The military alliance’s office in Amman would be the first in the Arab region and comes as a result of close cooperation and strong bilateral ties between NATO and the kingdom, the Jordan News Agency quoted a high-ranking official in the military alliance as saying.
A NATO delegation is expected to visit Jordan in October, military and strategic expert Jalal al-Abadi told The New Arab’s sister site. He said cooperation between both sides goes back to 2005.
“Jordan could be the regional centre for the alliance, and through this centre there can be coordination with regional countries,” Al-Abadi told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
The Jordanian army already works closely with NATO forces and has deployed several hundred troops abroad to serve in UN peacekeeping missions, notably in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. Several western nations, including the US, have military bases in the kingdom.
It is highly respected by most Western commanders and viewed as one of the most professional militaries in the Arab world. He noted that following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO began to anticipate threats which it feared could possibly affect its partners and allies in the Middle East and Africa.
The potential NATO centre in Amman would focus on training, combatting terrorism, intelligence work, logistical support, and cybersecurity revealed Al-Abadi, who considered Jordan to be a good pick due its close geographic proximity to Syria, Israel, Iraq “and most importantly Iran.”
He spoke of the financial benefits Jordan would reap from hosting the NATO office. According to the US State Department website, Washington is Jordan’s single largest provider of bilateral assistance.
As well as money given to Jordan through USAID, Washington has also provides $425 million in State Department Foreign Military Financing funds. Jordanian geopolitical analyst and journalist Amer Al-Sabaileh said a liaison office in Amman would come at no surprise considering Jordan is an ally of NATO, as he also listed the benefits of being a regional hub for the alliance.
“Jordan needs to develop its capabilities, raise its level of preparedness, and benefit from technological development, and needs permanent partners in the event of dangers, especially as it faces today a new pattern of drug gangs, dangers on the borders, and terrorism threats,” he told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, Jordan has been a transit route for drug gangs trying to reach the Gulf and other countries.
Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Damascus has been pressured by Amman and Gulf states to curb the smuggling – especially of the cheap but highly dangerous amphetamine captagon.
Earlier this year, Jordan took military action inside Syria, striking and killing prominent drug lords. It has also issued several warnings for drug gangs to surrender themselves, following deadly clashes with smugglers along its 375km border with Syria.
Analysts believe that these rampant security issues could push Jordan towards a closer military alliance with the US and allies in the region, including Israel, which Jordan has shared diplomatic ties with since 1994.
In June last year, Jordan’s King Abdullah said he would be in favour of a Middle Eastern military alliance built on the same model as NATO.