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Congress Calls for Expedited Weapons for Jordan to Fight IS

  • Meredith Buel

Members of Congress are calling on the Obama administration to expedite weapons to Jordan, an important Arab ally on the frontlines of the fight against Islamic State extremists. Jordan has intensified its fight against the jihadist group, vowing to wipe out the Islamic State, after militants burned alive a captured Jordanian pilot.

The Hashemite Kingdom is ramping up its airstrikes, hitting Islamic State training camps, barracks and ammunition depots.

This tempo requires more weapons and leading U.S. members of Congress, like Republican Senator John McCain, are calling for increased support.

“This committee’s immediate concern is to ensure Jordan has all the equipment and resources necessary to continue taking the fight directly to ISIL," he said.

Jordanian officials say they want revenge after IS posted a horrific video of a captured Jordanian pilot who was burned alive.

The same day the video was released, Jordan’s King Abdullah was in Washington seeking precision munitions, aircraft parts and additional night-vision equipment.

Analysts say the arms transfers are crucial because Jordan is such an important ally in the fight against IS.

“Jordan is the best partner of the United States in this war," said David Schenker, who directs the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute. "They are critical. They are the base of operations of all air operations targeting IS in Syria."

U.S. officials review proposed arms transfers to protect U.S. technologies and to maintain what is called a qualitative military edge for Israel.

Ashton Carter, who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next Secretary of Defense, is vowing to cut red tape and solve any problems with sending weapons to Jordan.

“I definitely want to find out what they are and resolve them because we need partners on the ground to beat ISIS," he said.

Emotions are running high in Jordan and analysts say public opinion appears to be solidly behind King Abdullah. Demonstrations are being held condemning the killing of the pilot and expressing solidarity with the family.

Analysts say there is agreement in Washington to strengthen the strategic partnership with Amman.

“The relationship is extremely close," said David Schenker. "There is a consensus between the administration and the Congress that more has to be done for Jordan and in short order," he said.

The United States will increase its annual assistance to Jordan from $660 million to $1 billion per year.

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