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Jordan a key player in US security?

The bombing of a CIA base highlights country's importance to US intelligence gathering.

“The main goal for Jordan’s diplomacy and activity abroad — in the region and around the world — is to protect its economic and security interests,” said Ihmod Abu Salim, a professor of political science at Mu’tah University in Karak, Jordan. “It’s not acting on behalf of the Western countries or the United States. Now, the whole world cooperates with each other in war against terrorism.”

The CIA has a long history of cultivating relationships with local intelligence agencies, as it has with Jordan. In exchange for funding and access to advanced technology, the CIA often gets access to a local agencies’ human resources that it couldn’t cultivate on its own.

“These local agencies have things that they can lend, as far as cultural understanding, language abilities, demographics, that the CIA doesn’t have,” said Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical intelligence at STRATFOR, a global intelligence company.

While the CIA’s funding of foreign intelligence agencies has come under close scrutiny and some attack in recent years, Stewart said there is usually a relatively even exchange with both agencies benefiting from the agreement.

Additionally, as the U.S. works to pursue groups such as Al Qaeda, well-trained local intelligence agencies are playing an increasingly important role in helping the U.S.

“This is not by any stretch of the imagination any symbolic relationship, specifically when you talk about Jordan,” said Richard Russell, a former CIA analyst and professor of national security affairs at the National Defense University. Jordan’s intelligence agency is widely looked upon as one of the most advanced in the region, said Russell, and it is capable of providing the U.S. with indispensable assistance.

Aside from sharing many common enemies with the U.S., Jordan also has an interest in maintaining close ties with the U.S. because it is one of the largest per capita recipients of U.S. aid in the world.

“Jordan isn’t the only close ally of the U.S. in the region and has an obvious interest in trying to demonstrate that it can be a more valuable partner for the U.S. in areas of direct interest to the U.S. than other allies in the region,” said Mouin Rabbani, a contributing editor to Middle East Report who is based in Amman, Jordan.