Posts Tagged ‘Jordan’

Jordan says feeding, housing Syrian refugees has cost $10 billion

October 10, 2017


© AFP/File | Prefabricated metal homes stretch into the distance at the Azraq camp for Syrian refugees in northern Jordan
AMMAN (AFP) – Authorities in Jordan on Tuesday estimated at more than $10 billion the cost of hosting thousands of refugees displaced from neighbouring Syria since the civil war broke out there in 2011.The UN says that some 650,000 Syrian refugees are currently being housed in Jordan, but the government puts the figure far higher at around 1.3 million people.

In a statement released on social media, the foreign ministry said “more than $10.3 billion” (8.7 billion euros) had been spent on putting up the refugees.

That figure covered additional expenses in sectors including health, education and employment, and also extra money spent on public services and subsidised food, it said.

Jordan, which shares a 370 kilometre (230 mile) border with Syria, estimates that almost $1.7 billion will be needed to cover the refugees this year.

The kingdom — which has called for the international community to do more on the crisis — has recently come under fire from Human Rights Watch for allegedly “summarily deporting” Syrian refugees.

The group said that on average some 400 refugees were being removed each month at the start of 2017 in a move that could be aimed at preventing the violence in Syria spilling over onto Jordanian territory after several armed attacks.

Authorities insisted that any return of refugees to Syria was voluntary and that they only headed to areas in the country that are considered safe.

The UN refugee agency says 93 percent of the Syrian refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line. Around 180,000 of them are housed in two sprawling camps in the desert.

Fighting in Syria has claimed more than 330,000 lives since a brutal crackdown by the army on protesters in 2011 spiralled into all-out conflict.

The UN estimates that more than five million Syrians have been driven from the country by fighting, with the majority settling in neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.


Jordan says aid for stranded Syrians must come via Syria

October 8, 2017
© AFP | A Syrian refugee living in the remote Rukban camp in no-man’s-land on the border between Syria and Jordan, shelters in the rain during a visit to a medical clinic in Jordan on March 1, 2017
AMMAN (AFP) – Aid deliveries to thousands of Syrians stranded on their war-torn country’s desert border with Jordan must pass through Syria, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Sunday.

“They are Syrian citizens on Syrian territory. Syria must therefore assume this responsibility and not Jordan,” Safadi said during a meeting with ambassadors from European Union countries.

Aid to them “must pass through Syrian territory”, he said.

Some 45,000 displaced Syrians, mostly women and children, have been stuck for months on the Syrian side of the frontier near the Rukban border crossing.

“Conditions on the ground now make it possible to send aid to the Rukban camp via Syria,” Safadi said.

His comments came as Syrian government forces have made major advances against the Islamic State group, regaining swathes of the country with Russian air support.

Jordan, which shares a 370-kilometre (230-mile) border with Syria, is part of the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.

A suicide bombing claimed by IS in June last year killed seven Jordanian soldiers in no-man’s land near the Rukban crossing.

Soon afterwards, the army declared Jordan’s desert regions that stretch northeast to Syria and east to Iraq “closed military zones”.

United Nations agencies in August expressed “deep concern” for the safety of camp residents.

The UN refugee agency says it has registered more than 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan since the conflict began.

However, Amman says it is hosting 1.3 million Syrian refugees, and has repeatedly called for more assistance to do so.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria and millions displaced since the country’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Motorbike explodes outside Jordan’s military mission in Paris

October 4, 2017


© Jack Guez, AFP | A file photo of the Jordanian embassy in Paris, located a short drive away from the military mission.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-10-04

A motorbike exploded in front of Jordan’s military mission in Paris on Wednesday morning, France’s Interior Ministry has confirmed, adding that the cause of the blast is unclear.

A spokesperson for Jordan‘s Foreign Ministry said no staff at the mission were injured, according to the state-run Petra news agency.

An official at the nearby Jordanian embassy told Reuters he did not believe the blast intentionally targeted the country.

The military mission is located on avenue Foch, in the French capital’s upscale 16th arrondissement.


President Trump Speaks About United Nations Reform at Day One of the General Assembly

September 18, 2017

United States President Donald Trump speaks at an event on UN reform, along with representatives from Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

President Trump, Ambassador Haley take part in United Nations reform meeting

Donald Trump

Donald Trump


President Donald Trump is making his debut at the United Nations


WASHINGTON — President Trump heads to the United Nations this week to meet with world leaders, and many of them are anxious — not just about global national security challenges, but about Trump himself.

