King Abdullah, owing his throne very personally to the CIA as he very well knows, is already protected by a special force of American security personel, much as is Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. With war looming in the region and Israel's desire to make Jordan 'the Palestinian State', his days may well now be numbered.
Shooting of four 'martyrs' sparks anger in Jordan
By Robert Fisk in Beirut
11 November 2002
In the Jordanian city of Maan yesterday, they had four "martyrs" to mourn: Mohammed Khalil Abu Hilala, 17, Mohammed Ahmed Kreishan, 20, and Omar Hamed al-Akaila, 20, and one other, all shot down by the police and army.
The men the army wanted – Mohammed Chalabi, Majdi Kreishan and Omar Abdul-Ghani – were still free men last night. But Maan, a tribal town that opposed the Turks during the Ottoman empire and originally supported the Hashemite monarchy, appeared to be in a state of near-insurrection.
What is going on in Jordan? After the murder of an American diplomat last week, the Jordanians tried to arrest a number of "Islamists" in Maan, including Mr Chalabi, who drove away from police roadblocks and was shot by police while fleeing back to the city.
He subsequently gave an interview to The Independent while recovering at his father's home. Mr Chalabi was last night reported to be in hiding while soldiers and policemen in the city were searching for up to 40 "Islamists".
In Maan, many citizens have guns and the Jordanian government was trying to portray the battle as a conflict between security forces and "armed smugglers". They were accused of smuggling guns and drugs between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, although no proof of this was forthcoming.
Mr Chalabi, according to the Jordanian minister of information, Mohammed Adwan, had been protected by men carrying sub-machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Jordanian forces stormed into the city at midnight on Saturday.
Tribal leaders in Maan said the government had demanded the surrender of the three wanted men on Friday and that the leaders in the city then met to discuss the demand. They decided, in the words of one of them, that "they would prefer to die rather than surrender the men because there would be no fair trial and because the men had committed no crimes." Previously, they said, wanted men had been tortured by the security police.
In January, there was a demonstration in Maan in sympathy with Osama bin Laden, an event not stopped by the security forces, who have hitherto held little control in the city.
Last night, the authorities cut all communication with Maan and ordered journalists to stay away from the city. Six members of the police and army were reported to have been wounded and many civilians hurt, according to hospital officials.
Maan is a deeply conservative Sunni Muslim city whose inhabitants have previously protested at American and British attacks on Iraq.
Washington's threats to invade Iraq have caused great anger in Jordan and have placed King Abdullah in a most sensitive position. Long regarded as one of the West's "best friends" in the Middle East, Jordan has to balance this friendship against a population – more than half of whom are Palestinian – which is strongly opposed to US policies in the region and towards America's unconditional support for Israel.
As the United States continues to amass its forces in the Gulf – and talks about invading Iraq from Jordan – King Abdullah's position grows steadily more difficult. Reports from Washington that his uncle Hassan – crown prince until the dying King Hussain demoted him in 1999 – might be the Americans' preferred monarch for a "new" Iraq have only further embarrassed the monarchy.
When Hassan turned up at an Iraqi opposition meeting in London earlier this year, this provoked an immediate statement in Amman that the prince's visit was "a private affair".
A man trying to cross the Israeli border from Jordan was shot and killed by Jordanian troops yesterday although details of the incident were vague and the identity of the dead man unknown. Jordanians and Israelis have co-operated over the past decade to prevent infiltration by Palestinian guerrillas.
They failed miserably when a Jordanian soldier opened fire on Israeli schoolchildren near the Jordan river, a tragedy which prompted the late King Hussein to pay a personal visit of condolence to the parents.