King Abdullah II made his people an extraordinary promise last week: For every job the government offered Syrian refugees, it would create five jobs for Jordanians.
But officials had previously pledged to create 200,000 jobs for Syrians, so the king’s promise means that the government will have to create 1.2 million jobs. That task, daunting for any large, industrialized country, will be nearly impossible for tiny Jordan, with a population of 7.5 million and an unemployment rate hovering around 22 percent.
Jawad Anani, a Jordanian economist and senator, said King Abdullah’s words were probably intended only to “comfort” Jordanians and not to be taken literally. Even so, the pledge was a recognition of the pressures on Jordan’s leaders as they hear appeals from a public overwhelmed by the refugees and from European nations urging Jordan to integrate the Syrians and deter them from heading to Western shores.