While the still-new president hopes to use his first appearance before the U.N. General Assembly to rally other countries against North Korea’s nuclear threats, some world leaders are still reeling from their last interactions with the somewhat testy Trump at global summits earlier this year.

Administration officials said Trump will arrive in New York with multiple missions, including trying to convince other countries to help the U.S. pressure North Korea into giving up nuclear weapons. He plans to criticize the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran and address the economic meltdown in Venezuela and the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Read more:

Trump mocks Kim Jong Un and Hillary Clinton in Sunday tweetstorm

Ahead of U.N. meetings, Trump aides call for more pressure on North Korea

Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, puts it simply: The president “slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the U.S. being very strong in the end.”

Trump will also pursue what his aides call “U.N, reform,” another way of calling on members to pay for United Nations projects.

U.N. members, meanwhile, will be be watching the president’s tone, some foreign policy analysts said, given Trump’s aggressive performances at this year’s NATO meeting, Group of Seven and Group of 20 summits.

There, Trump “came off as boorish and money-grubbing, and often unresponsive to the concerns of partner nations,” said Stewart Patrick, senior fellow with the Council of Foreign Relations.

“At the U.N,” Patrick said, “Trump can win by surpassing expectations about what he is going to say.”

Richard Gowan, a United Nations expert with with the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Trump “performed poorly” at previous international meetings, and diplomats are concerned about a rerun.

“The swirl of minor leaders and frazzled diplomats around U.N. headquarters can be quite disconcerting, even for relatively calm leaders,” Gowan said. “Trump may become irritable.”

The U.N. activity comes in the shadow of Trump’s previous international meetings, and the flaps that ensued, including:

• The Article 5 affair: At his first global summit, a May meeting of NATO members in Brussels, Trump annoyed some allies by declining to specifically endorse the organization’s mutual defense commitment, known as Article 5. The tepid remarks on the treaty prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to suggest that Europe could no longer count on the United States for defense — even as Trump called for them to spend more money on their own defense. Only after returning to Washington did Trump reaffirm the alliance’s commitment to treat an attack on one ally as an attack on all.

• The shove seen ’round the world: Also at NATO, Trump set the social media world ablaze when he appeared to shove Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way in a team photo op. Markovic said that incident was “inoffensive” and no big deal, noting that Trump was assigned to be at the front of the picture anyway.

• The Sicilian golf cart: Tensions followed Trump from Brussels to the Italian island of Sicily, where Trump clashed with leaders of the Group of Seven nations over trade and climate change policy. The body language between Trump and other leaders also drew stares; at one point other G-7 members took a walking tour of the ancient mountain village of Taormina; Trump followed behind in a golf cart.

• The Putin parlay: Delegates to the Group of 20 nations summit in Hamburg, Germany, looked on wide-eyed as Trump spent hours talking with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A formal meeting set for 30 minutes ran for more than two hours and the pair also spoke at length at a G-20 dinner. All this came as a U.S. special counsel is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with Trump associates.

But Trump’s aides say the president was pleased with his earlier summit meetings. Trump is proud of commitments by NATO members to spend more on their national defense, as one example. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump has developed good relations with world leaders “so they can focus on big problems like North Korea.”

Yet Trump’s behavior at the U.N. will be highly scrutinized, especially given how he has also criticized the body over the past year.

During the presidential transition in December, the recently elected Trump criticized a U.N. vote condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In a tweet, Trump said the world body has become “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”

In another post, he said, “as to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” but did not elaborate.

Some potential flash points may be avoided, at least this time.

At least two key world leaders won’t be at the U.N. this year: China’s President Xi Jinping, whom Trump is lobbying especially hard to pressure North Korea, and Putin, who is also involved in disputes over North Korea and Syria, whose relationship with Trump is especially controversial.

Merkel, who has clashed with Trump over trade and refugee policy, is also not expected to attend, as she is locked in a re-election campaign.

Trump’s trip to New York City opens Monday when he and more than 120 world leaders attend a meeting on United Nations reform.

After that, Trump meets separately with French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of their topics: Iran and the nuclear agreement reached by President Obama and U.S. allies in 2015.

The Trump administration has re-certified the Iran agreement, but Trump himself continues to claim that Tehran is violating “the spirit” of the agreement in which the Iranians give up the means to make nuclear weapons in exchange for reduction of sanctions by the U.S. and its allies.

