Islamic State Has Given Jordan New Life

(Bloomberg) Tobin Harshaw - Just a decade ago, the tiny, oil-poor kingdom of Jordan had all but slipped off the West's radar, no longer needed as a forward bulwark against Saddam Hussein. Today, Jordan is a pivotal member of the anti-jihadist coalition, with a vibrant economy and a military being armed to the teeth by the U.S. and regional allies. The Arab Spring uprisings all but passed Jordan by, burnishing the kingdom's reputation for political stability. Overall U.S. aid for each of the next three years has been boosted to $1 billion, from $660 million in 2014. Jordan is one of the two sites where the Pentagon is spending more than half a billion dollars to train Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State. New financial aid from Persian Gulf allies and elsewhere has pushed GDP growth to near 3.5% since 2013, despite the loss of Syrian trade and a refugee crisis at its northern border. The global collapse in oil prices has helped too, since Jordan imports its energy. Jordan's military has more than 100,000 active-duty troops, 750 tanks and 250 aircraft, and its 14,000-man special forces are considered among the best in the region. Over three days in February, Jordanian pilots carried out 56 bombing raids on Islamic State targets, and a UAE fighter squadron is now operating out of Muwaffaq Salti airbase.

2015-08-31 00:00:00

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