Angry at the decision to increase food prices last month, restive Jordanians are demanding the government’s resignation and the dissolution of parliament.
Last month, the government implemented a tax rise of between 50-100 percent on key food staples such as bread, in order to decrease its $700m budget deficit.
Jordan’s debt has now reached $40bn and its debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio has reached a record 95 percent, up from 71 percent in 2011.
The economic crunch that squeezes the country will be particularly acute this year, after Jordan’s Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies – Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait – did not renew a five-year financial assistance programme with Amman worth $3.6bn that ended in 2017.
The United States is now the only donor that has committed itself to support Jordan. On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed a five-year $6.375bn ($1.275bn a year) aid deal with Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi
This surpassed the previous agreement of about $1bn a year, signed with the previous US administration, by about 27 percent, and increased in length from three years to five.
A US State Department statement said $750m was earmarked annually for economic support funds and $350m for the military. It was unclear what the remaining $175m would be used for.
“As part of this bilateral understanding, Jordan has committed to prioritise economic and security sector reforms that aim to support Jordanian self-reliance,” it said.
During a joint press conference in Amman, Tillerson said the increase would support Jordan’s security roles in fighting terrorism and the conflict in Syria.
However, even with the increased flow of US aid that has funded budgets and projects since the 1950s, it remains to be seen if Jordan’s economy will stabilise, according to analysts.
Hussam Abdallat, a political activist and former government official, told Al Jazeera the American assistance won’t benefit ordinary Jordanians.
“American aid to Jordan is useless to the average Jordanian; most of it goes to support the Jordanian military – which serves American interests, not Jordan’s – and the rest goes back to the US through US companies working in Jordan,” Abdallat said.
READ MORE HERE: