AP's 5 things to know about Jordan

AP News
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Posted: Feb 04, 2015 8:20 AM
AP's 5 things to know about Jordan

The gruesome burning death of a Jordanian pilot by Islamic State extremists has delivered a devastating blow to Jordan. Here are five things to know about this Mideast country:

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KEY WESTERN BULWARK IN MIDEAST

The Hashemite Arab kingdom is a key Western ally and source of moderation in an unstable region. Following the pilot's slaying, Jordan's King Abdullah II reaffirmed his nation's commitment to the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group.

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VOLATILE BORDERS WITH IRAQ AND SYRIA

Jordan borders two of the region's biggest trouble spots, Iraq and Syria, including areas controlled by Islamic State. It has absorbed millions of Syrian refugees and has worked with the United States to help train pro-Western rebel groups in Syria.

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QUIET BUT TIGHT RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL

After Egypt, Jordan in 1994 became the second Arab country to make peace with Israel, and today the two neighbors maintain a quiet but tight relationship. The two countries border both Syria and the West Bank, and share a lengthy border of their own. They share intelligence on common threats, including the militant Palestinian group Hamas, as well as Islamic State and other hostile rebel groups in Syria. Israel also provides technological backing to Jordan.

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BACKER OF ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE TALKS

Jordan's population is well over 50 percent Palestinian, giving the kingdom a special role in Palestinian politics. It is a strong supporter of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, an important backer of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and frequently serves as a mediator at times of heightened tensions.

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CUSTODIAN OF JERUSALEM HOLY SITES

Jordan controlled east Jerusalem and its sensitive holy sites until Israel captured the area in the 1967 Mideast war. But under their 1994 peace agreement, Jordan remains the custodian over Muslim holy sites in the city. In this role, Jordan last year used its influence to reduce tensions between Israelis and Palestinians at the city's most sensitive holy site, briefly recalling its ambassador from Israel to protest Israel actions there.