After cash-strapped Jordan faced its most menacing street protests in years over the government’s austerity plan, three Gulf Arab governments stepped up with a pledge of $2.5bn for the effort to stabilize the kingdom. The package put together at a special meeting in Mecca on June 11 by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Republic, is critical for easing the Hashemite Kingdom’s $700m budget deficit. Much of the assistance will be deposited in Jordan’s central bank, cover World Bank loan guarantees and directly support budget outlay in the form of cash deposits and financing for development projects.
That was the substance of the communique read out after Jordan’s King Abdullah II sat down in Mecca with Saudi King Salman, Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al-Sabah and the UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Left out of the official notice, DEBKA Weekly’s Gulf sources reveal, was the unpublished interview before the summit between King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammed and the beleaguered King Abdullah, at which tough terms were dictated in return for the assistance program, the bulk of which is carried by Riyadh:
The grant will be remitted to Amman in dribs and drabs over two-to-three years so long as Abdullah lives up to the following six pre-conditions:
- He guarantees to halt the anti-Saudi propaganda campaign conducted on the media by the Hashemite royal house. The slightest aberration will prompt the stoppage of the flow of aid.
- Every royal, civil, economic, financial and military body in Jordan must join the land and air siege imposed on the Qatari ruling regime by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. (Qatar responded to the bailout by offering Jordan half a billion dollars in aid in the hope of disrupting its rivals’ grant.)
- The Jordanian army, air force and military intelligence will assume a role, yet to be negotiated, in the Saudi-UAE military coalition fighting the Yemeni Houthi insurgency. The US is also involved. (A separate item in this issue examines this.)
- King Abdullah must undertake a commitment to downgrade the profile and level of operations of the Muslim Brotherhood in his realm, including detentions of its leaders, blocking their ties with branches in other parts of the Middle East including Turkey, breaking up their political networks and restricting their communications outlets.
- Jordan’s king must sever his clandestine intelligence and military ties with Syria’s Bashar Assad and abstain from seeking political or military accommodations with his regime.
- He must also undertake to cool his ties with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. New understandings developed between them when the king joined the Arab protest against the US embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem. Abdullah is henceforth required to follow the lead of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE who treat the Palestinians as an obstacle to the joint Arab-Trump administration drive for a comprehensive peace accord with Israel.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources report that King Abdullah, his back to the wall in view of this kingdom’s dire economic straits, had little choice but to bow to these terms.