SAUDI RESETS TIES WITH JORDAN: Crown Prince MBS completes very positive trip to Amman, affirms Hashemite King’s historic role as custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem
After years of behind-the-scenes tensions, the visit seems to have reset relations in a positive direction
The rise of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to the role of crown prince in Saudi Arabia several years ago has led to significant – if largely unseen – tensions between Amman and Riyadh.
As MBS worked to solidify his power and assert his regional influence, Jordanian officials saw little interest by the Saudi leader to invest in the Hashemite Kingdom’s economy. They believed MBS could have done far more to help Jordan handle the enormous financial burden of absorbing and caring for more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees.
Jordanian officials also believed MBS was actively trying to get then-U.S. President Donald J. Trump and his advisor Jared Kushner to support Saudi custodianship of the primary Islamic religious sites in Jerusalem in exchange for Saudi normalizing relations with Israel.
That would include the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque and the entire Haram Al-Sharif (known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount)
Such a move, if implemented, would give the Saudis oversight over all of the most revered religious places in the Muslim world, including Mecca and Medina.
But custodianship of the Islamic sites in Jerusalem – known as Al Quds in Arabic – was explicitly assured to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
The treaty does not explicitly or implicitly give Jordan oversight of Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, though over the years the Jordanians have begun to publicly assert such a claim.
While I cannot confirm that MBS was, in fact, actively angling for such custodianship in Jerusalem, I can confirm that Jordanian officials believed he was and were rankled by it.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II is a 43rd generation direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and those close to him jealously guard what they view as his rights and responsibilities as a major Muslim leader.
His father, King Hussein, famously lost control of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War with Israel in June 1967.
This loss was a humiliation and made it incumbent upon the monarchy to do everything possible to restore its influence – if not sovereignty – in Jerusalem, especially since upwards of 70% of its population are Palestinian Muslims who want to see Jerusalem back in Muslim hands.
In this context, then, Saudi Crown Prince MBS visited Amman on Wednesday.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in Jordan, June 22, 2022 (Photo: Royal Hashemite Court)
My sources indicate that MBS’ visit with King Abdullah was warm and encouraging.
The visit appears to have significantly reset relations in a positive direction.
Aside from the crown prince’s willingness to invest more in Jordan’s economy, the most important reason was that MBS publicly and clearly affirmed “the importance of the role of the historical Hashemite guardianship over the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.”
This is what the Jordanians wanted to hear and they were pleased.
It comes on the heels of MBS’ very successful visit to Cairo, meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
As ALL ARAB NEWS reported, “Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed 14 agreements valued at $7.7 billion in the fields of petroleum, renewable energy, green hydrogen, IT, e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and cyber security during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s two-day visit to Cairo which concluded Tuesday.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah II welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jordan, June 22, 2022 (Photo: Royal Hashemite Court)
Here is the joint statement the Jordanians and Saudis released on Wednesday, as reported by The Jordan Times.
AMMAN — A joint communique was released at the conclusion of the official visit of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the deputy prime minister and minister of defence of Saudi Arabia, to Jordan on Wednesday.
The communiqué reiterated the importance of joint action to enhance cooperation in economic and investment-related fields, as well as the need to follow up on the outcomes of the 17th meetings of the Jordanian-Saudi Joint Committee, and the resulting agreements, according to a Royal Court statement.
Jordan expressed appreciation of Saudi support for development projects in various fields, while Saudi Arabia commended Jordan’s launch of the Economic Modernisation Vision for the upcoming 10 years, the communiqué said.
The two countries noted the need to find suitable means to address the fluctuation in the prices of oil, energy, and food, according to the communiqué.
The two sides, in the joint statement, reaffirmed the importance of maintaining cooperation in electric connectivity projects between the two countries, and bolstering cooperation in the field of energy efficiency.
The communiqué said the two sides welcome Saudi investments in renewable energy projects in Jordan.
Saudi Arabia expressed appreciation of Jordan’s support for Riyadh’s candidacy to host World Expo 2030, according to the statement.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia reiterated the need for launching serious and effective international efforts to create a political horizon to resolve the Palestinian issue, on the basis of the two-state solution.
The statement reaffirmed the need to cease all illegal Israeli measures that undermine the two-state solution and the opportunity to reach peace.
In addition, the two countries stressed the need for Israel to respect the historical and legal status-quo in Jerusalem, and its Islamic and Christian holy sites, as well as the role of the Jerusalem Awqaf Council, affiliated with Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, as the sole entity responsible for the administration of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif.
Saudi Arabia highlighted the importance of the historical Hashemite Custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, and its role in safeguarding holy sites, as well as the city’s Arab, Islamic, and Christian identity.
The two sides reaffirmed that the security of Jordan and Saudi Arabia is one and the same.
Jordan stressed it firmly stands with Saudi Arabia in all its measures to safeguard its security, stability, and interests.
The two sides called for stepping up efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and to stop interventions that threaten Syria’s unity and sovereignty.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia expressed hopes that the parties in Iraq would reach an agreement to form a government, while stressing the need to maintain security and stability in Lebanon, as well as support the Lebanese people.
The statement said the two countries support international efforts that seek to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, stressing the need to step up effort in the fight against terrorism, in all its forms.