The Visit of His Majesty King Abdullah II to France: Timing and Indications
Position Assessment | This paper addresses the visit of His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein to France, on the fourteenth of September 2022, and also the most important issues of common interest.
by Hazem Salem Dmour
- Release Date – Sep 20, 2022
The visit of His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan to France on September 14, 2022, had a lot of importance by virtue of the strategic relations between the Hashemite Kingdom and the French Republic on one hand and by virtue of the timing that comes in regional and international conditions of tension and instability on the other hand. Therefore, this visit carried a lot of indications that require consideration.
The strategic relations between Jordan and France date back to 1948 with the first diplomatic representation between Amman and Paris. King Abdullah II was the first Arab leader received by French President Emmanuel Macron after his 2017 election, and His Majesty’s recent visit is his eighth visit to France since that initial meeting. The relations between Jordan and France cover all areas of economic and cultural development.
The value of French investments in several vital economic sectors in Jordan exceeded 1.5 billion euros, in addition to the 1 billion euros provided in soft loans and grants every three years through the French Development Agency. The two countries are also related through cultural, scientific, and technical cooperation agreements since 1965. Founding the French International School in Amman 2013 was an advanced step towards strengthening the relations of cultural cooperation between the two countries.
Timing and Significant Issues
His Majesty King Abdullah II’s visit to France comes at a critical time:
- Ahead of His Majesty delivering a speech addressing the seventy-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York;
- Weeks after the French president’s speech at the annual conference of French ambassadors in which he related His Majesty’s call for a second Baghdad summit; and,
- Two months after individual visits to France by a group of Arab leaders, including King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; and the presidents of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority.
King Abdullah’s visit also comes in light of complex regional and international situations at the political, security, and economic levels that have a direct impact on Jordan, especially combating terrorism; the Palestinian cause; the Iranian nuclear issue; the Syrian, Lebanese, and Iraqi crises; and the challenges of the food crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine.
Regarding counterterrorism, Jordan has a central geopolitical position in regional and international efforts aimed at combating terrorism and maintaining the security and stability of the region. Its geopolitical status demonstrates the importance of the ongoing Jordanian-French cooperation that was highlighted in the active French participation at the international counterterrorism meetings in Aqaba in December 2017, as well as in the facilities provided by Jordan to French aircraft during its campaigns against the terrorist organization ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The threats posed by terrorist groups, as well as organized crime and drug trafficking groups, are persistent. Therefore, it was important to strengthen the areas of Jordanian cooperation in confronting these threats at the regional and international levels since France has great security expertise, especially in the Syrian and Lebanese issues.
Concerning the issue of the Palestinian cause, its strategic status is crystal clear for Jordan as well as the fact that is going through its most difficult stages. In the absence of any political solutions on the horizon, the decline in the chances of a two-state solution and the increasing likelihood of military escalation in the West Bank may extend their impacts beyond the Palestinian territories and Israel. The French political positions, consistent with the Jordanian positions, are very clear: both countries and the European Union must play a more effective role in resolving the Palestinian issue.
The French-Jordanian position on the Palestinian cause remains committed to the two-state solution and rejects any change in the historical status of Jerusalem city and its holy sites that might be made by Israel. King Abdullah underscored this shared position during his meeting last March with the French president by affirming “the need to achieve a comprehensive and just peace based on the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.” In addition, His Majesty emphasized “the need to ensure the participation of Palestinians in regional economic projects and to warn against the continuation of unilateral Israeli measures which undermine the chances of achieving peace, posing the region to more violence.”
As for the Iranian nuclear issue, it is considered of great importance in the course of Jordanian-French strategic relations. The two sides share an approach that warns of the failure of international negotiations on this issue, and also the serious repercussions of that failure on the region and the world in light of a Jordanian foreign policy that is keen to establish good relations with Iran based on mutual respect, respect for the sovereignty of states, and non-interference in their internal affairs.
Besides, the Syrian, Lebanese, and Iraqi issues are no less important than the rest of other issues, in light of the Jordanian position calling for the need to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis, that preserves the unity of Syria’s land and people, and guarantees the voluntary and safe return of refugees; the importance of continuing efforts to support Lebanon’s stability; and the need to preserve Iraq’s security and stability to spare the region any threat to its security and stability.
In addition to these important issues, the two leaders discussed the challenges of the food crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine. His Majesty declared “Jordan’s readiness to cooperate with the European Union countries in facing the challenge of food security and mitigating its repercussions on the world through the (FARM) initiative launched by the European Union to increase agricultural production.” In turn, Macron affirmed “France’s support for Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries in the face of the food crisis caused by the conflict in Ukraine.”
Regional Stakes and the Second Baghdad Conference
The issues surrounding His Majesty King Abdullah II’s visit to France—especially the Iranian nuclear issue, combating terrorism, and the situation in Iraq—intensified the gains of that visit, which resulted a joint call between Amman and Paris to hold a news conference “as soon as possible” on the stakes of the Middle East. This unified call for action is similar to the Baghdad conference held in August 2021, which was successful by virtue of the regional participation in it for opening up prospects of dialogue between the Arab Gulf states and Iran in particular.
The new conference is slated to be hosted by the Jordanian capital of Amman. If held, it will constitute an important enhancement of Jordan’s regional role, a success for Jordanian diplomacy, an opportunity to ease tension, and an important contribution in resolving the region’s political and security crises in particular.
To conclude, His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein’s recent visit to France is a further step forward in a long road. All its gains may not directly or indirectly appear the near term, however, it gives credence to Jordan’s central role in the Middle East region and the international appreciation of that role. It also establishes a new stage in the strategic partnership between Amman and Paris and the continuation of joint action to address the security and economic challenges facing the region and the world at large.
Hazem Salem Dmour
General Manager / Specialized Researcher in International Relations and Strategic Studies