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Jordanian anger at US ambassador's undiplomatic language Open in fullscreen

Paul McLoughlin

Jordanian anger at US ambassador's undiplomatic language

Wells came under attack from Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 June, 2015

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Blog: The US ambassador to Jordan is facing flak for suggesting that the kingdom should have closer links with Israel.
The US ambassador to Jordan is rarely a popular figure in the country.

It was a particularly stormy week for Ambassador Alice Wells after she faced a barrage of criticism for recent controversial comments.

At a lecture this week, Wells attracted the wrath of the media for suggesting that Jordan should improve its economic ties with neighbouring Israel.

Although Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994, ties between the two countries is still a taboo issue.

In the speech, Wells observed that war in the region had disrupted trade with Jordan's traditional partners, and that the kingdom should look for alternative economic partners. Israel was obviously the country she was alluding to.

"When I arrived, I was shocked to learn that the West Bank does $4 billion worth of trade with Israel each year, but only $100 million with Jordan. Although many Jordanian trucks meet Israeli standards, they cannot cross the border, and businessmen have difficulty getting Israeli visas," she said.

In May, the ambassador also ruffled feathers by attended an event in Amman to celebrate international day against homophobia and transphobia organised by Middle East gay magazine MyKali.

Gay Star News reported that Tariq Abu al-Ragheb, a Jordanian lawyer, filed a case against Wells saying that there was "a breach of public order and the constitution" accusing the embassy of setting up a meeting to promote the rights of "gays and homosexuals".

On 10 June, Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood also charged into the fray and accused the US ambassador of "interfering in Jordan's internal affairs".

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