Ammon News, Gotcha

UN Yemen envoy’s office to relocate to Amman from New York

[6/20/2017 7:30:28 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the temporary relocation of the office of the UN secretary general’s special envoy to Yemen from New York to Amman, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. The decision reflects the international community’s trust in Jordan’s diplomatic capabilities and its role in supporting the efforts to realise security and stability in the region, Petra said. An agreement is to be signed between the UN and Jordan related to moving the office. The decision noted the need to appoint an attaché to coordinate the relocation process, to receive Yemeni officials and to hold meetings, Petra added.

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Jordan’s King Abdullah helps put out fire near his palace

[6/18/2017 8:29:10 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan’s King Abdullah II thanked the various entities that participated in putting out a fire in the area of Kamaliyya on the outskirts of the capital Amman, a green mountain range with a spring weather and heavy air, located along the edges of the royal palace. King Abdullah tweeted on Sunday: “By the grace of the brave of all the military and civil devices, the fire of Kamalism was extinguished yesterday, thank you for all the efforts that they have made, God save you and save Jordan.” A video showing King Abdullah close to the trees rescued from the fire circulated social media sites, with a large number of young people witnessed fighting the fire that broke out in the forested area.

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Jordan soldier hears murder charges in deaths of 3 US troops

[6/7/2017 10:42:58 AM]

AMMONNEWS - A judge presiding over the trial of a Jordanian soldier accused of killing three U.S. military trainers said Wednesday that the case is criminal and not related to terrorism. The U.S. Army Green Berets were killed when their convoy came under fire at the entrance of an air base in southern Jordan in November. Jordan, a close U.S. military ally, initially suggested the Americans triggered the shooting by disobeying orders of Jordanian troops at the gate to the base. The claim was quickly disputed by the U.S. and then withdrawn. Some of the relatives of the slain soldiers sharply criticized Jordan's handling of the case and the investigation. On Wednesday, the defendant, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, appeared in a military court in the Jordanian capital of Amman. He was dressed in the brown garb of prisoners, with shackles on his wrists and ankles, said Moussa Abdallat, a lawyer not connected to the case who was present in the courtroom. Judge Mohammed al-Afif read the charges and then scheduled the next session for Sunday because the defense attorney had failed to attend. The judge said he would appoint a lawyer if the soldier's attorney does not appear the next time. If convicted, the defendant faces life in prison with hard labor, but not the death penalty, said the judge. Al-Afif told reporters that the defendant "is a criminal but not a terrorist." He said that the defendant "had no relation to any terror groups or extremist groups, and he did not have an extremist ideology." The judge did not elaborate. There have been a number of shooting attacks on security compounds in Jordan, including one in 2015 at a police training center that killed five people, among them two U.S. trainers. Jordan has at times played down a possible connection to Islamic extremist groups, suggesting the assailants were lone wolves with personal problems. Jordan is a member of a U.S.-led international military coalition against Islamic State extremists who control territory in Syria and Iraq, both neighbors of Jordan. It also faces a growing threat from home-grown Islamic extremists, who have carried out several attacks. The decision to charge the soldier was welcomed by the bereaved parents who said it was a step in the right direction. The U.S. army has named the soldiers as 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, of Kirksville, Missouri; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe of Tucson, Arizona, and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Kerrville, Texas. A Jordanian government official said Tuesday that the trial would be closed, but al-Afif said proceedings would be open to the public. *AP

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Germany Considers Potential Base in Jordan

[5/21/2017 4:00:45 PM]

