US departure of Syria leaves a regional vacuum that others rushing to fill

A surprise visit by a nine-member U.S. congressional delegation to Jordan Saturday, October 19th appears to have been aimed at boosting Jordan while also collecting information on the effects of the latest decision by President Trump in regards to Turkey and Syria. The short visit to Jordan was followed by a visit to Afghanistan.

Ahmad Bushnaq the secretary-general of the Jordanian Constitutional Party believes the visiting delegation which included Elliot Engel the head of the foreign relations committee in the U.S. House of Representatives wants to ensure that America doesn’t lose its influence in the region. “America is shuttling between being the sole superpower in the world that must keep its influence in the region and the Trump doctrine that wants out of the Middle East,” he said.

Bushnaq said that the vacuum caused by the abrupt decision of President Trump to withdraw has left regional powers scrambling for power. “To fill this vacuum, different powers want to have the strong hand in controlling the region and American Democrats are worried about that.”

Others saw in the US congressional delegation visit headed by the powerful Speaker Nancy Pelosi a statement of “support” to Jordan. MP Wafa Bani Mustafa a leading member of the Jordanian parliament said that she is certain that the visit strengthens Jordan’s position. “This visit is welcomed and it strengthens Jordan and reassures the leadership of America’s support.” Bani Mustafa who returned from participation in the International Parliamentary Conference in Belgrade said that her worries about the situation in Jordan stem from the way the Syrian delegates acted at that meeting. “I was surprised by the fact that the Syrian delegation in Belgrade abstained from voting in favor of a resolution condemning the Turkish move in Syria.”

However, Adnan Abu Odeh the former advisor to King Hussein and King Abdullah said that there is nothing to fear about in Jordan regarding Turkey’s action. “Jordan’s most powerful asset is its location. Everyone visits Jordan and wants to ally with the Kingdom because of its strategic location.” Abu Odeh conceded that it is possible that Speaker Pelosi and her delegation from the U.S. democratic party “ might want to go back to Washington and convey a sense of concern about the situation in Jordan and the region.”

The nine-member bipartisan delegation included one republican from the Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry and appeared to have a connection to the impeachment inquiry. Among its members was Adam Schiff the head of the intelligence committee which is spearheading the impeachment inquiry effort.

Etaf Roudan a veteran Jordanian journalist notes that the region is experiencing a big political impasse. “King Abdullah is looking to create warm alliances with Washington after the cold shoulder that the Trump has shown to Jordan following the disagreement over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Nancy Pelosi’s visit comes as the Democratic party leader gears up for a major political confrontation with Trump and in light of the fact that unlike Trump, American Democrats support the two-state solution,” she said.

Jordan’s King Abdullah who is well-liked in Washington by both Democrats and Republicans has received a cold shoulder from the Trump administration. The last time that the King met with Trump was in June 2018. In his last two visits, the U.S. President didn’t find time to meet him and while at the UN, President Trump held a meeting for visiting heads of state at the very same time that King Abdullah was addressing the General Assembly.

The nine-member bipartisan congressional delegation included Democrats Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who is leading the impeachment probe into President Trump; Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Rep. Mac Thornberry a Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee was the only Republican in the delegation.

The Pelosi-Abdullah meeting covered the cooperation and strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States, as well as regional developments, according to the official Petra News agency.

Receiving the visiting delegation in addition to the King was Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Khasawneh, and Adviser to His Majesty for Policies and Media Kemal Al Nasser attended the meeting.

Petra News added that other topics included “regional issues, foremost of which is the Palestinian cause, His Majesty stressed the need to reach just, lasting and comprehensive peace on the basis of the two-state solution, which guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as it’s capital.”

Turning to the Syrian crisis, the King urged a political solution that safeguards Syria’s territorial integrity and the unity of its people, while guaranteeing the safe and voluntary return of refugees, Petra said

Palestinian journalist, former Ferris Professor at Princeton U., established @AmmanNet. Contributor to

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