This post was written by Hatchet reporter Hanna Willwerth
With her country embroiled in a nearby civil war in Syria, the first female ambassador from Jordan told a packed room of about 50 students and professors Tuesday that the country was dependent on its relationship with the U.S. to help support the growing number of Syrian refugees.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Alia Bouran’s hour-and-a-half-long talk:
1. Consequences of the Syrian crisis
Some 600,000 refugees have fled to Jordan since the crisis began, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees there to 1.3 million, in addition to millions of Iraqis and Palestinians. The refugee crisis has strained Jordanian resources and infrastructure, but most Syrians view their support as a source of national pride, Bouran said.
“You know that they fled danger, torture, rape and death to take shelter here in Jordan, so this is sympathy, this is something we take pride in,” Bouran said.
2. Jordan’s key relationship with the U.S.
The two countries have had a long-standing relationship that helped Jordan support refugees after the crisis in Syria broke out. Bouran said Jordan was able to “shoulder this mighty responsibility” because of support from the U.S.
The Jordanian government will use U.S. loans to invest in human capital, sustainable energy and new infrastructure, Bouran said. One plan looks to connect the Red Sea to the Dead Sea to produce electricity for desalination.
3. A focus on diplomacy
Bouran said peacefully reaching a solution would be key to resolving civil war in Syria. Jordan will continue to encourage combatants in the Syrian civil war to participate in international peace conferences to come to a solution, she said.
4. Advocating for a two-state solution
To resolve the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian border dispute, Bouran advocated for a two-state solution. She said Jordan’s location, which borders both Israel and the West Bank, means the country is a key stakeholder in the peace process.
“This is the future of the Middle East. No other solution will provide Israel the security or give the Palestinians the state that they need,” she said.
5. A unique experience in the Arab Spring
While there were many demonstrations in Jordan during the Arab Spring, the country did not spiral into conflict or unrest like other countries. The Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization for international politics, has ranked Jordan as “not free” – which Bouran disputed.
“There were [11,000] demonstrations but no deaths, no shots. Police went unarmed and gave protesters water and juices so they could express ideas freely,” Bouran said about the conflicts.