The United States' Interests in the Middle East During the Obama Administration: Jordan – A Case Study

The United States' Interests in the Middle East During the Obama Administration: Jordan – A Case Study

Ayman Al Sharafat (Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9566-3.ch007


This chapter aims to analyze the US's foreign policy priorities toward Jordan in the communications of Obama, through the period from 2009 to 2017. It answers the questions: what were the US's priorities in Jordan during the Obama administration? And how Jordan was described by Obama's communications. This work is a creative one, it uses qualitative and quantitative to investigate Obama's activities toward Jordan. In order to classify the US interests in Jordan, we use Byman and Molle's classification of the US's foreign policy interests in the Middle East: counterterrorism, security of Israel, democratization, nuclear proliferation, and oil. This chapter finds that Obama's foreign strategy and approach had been driven by the maxim of ‘multilateral retrenchment', which designed to achieve the United States foreign commitments, reshape its standing among the world powers, and transfer burdens onto foreign partners. The United States of America under the Obama administration substantially depended on Jordan to solve many regional complex issues and crisis.
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In 2009 Barack Obama was elected as the first African-American president and he had the highest winning percentage (79%) among all presidents in the twenty years before his election, and in 2012 he was reelected for the second time, he served as the U.S. president from 2009 to 2017 (Al-Sarhan, 2016). President Obama inherited a complex situation in the Middle East; the war in Iraq, Palestine-Israel conflict, Iran's nuclear ambition, Gulf's oil, democratizing of the dictatorship systems and later Arab Spring. All of these hot issues were crucial for Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East. Obama administration put a large-scale of military commitment in the Middle East after terrorist groups started showing up in Iraq and Syria, and it stepped up a lot of efforts to work with allies in the region, Obama asked his partners in the region to participate in a coalition against terrorist militias, the main reason of that coalition was to keep the region security and protect the U.S.'s interests. Jordan was a main player in the coalition and it contributed along with the US in many air strikes in the region. Many politicians considered Obama foreign policy totally different from Bush foreign policy; during the Bush administration, the US believed it could solve all the overseas issues unilaterally. But Obama foreign policy appeared non-interventionist and he focused more on the domestic issues (Lindsay, 2011). In general, the US interests in the Middle East can be broken down into five fields: counterterrorism, keeping Israel security, prohibiting nuclear spread, democratizing of the region and ensuring the flow of oil from the Middle East (Byman & Moller, 2016).

Jordan is a small country in the heart of the Middle East; poor in its sources, surrounded by Syria in the north, Iraq in the east, Saudi Arabia in the south and Israel-Palestine in the west. Due to its Geographic Location, it has enabled Jordan to play an important role in its region and has made it an attractive partner for the United States. Even Though Jordan and the United States have never been shared an official treaty, but they have cooperated in many issues, inside and outside the Middle East. The geographic location of Jordan is more than important for the supporters (Sharp, 2018). For example, the United States during Obama administration offered $3.75 billion to Jordan as loan guarantee (Sharp, 2018). Due to Jordan's economic problems, Jordan depended on the US aid programs and other Western Countries aids; this continues support has enabled Jordan to deal with its crises and to survive. Many people argue the miserable economic situation of Jordan, hosting a huge number of refugees from its neighbors, its crucial location on the west of oil producers, its long border with Israel and its historic-religion relation with Palestine issue, have made the US wishful to keep Jordan in its basket (Al-Sharafat, 2016).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Interests: The feeling of a human or the concern of a country about something. In international relations, interests mean a nation aims or objectives towards another nation and they are not necessary to be announced.

Israel-Palestine Conflict: The ongoing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. It began in 1948. It started when Israel has occupied the West Bank and the Gaza.

The Middle East Region: An area that includes Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, Turkey, Bahrain, Libya, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Iran.

President Obama: Barack Obama who was born on August 4, 1961, he served as 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017.

Nuclear Weapon: An explosive device, it derives its strong force from nuclear reactions. Israel is the only state in the Middle East has this destructive power, while Iran is struggling to get it.

Jordan: A kingdom located on the heart of the Middle East with size 89,342 square kilometers, it considering as an entrance between the Middle East and North Africa, Mediterranean countries and Gulf countries. Jordan is an ally of the United States since its independence from Great Britain in 1946.

The Middle East Oil: Oil or petroleum is a very important energy source use in all human life aspects. The Middle East is the largest oil producer in the world and it holds enormous reserves of oil.

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