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NATO reaffirms bond with Jordan in anti-terror fight

By Mohammad Ghazal - Feb 13,2020 - Last updated at Feb 13,2020

James Appathurai

BRUSSELS — NATO is keen on working further with Jordan in its fight against terror as the threat posed by the Daesh extremist group persists, according to a senior NATO official.

In an interview with The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels, NATO's Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy James Appathurai said that the war on terror “is not over”.

“There is an ongoing risk from Daesh. They may not hold large swathes of territories, but there are very substantial numbers of fighters in the tens of thousands and they continue to pose a risk and they will take advantage of opportunities if we are not organised in what we do,” Appathurai said.

The NATO official said that no decisions have been taken yet on measures to combat Daesh, but he added: “I am sure that Jordan will be seen as a pillar for our cooperation and for our enhanced cooperation. We will be discussing with Jordan what Jordan would like to see from us.”

Dialogue will commence in the coming weeks to determine the nature of continued cooperation with Jordan, and in the wider context of the Middle East, cooperation with other allies and partners, Appathurai said.

“There is no doubt that Jordan is at the forefront. We see Jordan as a key partner in the fight against terrorism and we will discuss what to do more in the fight against Daesh and against radical extremism,” he added.

NATO, which plans to expand involvement in the Middle East following a call by US President Donald Trump towards this aim, is keen on constant stronger political dialogue with Jordan to “help us understand how to do the right thing in the most effective way”, said Appathurai.

“There will be meetings in the coming weeks to talk more about what can be done more together. Meeting with Jordanian ambassador to NATO amongst others, and we want to see what ideas are coming from Jordan,” he added.

“We are at the beginning stages of this [expanding Middle East involvement]. We have ideas and we want to make sure they are good ideas. We will do them in cooperation with partners including Jordan,” he said.

Referring to a recent visit by His Majesty King Abdullah to NATO’s headquarters, he said: “The visits of the King are some of the most valuable that I have seen in my 20 years at NATO… The King always offers a remarkable political analysis and some concrete ideas for what we can do.”

NATO looks highly to Jordan as a “trusted, credible and key partner”, he added.

“There is a very long record of trusting cooperation and that is the reason that the only country in the region that has an enhanced opportunity partner is Jordan because we do so much together, we do it so well and because there is so much confidence in each other,” said Appathurai.

The Jordan-NATO  partnership has spanned more than 25 years during which the Kingdom and the alliance have expanded the scope of their cooperation to areas including defence, intelligence information sharing, capacity building and training, among others.

At the 2014 NATO Wales Summit, Jordan was among five countries identified by the alliance as eligible for enhanced opportunity partnerships for dialogue and cooperation, alongside Australia, Finland, Georgia and Sweden. The alliance said these partners are making “particularly significant contributions” to NATO operations.

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