On Monday evening, Trump will host a working dinner with Latin American leaders, with Venezuela’s problems as the main topic. As the chaos in Venezuela, including a government crackdown on civil liberties, threatens to spill over into neighboring countries, Trump has even spoken of “a military option.”

The president’s major speech to the general assembly comes Tuesday morning.

Over the course of U.N. week, Trump will also host a diplomatic reception have lunches with African leaders and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He also has roster of bilateral meetings with leaders of Slovakia, Qatar, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan and Ukraine. He is also expected to meet with the president of South Korea.

Trump and aides said he represents an “America First” foreign policy, claiming that other countries have taken advantage of the United States with bad trade deals and agreements that force Americans a disproportionate share of the costs.

Other countries have accused Trump of abandoning U.S. leadership. The president’s trip to the U.S. could present what Patrick, from the Council on Foreign Relations, called “a juxtaposition of America First with folks who are dedicated to international cooperation.”

Richard Fontaine, president of the Washington-based Center For a New American Security think tank, said the United Nations is a “world forum,” and other members are asking “what kind of picture is the president going to paint on what he wants to see the United States do in that world forum?”

One big thing other countries want to know, Fontaine said, is: “How much does he value allies?”

Gowan, who teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, also noted that the president is notoriously difficult to predict.

“To be honest,” he said, “nobody is really sure what Trump is going to do at the U.N.”

Emails Indicated Saudi Plan To Attack Qatar — To “solve everyone’s problems”

September 17, 2017
Image of the UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba [File photo]

Image of the UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba [File photo]

Saudi Arabia was preparing for a military attack on its neighbour Qatar, leaked emails dated May 2017 appear to show.

The emails between UAE Ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, and US diplomat Elliott Abrams in May 2017 claim that Saudi came close to “conquering” Qatar and this would “solve everyone’s problems”, according to the Emirati official.

Al-Otaiba added that deceased Saudi monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz “came pretty close to doing something in Qatar” a few months before his death in January 2015.

Abrams was surprised by the revelation, the emails show, declaring: “I did not know that. It is dramatic.”

“How hard could it be?” he asked, adding:

Foreigners won’t interfere … Promise the Indians a raise, promise the police a raise and who is going to fight to the death?

Al-Otaiba replied: “That was the conclusion. It would be an easy lift.”

Khalil Al-Anani: The shifts in the Gulf crisis

Alleged leaked emails between UAE Ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, and US diplomat Elliott Abrams from May 2017, suggesting Saudi Arabia was preparing for a military attack on its neighbour Qatar.

Abrams went on to say that former US President Barack Obama would not have supported an attack on Qatar “but the new guy…” in reference to current American Presisdent Donald Trump.

In the emails, Abrams suggested Jordan control Qatar. “The Hashemites need to control Qatar … that would solve their financial problems and Qatar’s support of extremism.” as he put it.

It is noteworthy that Abrams served as deputy assistant to US President George W. Bush and as his deputy national security adviser.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups in the region.

The four countries also imposed an embargo on Qatar and issued a long list of demands, including the closure of Doha-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera, under the threat of further sanctions.

Qatar has refused to submit, denying charges that it supports terrorism and describing the bloc’s efforts to isolate it as a violation of international law and an infringement of its national sovereignty.

A spokesperson at the UAE embassy in the US told Middle East Eye that she was “not in a position to confirm or deny” the emails were genuine.

Jordan Launches Project to Grow Crops From Seawater — Desalinated seawater irrigates crops

September 7, 2017

AQABA, Jordan — Water-poor Jordan has launched a project using seawater to produce crops with clean energy.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, which contributed most of the $3.7 million cost, inaugurated the facility Thursday in the kingdom’s Red Sea port city of Aqaba.

Image result for King Abdullah II, photos

King Abdullah II

Haakon told reporters he was “impressed by the way innovative ideas have been translated into a plant the size of four football fields.”

The facility, surrounded by rocky desert, uses seawater to cool greenhouses. Desalinated seawater irrigates crops, such as pesticide-free cucumbers. A small desalination station is irrigated by solar energy.

Last month, a report by Stanford University suggested that Jordan, one of the world’s driest countries, could face more severe droughts unless new technologies are applied in farming and other sectors.

Image result for Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, photos

Crown Prince Haakon of Norway

Obama’s Mideast legacy: Iran’s puppets all around Israel with war on the way

August 31, 2017

By Jonathan S. Tobin

Image may contain: one or more people, crowd and outdoor

There are some mistakes for which the world never seems to stop paying.