AMMONNEWS - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced the possibility of establishing a military base in Jordan. The announcement came after German lawmakers were denied access to Incirlik, the home of German forces in Turkey. The Incirlik base has been essential to Germany’s role in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State. If Turkey forces Germany into an untenable relationship, Berlin will have to base its planes elsewhere. Following Turkey’s blockage of the politicians, Merkel announced, “We will continue to talk with Turkey, but in parallel we will have to explore other ways of fulfilling our mandate.” She continued, “That means looking at alternatives to Incirlik, and one alternative among others is Jordan.” Jordan is an obvious choice. Despite its proximity to regional crises, the Sunni majority country has managed to avoid the chaos triggered by the Arab Spring. A base in Jordan would be relatively stable and could potentially extend Germany’s reach at least another 600 miles into the Middle East. If Merkel were to shift Germany’s entire operation from Turkey to Jordan, it would involve the movement of some 270 personnel, German Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling plane. The foundation of a relationship has already been laid. Late last year, Germany announced $88.6 million worth of grants and loans to Jordan, thereby increasing Berlin’s total pledged assistance to the country to approximately $529 million. The grants and soft loans are designed to support Jordan’s sanitation and water sectors. It is the latest in many years of similar nonmilitary investments by the Germans. Other areas of cooperation range from solar thermal power plants to railways. Germany is Jordan’s second-largest bilateral donor after the United States. According to the Jordan Times, “Supporting Jordan in overcoming the refugee crisis has been a crucial part of Germany’s funding of projects in the kingdom, the statement said, indicating that Berlin has supported Amman with more than €1.12 billion since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2012.” But of course, as the base at Incirlik proves, Germany knows that the problems of the Middle East will not be solved with grants and soft loans. While Germany has traded in weapons with Jordan in the past, the establishment of a German air base would be a big step for relations between the two nations. With Jordan already conducting air raids in Syria, the move to one of Jordan’s three air bases currently in operation would likely see German and Jordanian troops working together much more closely. Relations between Germany and Jordan so far have mostly been confined to economic dealings, but the Trumpet has kept close watch on this budding friendship, because the Bible says these two nations will one day be in an alliance. Psalm 83:5-8 describe Assur (the Assyrians, who migrated from Mesopotamia to Europe) in an alliance with the Moabites. Unlike the Assyrians, the Moabites have not relocated in the thousands of years since this psalm was written. They still reside in the same region, and today they are known as Jordanians. *The Trumpet

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Syrian army sends reinforcements toward border with Jordan, Iraq

[5/15/2017 9:44:35 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Syrian army aided by Iranian-backed militias was moving troops to a desert region near its border with Iraq and Jordan just as US backed rebels are consolidating control in an area from which ISIS militants had recently pulled out, rebel sources and commanders said on Monday. They said their intelligence showed that hundreds of Syrian troops and Iranian-backed militias with tanks and heavy equipment had moved in the last few days to the town of Sabaa Biyar, in a sparsely populated desert territory that goes all the way to the Jordanian and Iraqi border known as the Syrian Badia. The remote town near the strategic Damascus-Baghdad highway was captured by the army and its allies last week as they seek to prevent areas left by the hardline militants from falling into the hands of Western-backed moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels say. “They have sent big reinforcements from artillery, to tanks and armored vehicles,” said Major Issam Al Reis, the spokesperson for the so-called Southern Front group of Western-backed FSA rebel groups. The Syrian army was not immediately available for comment. The Syrian army has been alarmed by two months of FSA advances against ISIS that allowed the rebels to secure a large swathe of sparsely populated territory stretching from the town of Bir Qassab, some 50 km (30 miles) southeast of Damascus, all the way to the borders with Iraq and Jordan. “The regime’s plan is to reach the Iraqi-Syrian border and cut the road on our advance further toward the north east against ISIS’s strongholds there after they lost territory in the Badia,” al Reis said. The Syrian government warplanes struck rebel outposts near the borders with Jordan and Iraq last Tuesday. In the last few days they also stepped up surveillance missions in the Badia and struck rebel outposts in the town of Bir Qassab. But the push by the Syrian army and its Iranian backed allies could risk bringing them to close to the Tanf base near the Iraqi border where US special forces operate and train FSA rebels, rebels said. The base is being expanded to become a launching pad for operations to oust militants from the eastern province of Deir Zor, that straddles Iraq, from the south east of Syria, regional intelligence sources say. But the presence of Iranian-backed militias from Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah in that area has alarmed Jordan, a US ally, which backs the moderate rebel groups. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the kingdom did not accept the presence of these militias as much they fought the threat of the ultra-hardline. Rebels say the ultimate goal of the Syrian army’s push in the Badia was to link its forces with Iraq’s paramilitary groups on the other side of the border. The troops launched an offensive on Friday to drive the militants from the desert region near the border with Syria. [L8N1IE3SN]. Iraqi militia leaders said they hoped to link up with Syrian government forces. The Damascus-Baghdad highway was a major weapons supply route for Iranian weapons into Syria until ISIS seized large territory along the Iraqi Syrian border, regional intelligence sources says. Rebels say they have begun this week to target outposts they believed were manned by Iranian backed militias. “The Syrian desert will not accept new occupiers it got rid of Baghdadi’s caliphate (ISIS head) not so that Iran’s terrorist militias take its place. It is our strategic depth,” said Captain Ahmed Tamer, the head of the Ahmed Abdo Martyrs Forces. *Reuters

