WASHINGTON (Dispatches) – The U.S. is boosting aid to its longtime ally Jordan as the resource-poor kingdom copes with a flagging economy at home and the lingering effects of conflicts amongst its neighbors.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Friday that will see the U.S. provide $10.15bn in aid to Jordan over the next seven years.
The deal was first announced by President Joe Biden in July following his meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on the sidelines of a summit in Jeddah.
“The U.S. has gone above and beyond for Jordan,” the country’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said at an event hosted by the Wilson Center in Washington following the signing.
“It’s an extremely important MOU. It speaks to the strong friendship the two countries have. This is the longest and the largest MOU that we signed.”
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as it is officially known, is one of the U.S.’s most stalwart allies in the region.
The U.S. is Jordan’s largest donor, and the level of aid the kingdom receives exceeds the amount Washington provides to Egypt, another U.S. ally in the region with a population 10 times the size of Jordan.
U.S. aid to Jordan has been climbing for nearly a decade. In 2014 it totaled about $660m per year. With the new MOU it is on track to reach $1.45bn in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration said that it will give the majority of a $300m tranche of annual military aid conditioned on human rights improvements to Egypt, saying Cairo had made “clear and consistent progress in releasing political prisoners and providing detainees with due process of law”.
Rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers have urged the administration to withhold the full $300m from Egypt where at least 60,000 political prisoners currently languish in prisons, many of them held in pre-trial detention.
Congress had made $300m of the more than $1bn Egypt receives in U.S. military aid contingent on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi improving the country’s human rights record.
As in 2021, the U.S. will withhold $130m of military aid but allow the other $170m.
U.S. State Department officials told Reuters that $75m will be released after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined that Cairo, by releasing around 500 jailed individuals, had made some progress on political detentions and due process.