Senior US officials make quiet stops in Iraq, Jordan

US President Joe Biden’s top White House adviser on the Middle East is in the region as part of a trip to mend widening rifts between Washington’s traditional allies.

Brett McGurk, the White House National Security Council’s Middle East policy coordinator, has made stops in Iraq and Jordan in the past 24 hours, according to sources familiar with his travels.

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He is also expected to lead the delegation to Israel in the coming days, sources told Al Arabiya English.

Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Court said McGurk met with King Abdullah II to discuss “ways to enhance strategic partnership” between Washington and Amman.

The state-run Petra news agency reported that McGurk met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. Amos Hochstein, Biden’s special coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security, was also at the meeting.

Hochstein was already in the region after participating in the Atlantic Council’s World Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

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Petra reported that the talks between American officials and Safadi tackled regional issues, including in Palestine and Syria, the fight against terrorism, and support for Iraq and Lebanon.

“Safadi emphasized the central and leading role of Washington in efforts to breathe new life into the Palestinian-Israeli peace process to resolve the conflict on the basis of the two-state solution and in accordance with international law and the approved references,” said Petra.

Al Arabiya English has contacted the White House for comment.

Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said the US officials in Amman were part of the Biden administration’s efforts to get Jordan to join the Negev Forum and concerns about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Abdullah is expected to visit Washington in the coming months.

Last week, about 150 officials from Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates attended the American-led Negev Forum summit, created by the Biden administration as it looks to continue progress has been done by the Trump administration on peace efforts between Israel. and his neighbors.

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And while the above countries have normalized ties with Israel, along with Jordan, Amman refuses to participate in the forum while the Palestinians are left out.

But Jordan’s king also raised eyebrows in a recent interview in which he warned of dire consequences if Israel’s far-right government continues its provocative policies in al-Aqsa, Slim said.

In an interview last month with CNN, Abdullah expressed concern about “the next intifada,” which he warned could lead to a complete breakdown of law and order.

In Iraq, McGurk met with Kurdish figures, including Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) President Masoud Barzani, and other officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

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Tensions between the KDP and PUK have been rising, especially after the murder of an intelligence officer with ties to both parties last year.

The US was also concerned about the deteriorating ties between the Kurdish sides, its negative impact on the fight against ISIS, as well as Iran’s ability to exploit those tensions and spread influence.

“Only the US is an acceptable mediator for both Kurdish parties and can help prevent the political tension from turning violent,” Narrow told Al Arabiya English.

Later on Monday, McGurk and Hochstein were scheduled to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudan. Over the weekend, Sudan told the Wall Street Journal that it favored the continued presence of American troops in the country.

Read more: The Iraqi PM says in an interview that he supports the indefinite presence of US troops in the country

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