King Abdullah II Meets Vice President Pence to Discuss Middle East Peace
Jordanian King Abdullah II met with Vice President Pence in Washington D.C. on March 11 to discuss issues troubling the Middle East, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Islamic State (ISIS), and U.S. presence in Syria. The meeting with Pence, as well as meetings with White House special advisor Jared Kushner and White House special advisor for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, comes as the Trump administration is preparing to present its Middle East peace plan.
The Trump administration has touted its upcoming peace plan over the past several months, with President Trump having called it the “deal of the century.” Kushner, who is also the President’s son-in-law, has reportedly been the point person for all negotiations regarding Middle East peace, bypassing the traditional Near Eastern Affairs Bureau at the State Department. As one of only two Arab states that has signed a peace agreement with Israel, Jordanian cooperation and support is seen as essential to the success of any long term Israeli-Palestinian agreement. King Abdullah, who has been one of Washington’s closest allies in the region since the Clinton administration, may be wary of new provisions in Trump’s proposed peace agreement.
Recent leaks of Trump’s proposed peace plan, which have not been verified as accurate, suggest that the Trump administration will be looking to have Jordan share management of the Temple Mount with Saudi Arabia and Morocco. King Abdullah has long maintained that Jordan is the sole manager of the Temple Mount and it is almost certain that he would not agree to any proposal that would threaten Jordanian control. Doing so would be potential political suicide for the King, with any concession on the issue likely to inflame public opinion.
King Abdullah views reinforcing his relationship with Washington as essential given rising unemployment in Jordan and his country’s increasing reliance on foreign aid. Likewise, the U.S. relies on Jordan as one of its staunchest allies in one of the most unstable regions in the world. Thus, it is in the Trump administration's general interest to not only ensure Jordan is satisfied with whatever agreement is put forth, but also that the regime’s stability is not threatened.