3 Gulf Arab states pledge $2.5bn to Jordan after protests

2018-06-11 19:03
Saudi King Salman, centre, receives Jordan's King Abdullah II, front right, and Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, left, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Saudi King Salman, centre, receives Jordan's King Abdullah II, front right, and Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, left, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

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Three Gulf Arab states pledged $2.5bn in aid to Jordan on Monday in an effort to stabilise the US-allied kingdom as it faces its worst protests in years over government austerity plans that included tax increases.

The money from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will go toward a deposit in Jordan's Central Bank, cover World Bank guarantees for the kingdom, offer budget support and finance other development projects.

The hope is the five-year aid package, which mirrors a similar aid package offered by Gulf states in 2011, would help Jordan come up with a new, more-palatable austerity plan to both satisfy international lenders and its public.

The money came after an early morning meeting in Mecca attended by Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi King Salman, Kuwait's ruling emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE's vice president and prime minister. Also on hand was Saudi Arabia's assertive 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, though he sat off to the side of a circular table that hosted the leaders.

The statement quoted King Abdullah II as saying he hoped the aid would help his country overcome its fiscal crisis.

Diplomatic crisis

In December 2011, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council that is headquartered in Saudi Arabia pledged to give $2.5bn 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 six-member GCC has yet to offer any additional funding as the bloc remains split by a diplomatic crisis with Qatar. Jordan receives over $1bn a year from the US, as well as aid from Europe and elsewhere.

Jordan's protests have seen its prime minister sacked. While peaceful, the protests threaten the stability of a kingdom strained by hosting those who fled the wars in Iraq and Syria. Jordan also is one of only two Arab nations to have full diplomatic relations with Israel and plays an instrumental role in the region and in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

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