Intel: Pompeo discusses Syria with Jordan’s foreign minister

al-monitor US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi during a gathering of foreign ministers aligned toward the defeat of Islamic State at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 6, 2019.  Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

May 28, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Syria today on a phone call with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Ortagus noted that Pompeo thanked Safadi for “Jordan’s support and cooperation during COVID-19” as well as “several matters of interest, including developments in Syria” while “reaffirming the strength of the US-Jordan bilateral partnership.”

Why it matters: The United States is currently lobbying Russia to reopen two UN border crossings that were previously used to deliver humanitarian aid into Syria, including the Ramtha crossing from Jordan. Russia wielded its veto power at the United Nations earlier this year to close the Ramtha crossing, as well as the Yarubiya crossing from Iraq.

Additionally, seven conservative Republicans have turned to legislation Congress passed last year that would cut off some $1.5 billion in US economic and military aid to Jordan unless Amman extradites Ahlam al-Tamimi, a convicted terrorist who helped kill 15 people, including two Americans, in a 2001 bomb attack in Israel. Still, the law allows Pompeo to issue a national security waiver that would allow the aid to continue if Jordan refuses to extradite her.

Finally, Jordan has also cautioned Israel against annexing its West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley. While President Donald Trump’s peace plan proposes annexation, Washington has become less keen on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s July timeline amid public opposition from Jordan, which has a peace treaty with Israel, and other Arab states.

What’s next: The United States faces an uphill battle at the UN Security Council to convince Russia to reopen the Syria border crossings from Jordan and Iraq. Additionally, Russia may seek to close the two remaining UN crossings from Turkey.

Know more: Amberin Zaman has the inside story on the United Nations battle to reopen the Jordan and Iraq border crossings to humanitarian aid. And Bryant Harris explains why aid-dependent Jordan’s continued refusal to extradite Tamimi to the United States could jeopardize nearly all US assistance.

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