Jordanian officials deny claims of rift with Riyadh

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AMMAN: Jordanian officials have rejected Western media claims of a rift between Jordan and Saudi Arabia over Amman’s attempts to forge new alliances in the face of a growing economic crisis. Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sufian Qudah said the claims failed to reflect Jordan’s foreign policy.

Qudah was responding to a report in the UK daily newspaper The Times which claimed that Jordan’s King Abdullah in recent months had opened talks with Turkey and Qatar, and had made subtle overtures to Iran. The Jordanian ruler was also angered by US President Donald Trump’s aggressive support for Israeli interests, the report claimed.

Foreign relations experts were also quick to dismiss the claims.

Musa Shteiwi, head of Jordan University’s strategic studies center, told Arab News there was “absolutely no change” in Jordanian foreign policy due to the US plans.

“There are some in the media who are on a fishing expedition, swinging in the dark and making accusations not based on the reality on the ground,” he said.

Muhammad Momani, a former Jordan government spokesman, described claims of King Abdullah defying Trump and the Saudis as “surprising.”

“Our relations with all Arab countries, and especially our Gulf brothers, is excellent,” he told Arab News.

Momani, now chairman of the independent Amman daily Al-Ghad, rejected suggestions by the British newspaper that Jordan is moving closer to Iran and Qatar.

“The fact is there is no Jordanian ambassador in Iran and the same applies to Qatar,” he said.

Several analysts pointed out that Jordan had ended its economic treaty with Turkey in November 2018 and was yet to renew the partnership despite pressure from some in the business community.

In its report on Monday, The Times claimed that “King Abdullah has in recent months opened talks with Turkey and Qatar, long-standing rivals of Saudi Arabia. It has even made subtle overtures to Iran, the Gulf state’s main enemy and a country about which the king was issuing dire warnings until recently.”

The newspaper said the Jordanian moves come amid a mounting economic crisis with Riyadh reducing cash subsidies that have kept the country afloat for decades.

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