Congress is looking to turn up the heat in the battle against ISIS by providing more weaponry and other military support to the Kingdom of Jordan, one of the strongest U.S. allies in the Middle East. And not incidentally, at least one GOP presidential candidate is using the effort to launch more attacks on President Obama.
On Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the U.S.-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015,” in order to expedite arms sales to Jordan, and to increase both military and cash assistance to the Kingdom. On its north, Jordan borders almost completely on Syria. The three-way battle between ISIS, the forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, and rebel groups opposed to both, has forced more than half a million Syrian refugees into Jordanian territory.
“A stronger relationship with our friends in Jordan is essential to preventing ISIL from gaining more territory and massacring tens of thousands of additional innocent people and key to our efforts to defeat this group,” said Rubio, using an alternate acronym for the terrorist group that has taken over much of Syria and Iraq. “Given the President’s failure to put together a strategy to fight ISIL, Congress must step in to bolster our allies in the region, such as Jordan, against this threat to global stability and safety.”
The legislation notes that the U.S. has already sent more than $3 billion in humanitarian aid to the countries surrounding Syria, $467 million of which has gone to Jordan. The U.S., which was already providing $660 million in other aid to Jordan agreed earlier this year to up that total to $1 billion a year through 2017.
The Rubio legislation – a similar version of which passed the House earlier this month – would further empower the administration to “increase economic support funds, military cooperation, including joint military exercises, personnel exchanges, support for international peacekeeping missions, and enhanced strategic dialogue.”
Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a vocal critic of the administration’s position on ISIS, and has been complimentary of Jordan’s efforts against the terror group.
Jordan’s proximity to Syria has kept it in the news in recent days because of a lengthy trip made there by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, the 24-year-old Chattanooga man who killed four U.S. Marines there on Thursday. Last year, Abdulazeez, who was a dual U.S.-Jordanian citizen, spent several months in Jordan last year. One of the potential lines of inquiry that federal officials are pursuing is that he was radicalized during his time there, and that the Thursday attack was a case of domestic terrorism.