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The King goes to Washington, again

Mar 09,2019 - Last updated at Mar 09,2019

Persuasive engagement with power brokers in Washington is vital to Jordan’s interests, stability and survival. Washington is not the only capital that is important to Jordan, but it is the most important capital. This importance justifies the few visits His Majesty makes every year to engage politicians in Congress and beyond. 

Not a single other country has demonstrated the type of support the United States extended to Jordan over the past 10 years. This week’s visit to Congress is paramount for many reasons. The midterm elections of November last year produced 93 new members to the House of Representatives and nine new senators to Senate. Engaging those newcomers is very important to ensure continued support for Jordan in the next few years. The power of Congress in the American decision-making process cannot be discounted. 

As the first Arab leader to meet congressional members and committees after the midterm elections, the agenda will be expansive and will cover the strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States and the ways to take it forward in light of the existing and emerging challenges to security and stability in the region. Chief among those is the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Jordan’s position has always been of firm and unwavering commitment to this fight and paid its dues in blood and treasure. This commitment will be reaffirmed to old and new members of Congress.  

Jordan’s lobby in Washington is largely dependent on the King’s network and ability to influence the process and its main actors. The King’s effort does not go unchallenged. There are many in Washington, and for different and sometimes contradictory reasons, who would like to see a weaker Jordan in Washington. 

Jordan’s pathway in this environment is charted by its interests and ability to manoeuvre the rough waters of politics on four levels; American internal politics and rivalries, regional competition and its extensions to Washington, Israel’s influence and its impact on the peace process, and finally, the internal dynamics in Jordan.  

As complex as these dynamics are, Jordan has managed so far, with consistent efforts, to have a relatively decent level of influence that can be demonstrated through the continuous flow of aid packages and enhanced military and security cooperation. 

With presence of the Israeli prime minister in Washington at the same time for different motivations and purposes and the intensely-gated ghost negotiations of the “deal of the century”, Jordan’s vigilance ought to be at its highest. Leaks of “the deal” do not reassure Jordan, Palestinians, Arabs and peace-seeking people globally. 

Leaks are indicating an “imposed” take or leave deal. If that comes to be, Jordan’s friends in Washington will have to be prepared and informed of Jordan’s limits. Jordan has a lot of balancing to do between economic hardship, internal political strife, regional political sand dunes and relations with stakeholders in peace in the region. Not every initiative for peace in the Middle East can lead to peace. “The deal” is no exception if it is not properly negotiated and justice is delivered.  

 

The writer is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions [email protected]

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