2011-02-19 #Jordan: The industry of war in the Middle East

A recent cable, from 2010, announces: “Jordan continues to face some of the most troubling challenges of King Abdullah's 10-year reign.¨ These problems are a deficit of USD 1.43 billion, unstable regional politics, originated from the continuous privilege of rural communities in the East Bank over urban communities with larger Palestinian populations, rigged elections and unequal political rights (09AMMAN813). The cables also reveal that this inequality is created by the government and pushed through by force: “The King's economic and political changes face domestic opposition from tribal leaders and an array of entrenched East Bank interests. The latter include many in the military, security services, and bureaucracy, who enjoy a disproportionate share of the current system”. (10AMMAN329).

According Amman News, Secretary General of the Popular Unity Party Saeed Dhiyab stated that “the clashes were instigated by a group of hooligans, and charged that security forces condoned the violence by not intervening to break out the fights”. The current unrest in Jordan seems to be -once again-, the response of the population towards a whole history of repression and injustice practiced by its government. The clashes started on the 18th of February in the capital, Amman, between protestors calling for political and economic reform, and a group for "Loyalty and Belonging" to King Abdullah II. The clash produced an unconfirmed number of victims. Foreign journalists reported violent threats to confiscate their cameras and the media is still gagged by the government.

Despite its delicate economic situation, Jordan continues to seek participation in OEF or "Operation Enduring Freedom" (OEF is the official name used by the U.S. Government for the War in Afghanistan). The cables reveal, however, that military and political activism in Afghanistan is a juicy source of income for the country’s economy. A cable from 2010 attests that “Over the course of the next six months, seven additional BCT [Brigade combat team Modernization is the U.S. Army's main modernization program] sets of equipment are scheduled to transit Jordan en route to the port of Aqaba and ultimately to the U.S. Redeployment represents a significant boon to the Jordanian economy: $15.1M in 2009”. (10AMMAN329).

In a meeting in 2010 in Washington, “Jordanians [were] expected to offer significant increases to Jordan's security support in Afghanistan in exchange for additional economic assistance through an anticipated Afghanistan supplemental appropriation”. (10AMMAN219). In a summary, 2009, wrote by Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft to Jordan, it was expected “the Jordanians would likely accept reimbursement at cost for any additional contributions we do want¨. (09AMMAN813).

The population never agreed with Jordan´s participation in the Afghanistan War. The Government has systematically refused to attend popular demands on the matter and called on them to support the War on Terror. What most people did not know is that the Jordanian Army never stopped supporting their country´s role in the War, but only for economic reasons: “Despite the recent suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan, the resulting press reporting regarding Jordan's role in Afghanistan, and domestic public pressures on Jordan to end its security cooperation with the U.S., the Jordanians will make significant offers to increase their assistance during the Washington visit” (09AMMAN813). In 2010 the Ambassador in 2010 Amman stated that, “Jordanian government officials have privately reiterated the commitment to maintaining their relationship with us, highlighting their deployments in Afghanistan and elsewhere” (10AMMAN219)

Jordanian interests in war were also expressed in a dialogue with the ex-president Zeid Rifai, who “predicted that dialogue with Iran will lead nowhere, arguing that if the U.S., the EU, and the Arab states agree that under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, military force becomes the only option. "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter," was how he put it to visiting NEA DAS David Hale in November [2009]”. (09AMMAN813)

Cable 10AMMAN329 says: “In May, [2010] Jordan completed a donation of 10 M60 tanks to Lebanon, funded by UAE. Jordan delivered to Yemen 25 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers in response to a request from State Department, funded by UAE. Jordan has offered to assist with other deployments, counter-piracy missions, and to host training courses and exercises for Iraqi, Lebanese, and other forces, but remains dependent on external financial support to fund its contributions”.

Significantly cable 10AMMAN459 from 2010 enthusiastically states that“JAF [Jordanian Forces] leaders have intimated that they would advocate even larger-scale deployments (a brigade), if the pay/entitlement expense were not so burdensome. In fact, during the Joint Military Commission in November 2009, MG Mash'al Al Zaben, Chief of Staff for Strategy, stated that Jordan would stay in Afghanistan until the last U.S. soldier came home”.

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