Jordan promises discreet co-operation with the US

31 January 2003
Jordan will allow the US to man its air defences, use its airspace, and launch search and rescue mission from its territory in the event of war on Iraq, according to Jordanian officials quoted in the Washington Post on 30 January. Although the co-operation will be limited and discreet, it remains a significant departure from King Hussein's neutrality during the 1990-91 Gulf war. The kingdom is in a precarious position, dependent on its alliance with the US, with whom it has a free trade agreement, but the neighbour and main trading partner of Iraq, from whom it imports all its oil at a discounted price. Like Turkey, Jordan is looking for an aid package from the US to compensate for economic losses, and the US has asked Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia to help meet the oil shortfall. The Jordanian public is also deeply opposed to an American attack.

The quoted officials said that an invasion could not be launched from Jordan and no US troops would be formally deployed, but that otherwise the kingdom would be co-operative. 'Definitely, we will be helpful,' the official said. 'But we cannot, say, bring 10,000 troops and march from Jordan to Iraq. That would be disastrous and the Americans appreciate this.' Head of US Central Command, General Tommy Franks, met last week with King Abdullah and Jordanian Chief of Staff, General Khaled Sarayrah. Jordan is seeking Patriot air defence batteries from the US, which would require hundreds of US troops in the country to run them: the US believes that eight of the 39 scud missiles Saddam Hussein fired at Israel during the previous conflict actually landed in remore parts of Jordan.

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