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US Peace Corps Withdraws from Jordan, Cites Regional Instability

The U.S. Peace Corps program is pulling dozens of volunteers out of Jordan and temporarily shuttering its services in the country, citing the "current regional environment."

The agency said Saturday it was withdrawing 37 youth development workers from the country.

The announcement came after the U.S. Embassy in Jordan warned in February of potential threats against "high-end malls" in the capital, Amman.

Click to enlarge image
Click to enlarge image

Jordan has long been perceived as an island of relative stability in a turbulent region, a country that offers shelter to war refugees from neighboring countries. Harm to that image could pose a growing threat to important branches of Jordan's economy, including tourism and related businesses.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani declined to comment Sunday on the decision by the Peace Corps, which was posted on the agency's website over the weekend.

Mustafa Hamarneh, a member of Jordan's parliament, said there is a sense among Jordanians that U.S. officials are exaggerating the possible risk of attacks on foreigners in Jordan.

"Malls are full, markets are full," he said. "There is no general sense in this country that we are in danger."

Maintaining Jordan's image as a stable country is critical for the economy, he said.

Jordan, which shares borders with Syria and Iraq where the Islamic State group has gained territory in the past year, is a member of the U.S.-led international coalition conducting air raids against the militants.

This is the second major suspension for the program since it began in Jordan in 1997. Services were stopped in 2002, as the United States ramped up to the invasion of Iraq the following year. Volunteers returned in 2004.

Some material for this report came from AP.

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