qudah was responding to a report in the UK daily newspaper The Times which claimed that Jordan’s King Abdullah in recent months had opened talks with Turkey and Qatar, and had made subtle overtures to Iran. The Jordanian ruler was also angered by US President Donald Trump’s aggressive support for Israeli interests, the report claimed.

Foreign relations experts were also quick to dismiss the claims.

Musa Shteiwi, head of Jordan University’s strategic studies center, told Arab News there was “absolutely no change” in Jordanian foreign policy due to the US plans.

“There are some in the media who are on a fishing expedition, swinging in the dark and making accusations not based on the reality on the ground,” he said.

Muhammad Momani, a former Jordan government spokesman, described claims of King Abdullah defying Trump and the Saudis as “surprising.”

“Our relations with all Arab countries, and especially our Gulf brothers, is excellent,” he told Arab News.

Momani, now chairman of the independent Amman daily Al-Ghad, rejected suggestions by the British newspaper that Jordan is moving closer to Iran and Qatar.

“The fact is there is no Jordanian ambassador in Iran and the same applies to Qatar,” he said.

Several analysts pointed out that Jordan had ended its economic treaty with Turkey in November 2018 and was yet to renew the partnership despite pressure from some in the business community.

In its report on Monday, The Times claimed that “King Abdullah has in recent months opened talks with Turkey and Qatar, long-standing rivals of Saudi Arabia. It has even made subtle overtures to Iran, the Gulf state’s main enemy and a country about which the king was issuing dire warnings until recently.”

The newspaper said the Jordanian moves come amid a mounting economic crisis with Riyadh reducing cash subsidies that have kept the country afloat for decades.


Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

Updated 25 June 2019
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Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

  • Fighting new economic plan ‘a strategic mistake,’ White House adviser says
  • Says plan would double Palestinian GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs

MANAMA, Bahrain: Donald Trump wants a fair deal for Palestinians, the US president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on the eve of the launch in Bahrain of the White House’s $50 billion “peace for prosperity” plan.

The Palestinians are missing an opportunity to participate in the Middle East peace process by boycotting the Bahrain conference, Kushner said. “This is a strong package that has been put together. Fighting it instead of embracing it, I think, is a strategic mistake.”

The plan proposes a global investment fund for Palestine and neighboring Arab states, and a $5 billion transport corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian leaders have rejected it, but Kushner said their criticism was “more emotional than specific.”

“Nobody has refuted our core premise that this would do a lot to stimulate the economy,” he said. “The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.”

The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.

Jared Kushner, US president’s adviser

Kushner said Trump decisions such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv were evidence that the president kept his promises.

“The Palestinians might not have liked his Jerusalem decision, but he made a promise and he did it,” he said. What the president wanted now was “to give the Palestinian people a fair solution.”

Kushner said the plan would double the GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs, reduce poverty by 50 percent and bring unemployment to below 10 percent.

“We believe this doable,” he said. “It’s hard, but if there’s a peace agreement and we set up the right structure, we think it could really lead to improving people’s lives in a substantial way.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm in the West Bank and Gaza to see if we can find a political solution so that this can be implemented.”

The political element of the White House plan has been delayed by uncertainty in Israel, where there will be elections this year after an earlier vote failed to produce a stable coalition, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also face a criminal trial for corruption.