Never mind ISIS: Your tax dollars are being used to promote TOURISM in this Mideast country

You might recall several months ago when Jordan’s King Abdullah practically had to beg the U.S. to provide more munitions and other weapons in its fight against ISIS. Last February, a memorandum of understanding with Amman was signed allocating significantly greater funds for military aid to Jordan, up to $1 billion for 2015-2017.

In addition, in May, the State Department issued an announcement saying The United States…re-affirmed its strong commitment to the people of Jordan by signing a third sovereign loan guarantee agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The proceeds of the U.S. guaranteed bonds issued pursuant to the agreement will help to ensure that Jordan can continue to provide critical services to its citizens as it hosts the nearly 630,000 refugees registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who have fled the violence in Syria.

Abdullah has said Jordan has a “responsibility to reach out to eastern Syria” and to western Iraq where people have been “executed in large numbers” by ISIS.

“So this is our war,” he said. “We have a moral responsibility to reach out to those Muslims to protect them and stop (ISIS) before they reach our border.”

All of which makes Jordan sound like a PERFECT place for a vacation, don’t you think? Apparently our government does, because 36.1 million of our tax dollars is going to promote tourism in Jordan. Yes. Really.

With an annual budget of $20 billion the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will be spending peanuts really to increase economic growth and job creation and increase tourism.
In a country that borders both Syria and Iraq. With 630,000 refugees. Yep, that makes sense.

Two years ago, USAID had a big project in the West Bank and Gaza strip to assist small and medium sized firms compete globally — also in the area of tourism (along with information technology, agriculture and…stone and marble). Listed as an achievement for this program was the development of a hotel classification system that uses internationally recognized hospitality service standards. Oh yay. Because I was DEFINITELY planning a peaceful getaway to Gaza.

You can read the full report (if you have ten minutes to kill), but I can confirm the program fell short in a number of areas including delayed funding because there’s that little problem of (1) Congressional holds on appropriated funds for the Palestinian Authority and (2) the vetting process required under Mission Order 21, “Anti-Terrorism Procedures.” In addition, the companies receiving assistance didn’t follow environmental guidelines and did not implement a “gender strategy” because cultural biases against women in the Palestinian workforce were not addressed. Tsk. Tsk.

And don’t forget folks, these are YOUR hard-earned tax dollars hard(ly) at work. Ain’t America great?

[NOTE: This article was written by Michele Hickford, Editor-in-Chief]


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