Leyne on US-Jordan Relations

Great Moments in Punditry

Of all America’s allies in the Arab world, Jordan must surely be one of the closest and most trusted – or so it seemed until recently.

But all that has changed, and King Abdullah’s government does not seem to know what to do about it.

Things came to a head after an incident in Salt – a small town just outside the capital with a reputation for sending its sons to take part in the Iraqi insurgency.

Last month the family of one of them, Raed al-Banna, held three days of mourning following his death as a suicide bomber in Iraq.

It was thought, probably wrongly, that he carried out the massacre in Hilla in which 125 people died.

The event caused a rupture in Jordan’s relations with Iraq and led the US to question if Jordan really was such a reliable ally. [read more]

I don’t think this article is very fair…

First I’m reading the title of the article: “Jordan fears loss of US favor” and I’m thinking something big has happened while I was sleeping. Then the opening lines ensured that thought: “Of all America’s allies in the Arab world, Jordan must surely be one of the closest and most trusted – or so it seemed until recently.”

So what the hell happened between the US and Jordan while I was sleeping?!

Then he just goes on to summarize for us the past events of last March of which have little or nothing to do with the US-Jordan relationship in my opinion. You have the Al-Ghad fiasco over the Hilla bombings, the failed Peace initiative and the Shia Crescent comments. How this has anything to do with US-Jordanian relations I do not know, as all of these events effected Jordan primarily on a domestic level and hardly made a ripple in international waters.

How Leyne manages to know what America is thinking of Jordan, I do not know either. How you go from presenting events occurring within one month to the conclusion: “led the US to question if Jordan really was such a reliable ally”

Flaws in his article:

The Hilla bombing effected the Iraqi-Jordanian relationship as Leyne admits: “The event caused a rupture in Jordan’s relations with Iraq”. How did this effect the US-Jordanian relations?

As for the Peace Initiative: “The idea appeared to offer normalisation with Israel in return for practically nothing, and other Arab countries rejected it out of hand”. This comment makes me wonder if Leyne read the original Arabic version of the initiative which had a remarkable resemblance to the one the Saudis drew up a few years ago. I wonder why that is? Hmm. Apparently when things “appear to” then fact checking is no longer a requirement. Nonetheless this event, based more or less on a lack of communication on the Jordanian foreign minister’s part, effected Arab-Jordan relations briefly, so again I’m questioning, where does America come into play? Why are they frowning at Jordan?

One of my favorite parts: “The US still declares its friendship with Jordan. But the signals of a change of mood are there for all to see.” Really? I’m sorry, I’ve been really busy with exams and all but if anyone can fill me in on what signals America has been so clearly sending to Jordan I’d really like to know.

And of course the article is filled with such objective sources on Jordanian political development, such as the infamous so-called “Prince of Darkness” in right-wing America, Richard Perle. Fanatically comparing Jordan to Egypt? To Saudi Arabia? Are you kidding me? Not only are they not in the same ball park but is this really the guy we’re going to go with when it comes to US policy in its relations with Jordan?

Hersh’s (the new yorker) article, “Lunch with the Chairman,” discussed possible conflicts of interest resulting from Perle’s dual role as chairman of the Defense Policy Board and as a partner for Trireme, a company that invests in homeland security and defense-related industries. Hersh recounts how Perle met with Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi arms dealer, and another Saudi businessman in early 2003. Various people interviewed by Hersh, including Khashoggi, indicated that Perle and Trireme seemed to be sending the message that in return for Saudi investment backing, the “Chairman” would use his Pentagon connections to influence U.S. policy. [source]

Talk about the US sending the wrong “signals”.

The ironic part of the article is what he says about the Jordan press. “Gagging the Press” he says. Yet he fails to note that the freedom that was slowly being granted to the press was abruptly abused when Al Ghad published an article about the Hilla bombings and the so-called celebration for the Jordanian martyr. He fails to even mention that it was mainly their responsibility for the cause of the Iraqi-Jordanian rift which is on its way to being mended. Imagine, one article causes so many problems with Iraqi-Jordanian relations, it might lead one to wonder: does Jordan possibly have a call for concern when it comes to press articles “that might harm relations with an Arab or friendly government”? He also fails to note that despite our less than appealing press record of the past and the fact that what occurred last month was probably Jordan’s biggest Press fiasco ever, the King still went ahead to encourage the press and make public strides for the new government to accommodate them.

Leyne goes on to talk about lack of political reform based on the recent events (once again) concerning the unions/professional associations versus the government, failing to note the encouragement of participation in the political parties of Jordan and the re-aligning of the socio-political paradigm.

Here is an older article by Leyne concerning Jordan and Israel relations:

According to one set of figures, 74% of Jordanians supported the peace treaty in 1994. In a poll conducted in 1999 and 2000, 80% opposed it and considered Israel the enemy.

Opinion polls tend to be unreliable in the Arab world.

Jordanian analysts suspect the support was never that strong.

Opposition to Israel amongst most Jordanians is now overwhelming. [source]

Why mention a poll as a fact to support your arguement and then claim that polls in the arab world are unreliable?

I’m thinking now, maybe Leyne has a bone to pick with Jordan. Maybe he tried to get a phone line and it took him a few months to get one. Maybe the Internet connections are too slow. Maybe his information comes from the rants of an Amman taxi driver. Whatever it is, I find it lacking and a cause to question either his underlying intentions or at the very least, his sources.

Your Two Piasters: