Jordanian officials deny claims of rift with Riyadh

A view of Amman, Jordan. (Shutterstock image)
Updated 28 May 2019

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.


Lebanon tribunal charges Hariri suspect over three other attacks

Updated 22 min 13 sec ago

Lebanon tribunal charges Hariri suspect over three other attacks

  • Ayyash faced five new charges relating to the killings of three men in 2004 and 2005

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Monday unsealed an indictment on new charges against Salim Jamil Ayyash, currently a fugitive from the court and on trial in absentia.
The court said in a statement that Ayyash faced five new charges relating to the killings of three men in 2004 and 2005.
The tribunal in The Hague was established in 2009 to prosecute crimes related to the Feb. 14 2005 bombing that killed 22 people, including Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri, and injured many others.
Ayyash, whose whereabouts are unknown, is being defended on charges of "conspiracy to commit terrorism" in the Hariri case by a publicly appointed defence lawyer. Prosecutors say Ayyash is a Hezbollah commander who led coordination of Hariri's assassination.
The court said on Monday that Ayyash would be presumed innocent of the new charges, but that there is enough evidence against him to merit a trial. The court sent new warrants for his arrest to the Lebanese government and international police organisations.