Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jordanians panic over Shi'as and Iran...

From today's Wall Street Journal:

Jordanian officials have suggested that if Iraq were
to fall into a full-out civil war, Jordan would push
troops to the border, and possibly across it, as far
west as Rutbah about 80 miles inside Iraq, to stem an
expected flow of Sunni refugees, says a U.S. military
planner who recently met with leaders in the region.

"The danger is that if the Jordanians carve out a
security zone or buffer zone inside Iraq, that the
Syrians, Saudis and Turks will all follow," says the
military planner. The Syrians could move into western
Nineveh province, while the Turks could send troops to
protect the Sunni Turkmen population in the north, he
says.

Jordanian officials say they are driven by two main
concerns. The first is that Sunnis fleeing Shiite
oppression could turn Amman into the center of Sunni
resistance against the Shiite-dominated government in
Baghdad. Already the Jordanian capital is home to
about 900,000 Iraqis, who make up as much as 15% of
the population. The Jordanians worry that Iraq's
Shiite militias could send small teams of militants to
Amman to launch assassination campaigns or terror
attacks against the Sunni insurgency.

"We have quite enough instability in Jordan as it is,"
says one senior Jordanian official.

Jordan's other big fear is shared by the U.S.'s other
Sunni allies throughout the region -- that an Iraqi
Shiite government closely allied with Iran could
dominate the region. Jordan is one of the most
uniformly Sunni countries in the Gulf. But when U.S.
military officials visited the region recently, their
Jordanian counterparts described with alarm how 200 of
their Sunni citizens had converted to Shia Islam in
recent months. The Jordanians said the converts were
motivated by the Shiite-dominated Hezbollah's tough
stand against Israel over the summer and the growing
power of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq.

"It seems preposterous, but it shows how
hyper-reactive they are to it," says the U.S. military
planner.

A huge challenge for the U.S. is that many of its
Sunni allies in the region already view the current
situation in Iraq as a defeat for their cause and a
near-complete victory for Iran. "They refer to the
Shiite Islamic parties in Iraq as the Persians," the
military planner says, using the historical term for
Persian-speaking Iranians.

But others are saying that the Jordanian leadership is quickly reconciling itself to the 'Shi'a Crescent' and now considers its pro-Sunni approach to Iraq to have been a mistake. This WSJ story may be correct, or it may have gone stale if indeed the Jordanian position on the matter has already shifted.

[Full text of the WSJ story posted in the comments section]

2 Comments:

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Wall Street Journal

If Iraq Worsens, Allies See 'Nightmare' Case

By NEIL KING JR. and GREG JAFFE
January 9, 2007; Page A1

Contingency Plans

Arab governments are putting in place their own
contingency plans in case Iraq begins to fall apart.

The Saudis have warned the Bush administration that
they are prepared to aid the Sunni militias in Iraq if
the Sunni population there becomes imperiled, a Saudi
diplomat said. Jordanian officials have told the
Pentagon that they may move troops into Iraq's
uninhabited western desert as a buffer if events there
spiral out of control, according to U.S. military
officials.

High-level Arab officials have been warning for months
that if left unchecked, the current slide into chaos
in Iraq could spark a regional sectarian clash,
according to U.S. and Arab diplomats. They have begun
to share their contingency plans with top U.S.
officials, in part because they hope to jolt the Bush
administration into taking stronger action in Iraq and
to secure the continued presence of U.S. troops there.

Jordanian officials have suggested that if Iraq were
to fall into a full-out civil war, Jordan would push
troops to the border, and possibly across it, as far
west as Rutbah about 80 miles inside Iraq, to stem an
expected flow of Sunni refugees, says a U.S. military
planner who recently met with leaders in the region.

"The danger is that if the Jordanians carve out a
security zone or buffer zone inside Iraq, that the
Syrians, Saudis and Turks will all follow," says the
military planner. The Syrians could move into western
Nineveh province, while the Turks could send troops to
protect the Sunni Turkmen population in the north, he
says.

Jordanian officials say they are driven by two main
concerns. The first is that Sunnis fleeing Shiite
oppression could turn Amman into the center of Sunni
resistance against the Shiite-dominated government in
Baghdad. Already the Jordanian capital is home to
about 900,000 Iraqis, who make up as much as 15% of
the population. The Jordanians worry that Iraq's
Shiite militias could send small teams of militants to
Amman to launch assassination campaigns or terror
attacks against the Sunni insurgency.

"We have quite enough instability in Jordan as it is,"
says one senior Jordanian official.

Jordan's other big fear is shared by the U.S.'s other
Sunni allies throughout the region -- that an Iraqi
Shiite government closely allied with Iran could
dominate the region. Jordan is one of the most
uniformly Sunni countries in the Gulf. But when U.S.
military officials visited the region recently, their
Jordanian counterparts described with alarm how 200 of
their Sunni citizens had converted to Shia Islam in
recent months. The Jordanians said the converts were
motivated by the Shiite-dominated Hezbollah's tough
stand against Israel over the summer and the growing
power of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq.

"It seems preposterous, but it shows how
hyper-reactive they are to it," says the U.S. military
planner.

A huge challenge for the U.S. is that many of its
Sunni allies in the region already view the current
situation in Iraq as a defeat for their cause and a
near-complete victory for Iran. "They refer to the
Shiite Islamic parties in Iraq as the Persians," the
military planner says, using the historical term for
Persian-speaking Iranians.

In recent weeks, some of the U.S. allies in the Gulf
have quietly advocated breaking up the Iraqi
government in favor of a military dictatorship,
governed by a secular Shiite, a Sunni and a Kurd,
according to the military planner. The military
dictatorship would rule until the country could be
stabilized and new elections held. Religious parties,
like those that currently dominate Iraqi politics,
would be banned from participating in future
elections.

U.S. officials have ruled out such an option, saying
that it runs contrary to their desire to bring
democracy to Iraq and that it would never be accepted
by Iraq's Shiites, who are already largely in control.

1:54 PM, January 09, 2007

 
Anonymous Mal3oon said...

The Jordanian leadership is trash. Hey, I have an idea... instead of sending their donkeys, I mean troops, all the way to Rutbah, why don't they stop occupying the strip of land in western Iraq that their gawad Saddam gave them for playing nice with him?

7:59 AM, January 11, 2007

 

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