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Jordan not part of Syria deescalation deal

[5/6/2017 4:16:27 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan is not part of the agreement signed in the Kazakh capital Astana to create deescalation zones in Syria, a top government official said on Saturday. “Jordan is not part of the agreement, but it supports all efforts to attain a political solution in Syria,” the official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Jordan Times on Saturday. On Thursday, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed an agreement to create deescalation zones in Syria with a view to ending the fighting in Syria. The three countries signed the agreement in the presence of UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, observers from the US and Jordan, a delegation of the Syrian government and members of the armed opposition. “Our main concern is to protect our borders and interests,” the official said. The official stressed that ending the fighting and escalations in Syria is a strategic interest for Jordan. “Jordan is taking part in the Astana talks as an observer and the deal was between three countries; Russia, Iran and Turkey,” the official added. The zones, which aim to reduce tensions, will be set up in four areas, namely in Idlib province and neighbouring areas — Latakia, Hama and Aleppo — to the north of Homs, East Ghouta and some provinces in southern Syria — Daraa and Quneitra — Russian News Agency TASS reported. Security areas will be established on the borders of deescalation zones, where checkpoints are due to be set up to facilitate the passage of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Points to monitor the ceasefire will be also be arranged there, it indicated. The Russian president’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said Moscow is ready to send observers to Syria to monitor the ceasefire in deescalation zones. He said states that are not parties to the memorandum on deescalation zones could also take part in the monitoring. This decision must be taken unanimously by the countries — guarantors of the ceasefire — Turkey, Russia and Iran, the diplomat said, according to TASS. The memorandum on establishing deescalation zones in Syria envisages a ceasefire in the designated areas from May 6. Any military activity, including flights of aircraft, will be banned. Russia, Iran and Turkey will do their utmost to combat terrorism in these territories and outside them, according to the news agency. Ten days after signing the memorandum, the guarantor states will establish a joint working group, in particular for designating the borders of deescalation zones, according to TASS.

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Jordanian envoy to Saudi Arabia hails Vision 2030 as strongest in region

[4/25/2017 11:02:56 AM]

AMMONNEWS - In an interview with's Editor-in-Chief Mamdouh AlMuhaini, Bassem Awadallah, the Jordanian king’s special envoy to Saudi Arabia, discussed Jordanian-Saudi ties and commended Saudi Vision 2030 and its positive effects on the economy of Arab countries. Awadallah said Jordanian-Saudi relations are strong, strategic and historical, adding that Jordan believes Saudi Arabia is one of its most important allies. He also said that Jordan and Saudi Arabia have the same stances towards several affairs, adding that the Saudi-Jordanian Coordination Council is a basic pillar towards guaranteeing the sustainability of bilateral relations. According to Awadallah, Saudi Arabia is Jordan’s biggest commercial partner as the Saudi kingdom invests more than $13 billion in the Jordanian economy. The Saudi-Jordanian Investment Fund Company will invest in several fields, and the size of these investments is estimated at $3 billion, Awadallah said. Commenting on Saudi Vision 2030, Awadallah said it’s considered the strongest and most comprehensive reform project on the level of the region and the entire world, adding that implementing this vision will positively affect Arab economies. He added that reform plans to end dependency on oil in Arab countries, particularly in Saudi Arabia, is the most important step during this phase. Regarding non-oil producing countries, he said they would need to reform structural projects that end dependency on aid. Asked about the Arab Spring and its repercussions on the economy of Arab countries, Awadallah said poverty, unemployment and absence of justice were some of the major reasons that lead to the so-called Arab Spring. He noted that Arab youths’ demands were logical and realistic but their repercussions were disastrous and affected all Arab countries. Awadallah added that what the region currently needs is an Arab developmental plan like the Marshall Plan which brought Europe out of crisis after World War II. *AlArabiya

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