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Rudaw

Syria

Tillerson strengthens US ties with Jordan ahead of trip to Turkey

By Rudaw 14/2/2018
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signs a guest book before a meeting with the Jordanian foreign minister in Amman on February 14, 2018. Photo: Muhammed Hamed AFP
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signs a guest book before a meeting with the Jordanian foreign minister in Amman on February 14, 2018. Photo: Muhammed Hamed AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — While in Jordan, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Syrian regime opposition and renewed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Kingdom.

The agreement between the two countries provides Amman with $1.275 billion per year in bilateral foreign assistance — $275 million more per year than the current level.

"It contributes to the security of our nations and the region," said Tillerson. "...This MoU is a signal to the rest of the world that the US-Jordan partnership has never been stronger."

Tillerson will go to Turkey later this week, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened the United States with an "Ottoman slap" on Tuesday. 

Also on Tuesday, the Director of National Intelligence for the US testified to the Senate that "The Kurdish People’s Protection Unit — the Syrian militia of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — probably will seek some form of autonomy but will face resistance from Russia, Iran, and Turkey."

While no policy changes have been announced, Turkey and the United States both consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

The PKK is currently engaged in a sometimes armed struggle against the Turkish state, as the group seeks greater political, cultural, and minority rights.

The YPG deny any organic links to the PKK.

Tillerson also had a closed-door meeting with unnamed Syrian opposition negotiators on Wednesday, AFP reported.

The United States announced in 2017 that it had ended a covert program aimed at toppling Assad.


Opposition and Kurdish groups from Syria did not attend Russia's summit in January, which was just days after the ninth round of the UN talks in Geneva failed to make any substantial progress.

The Syrian National Coalition was founded in Qatar, while the Syrian National Council was established in Turkey. They both oppose the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Russia has backed Assad and has held intra-Syrian talks in Astana and Sochi. The UN, the US, and Jordan have at different times sent observers to the Astana talks.

The Sochi talks in January did not run smoothly

The United States announced in 2017 that it had ended a covert aimed at toppling Assad.

It still maintains a presence within Syria through the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which back the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The dominate force on the ground in northern Syria is the mostly-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), and they have formed the backbone of the SDF.

The US denied last week that it was supporting YPG fighters in the northwestern canton of Afrin.

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