When the United States chose to let Syria slide into chaos while simultaneously seeking to end the isolation of Iran with a nuclear deal, President Barack Obama thought he was avoiding trouble and giving Iran a chance to “get right with the world.”

But it turns out those blunders are still paying dividends for Iran, creating new dangers in the Middle East and threatening the hopes of the Trump administration. That was made clear this week when Yehya al-Sinwar, the leader of Hamas, announced in Gaza that the terror group had reconciled with Iran.

Prior to the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Iran was Hamas’ main source of money and weapons and helped the terror group transform Gaza into a fortress bristling with rockets and missiles that rained terror on Israeli towns and cities.

Though Obama repeatedly called for Bashar al-Assad’s ouster, he did nothing to aid those trying to make it a reality, especially when a little help would have gone a long way. He ultimately stood by as Russia and Iran intervened to save Assad.

By backing down on his “red line” warning on the use of chemical weapons and then punting responsibility for that issue to Russia (which allowed Assad to continue using them), Obama also ensured that Syria would become a land bridge between Tehran and its Hezbollah auxiliaries in Lebanon.

Obama thought intervention would have been an obstacle to his hopes for a rapprochement with Tehran. Nor did he let Iran’s refusal to give up its nuclear program stop his push for a deal that vastly enriched the regime while only delaying its quest for a nuclear weapon.

The result: Iran is stronger and bolder than ever and building weapons factories in Lebanon and Syria. By reconciling with Hamas, it has the capacity to create what might be a three-front war against the Jewish state whenever it chooses to heat up the conflict. With Iran behind it, Hamas, which has already re-armed and re-fortified Gaza since its 2014 war with Israel, is not only better able to re-start hostilities but also now more of a threat to its Fatah rivals in the West Bank.

What does that mean for the United States?

The administration continues to believe that the shared fears of Iran that caused Arab states like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to make common cause with Israel will enable them to pressure the Palestinians to make peace. But as the Temple Mount crisis proved this summer, it’s the Palestinians who have the ability to push them away from the Israelis.As we saw last week when his adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner visited the region, President Trump still harbors hopes of brokering the “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians that eluded his predecessors.

And with Hamas back in its pocket, Iran has the ability to veto peace with the Jewish state they still vow to eliminate.

What can Trump do? The options are limited but he must begin by realizing that sticking to Obama’s decision to let the Russians and Iranians have Syria is a mistake. The same applies to listening to those who have so far persuaded him not to start the process of rolling back the nuclear deal.

Trump will probably never get the Middle East peace deal he wants. But doubling down on Obama’s mistakes will only increase the risks of more Middle Eastern wars that he wishes to avoid.

The Iran-Hamas reunion is a warning that policies that strengthen Russia and its Iranian allies are blunders Israel and the West will keep paying for in blood and treasure.

Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of and a contributing writer for National Review.



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Fatemeh Bahrami | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A Iranian woman walks past a wall painting in the shape of Iranian flag in Tehran, Iran on the first anniversary of nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on January 16, 2017.

Image result for Iran, missiles, underground, photos

Iran has boasted about its ballistic missiles, many of which are on mobile launchers

Image result for Iran, missiles, underground, photos

© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP/File / by Ali Choukeir | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on July 30, 2017 shows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) receiving prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Jeddah

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Palestinians vie with Israel over Muslim pilgrims to Jerusalem — Part of Holy Land’s religious tourism

August 31, 2017

By Ali Sawafta and Dan Williams

Pentagon chief in Baghdad as Iraqi forces press Tal Afar assault

August 22, 2017


© AFP | The Iraqi government announced the beginning of a military operation to retake Tal Afar from Islamic State group jihadists on August 20, 2017

BAGHDAD (AFP) – US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday as Iraqi forces pressed an assault on Tal Afar, the Islamic State group’s last major bastion in the country’s north.Mattis flew in for talks with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other top officials, as well as Massud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, saying he wants to help keep the regime focused on eradicating IS jihadists.

“Right now our focus is on defeating ISIS inside Iraq, restoring Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mattis told journalists ahead of his trip to Baghdad, using an alternative acronym for IS.

Iraqi troops, supported by the forces of a US-led international coalition, routed IS fighters in Mosul in July following a gruelling nine-month fight.

On Sunday they launched an assault on Tal Afar, once a key IS supply hub between Mosul — around 70 kilometres (45 miles) further east — and the Syrian border.

In the desert plains around Tal Afar, convoys of tanks and armoured vehicles could be seen heading Monday for the jihadist-held city, raising huge clouds of dust.

Mattis would not make any predictions on the fight.

“ISIS’s days are certainly numbered, but it’s not over yet and it’s not going to be over anytime soon,” he said.


Mattis in Baghdad as Iraq presses assault on IS bastion

August 22, 2017


© AFP / by Paul Handley with Ahmad al-Rubaye at Tal Afar Airbase | Map showing Tal Afar in Iraq where Iraqi forces began pounding IS positions on Sunday.

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Pentagon chief Jim Mattis was in Baghdad Tuesday to show US support for Iraqi forces as they pressed an assault on Tal Afar, the Islamic State group’s last major bastion in the country’s north.Mattis flew in for talks with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other top officials, as well as Massud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, saying he wants to help keep the regime focused on eradicating IS jihadists.

PHOTO: U.S. Sec. of Defense Jim Mattis, center, is greeted by U.S. Ambassador Douglas Silliman as he arrives at Baghdad International Airport on an unannounced trip Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. Lolita Baldor/AP Photo FILE PHOTO


“Right now our focus is on defeating ISIS inside Iraq, restoring Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mattis told journalists ahead of his trip to Baghdad, using an alternative acronym for IS.

Iraqi troops, supported by the forces of a US-led international coalition, routed IS in Mosul in July after a gruelling nine-month fight for Iraq’s second city.

On Sunday they launched an assault on Tal Afar, once a key IS supply hub between Mosul — around 70 kilometres (45 miles) to the east — and the Syrian border.

In the desert plains around Tal Afar, convoys of tanks and armoured vehicles could be seen heading Monday for the jihadist-held city, raising huge clouds of dust.

Mattis would not make any predictions on the fight.

“ISIS’s days are certainly numbered, but it’s not over yet and it’s not going to be over anytime soon,” said the US defence secretary.

Iraqi forces “fought like the dickens in Mosul, (it) cost them over 6,000 wounded, somewhere over 1,200 killed,” he noted.

Yet that comeback restored the confidence of the Iraqi security forces after their shock loss of Mosul to Islamic State group in 2014.

Mattis stressed that retaking Mosul would not have happened “without… Abadi’s steady hand reconstituting that army, that was so shattered in 2014, an army he inherited.”

But the comeback also leaned crucially on extensive training, planning and firepower support from the US military.

The future of that support still must be settled, and there will be resistance from Shiite militia and Iranians, said Nicholas Heras, Middle East Security Fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

– Kurdistan referendum challenge –

Mattis said discussions will focus on the way ahead, including how to keep Iraq from again politically fragmenting or falling further under Iran’s influence, after four years united around battling the jihadists.

“Secretary Mattis is going to be very much focused on a pathway for the United States to continue to have to a residual force in Iraq to continue to train Iraqi security forces” and avoiding a successor from IS rising up, said Heras.

A key issue is Iraqi Kurdistan’s plan for an independence referendum on September 25, strongly opposed by the US as an event that could undermine Abadi politically and distract from the fight against IS.

“A referendum at this time would be potentially catastrophic to the counter-ISIS campaign,” said Brett McGurk, the White House envoy to the anti-IS coalition.

“It’s not just the United States; every member of our coalition believes that now is not the time to hold this referendum.”

McGurk said the initial push on the outskirts of Tal Afar was “going well”, with 235 square kilometres (90 square miles) cleared in the first 24 hours.

“That will be a very difficult battle,” he said, but added that Iraqi and US forces are “moving faster, more effectively, more efficiently,” in part due to US President Donald Trump having given Mattis more authority to decide on tactics and resources needed.

Mattis, who is on a five-day swing through Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Ukraine, said he would also talk about reconstruction and resettlement of hundreds of thousand of Iraqis driven from their homes and towns by the fighting, especially Mosul.

“It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a heavy lift for them going forward.”

But Heras said Mattis, whom he said has earned firm trust among Iraqis, needs to help Abadi further build his power as a moderate for the post-war, with elections looming for next year.

“That will be a political pickle that Mattis will have to work Abadi through,” he said.

For Mattis’s meeting with Barzani, Heras added: “All signs point to it being one of those tough-love talks.”

by Paul Handley with Ahmad al-Rubaye at Tal Afar Airbase