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Friday, March 21, 2003
 
JORDAN AND THE WAR

Al-Jazeera’s website carries an interesting analysis of the Jordanian position on the Iraqi war. The official government position is that Jordan will not allow the Americans to use its territory or air-space to attack Iraq. This is because strong popular support, based on the notion that the Iraqi’s cause is just and that they have been discriminated against. Popular support for Iraq is partially based upon the 300 million dollars of oil aid with which Iraq annually supports Jordan.

A Jordanian expert cited, former Minister of Science Dr. Hani al-Khasawenah, indicates that Jordan paid a heavy price for its support of Iraq during the previous Gulf War.

Jordan has prepared itself for the current war in several ways. They have allowed hundreds of American soldiers to be stationed in Jordan, and sought to disguise their real numbers and the length of their stay. They have increased security around the embassies of the USA, Britain and Israel. (The article notes Iraqi hostility to Britain dating from the Mandate period.) They have banned protests without prior consent, and even few and paltry demonstrates that are allowed are strictly controlled: participants are not allowed to burn the American flag or to carry pictures of Saddam, so as not to damage the official position built upon strategic relations with America. In recent days, the Jordanian government has banned peaceful demonstrations in support of Iraq and arrested Islamic and Ba’ath activists.

The Jordanians have also set up refugee camps some 213km east of Amman to prevent Iraqi refugees from reaching Jordanian towns and cities as they did in the previous Gulf War.

Finally, the article notes that Jordan has increased its security along the Israeli border, on the pretext of preventing Israel from transferring Palestinians to Jordan. [This is a “straw man” reason; the real reason is probably to prevent Palestinian terrorists from crossing the border and threatening the security of Jordan or Israel. The last thing that Jordan needs at the moment is a regional conflagration.]

The article ends by stating that there is great popular concern that America will succeed in bringing down Saddam’s regime. As ever, the war is described as a huge American plot to gain control of Iraq’s oil, and to gain political supremacy in the region.


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