Jordan unlikely to retaliate against US over Arab Bank case

Former US terrorism finance analyst to "Post”: America will have Jordan’s back regarding this case.

King Abdullah (photo credit: REUTERS)
King Abdullah
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordan is unlikely to retaliate against the US over the federal court verdict on Monday, which found the country’s Arab Bank liable for providing money to Hamas and ruled it must compensate victims of some two dozen attacks by the terrorist group.
Nearly 300 Americans who were either victims or related to victims of attacks linked to Hamas had sued Arab Bank in 2004.
The Jordanian bank said it would appeal the ruling, which is likely to delay any immediate Jordanian retaliatory measures.
However, even if the verdict is upheld, it can be assumed that Jordan would not respond harshly, more than making a token gesture or statement for the masses.
Jordan needs the US more than the US needs Jordan. And the countries’ close ties will probably be able to overcome any bumps on the road.
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former terrorism finance analyst at the US Department of the Treasury, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that there will be concern among the banking community about the practices of Arab Bank, which is essentially the state bank of Jordan.
“The US will undoubtedly go to great lengths to reassure the international community that Jordan’s financial sector is trustworthy and strong,” asserted Schanzer, noting that “Jordan remains a pivotal player in the Middle East, and is shouldering a mighty load with the influx of Syrian refugees.”
Schanzer predicts that “America will have Jordan’s back” regarding this case. Furthermore, he noted that the crime transpired a decade ago, adding that “the bank has had plenty of time to clean up its act.”
“One concern moving forward will be the role of the bank in the provision of financial assistance to Gaza for reconstruction, as the Arab Bank remains the primary conduit for Gaza,” said Schanzer.
“I suspect that the funds will not flow as freely as they did in the past, as Arab Bank seeks to identify vetted parties to accept transactions.”
The US government is concerned about the stability of its Middle East ally, which it sees as a moderating force amid the regional turmoil.
David Schenker, the director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former official dealing with the Middle East for the Pentagon, told the Post earlier this month that he does not think the Salafi/jihadi threat to Jordan is being overhyped.
“Given what’s happening in Syria and Iraq, concerns about the security and stability of Jordan are well warranted,” he said.
Schenker also said that economic troubles could contribute to radicalization.
Under such circumstances, it is doubtful the US – or Israel for that matter – would allow anything to happen that would further destabilize Jordan.
Jordan’s Central Bank stated on Tuesday that it has confidence in Arab Bank’s ability to withstand any possible penalties.
Reuters contributed to this report.