Uniting Jordan and Iraq

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Posted by andreas from p3EE3C244.dip.t-dialin.net ( on Friday, September 27, 2002 at 8:20AM :

Assyrian News Watch
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Assyrian Chaldean Syriac

URL: http://www.stratfor.com
Date: Sept 26, 2002

Uniting Jordan and Iraq Might Be Prime Post-War Strategy


An idea to unite Jordan and Iraq in a pro-U.S. Hashemite
kingdom after a U.S. war is being floated in diplomatic and
opposition circles. The plan could be Washington's best
scenario for ensuring a stable post-war Iraq, but the United
States likely is still weighing the proposal's possible
geopolitical benefits versus its problems and feasibility.


As a U.S. war against Iraq appears to be nearing, both
Washington and Middle Eastern players also are working to make
sure the expected American victory will result in strategic
long-term gains. The idea of a central Iraq populated by Sunni
Arabs joining with Jordan to form one Hashemite kingdom is
being considered as one way to secure such gains.

Such a plan reportedly was discussed at an unusual meeting
between Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and pro-U.S. Iraqi Sunni
opposition members in London last July. In September, Israeli
paper Yedioth Ahronoth stated that the U.S. goal in Iraq was to
create a united Hashemite kingdom embracing Jordan and Iraq's
Sunni areas. Israeli terrorism expert Ehud Sprinzak recently
echoed this sentiment on Russian television Sept. 24.

In a nutshell, the plan may involve uniting Jordan and Sunni-
populated areas of Iraq under the rule of the current Jordanian
regime. This could be done if Iraqi Sunni leaders appeal to
King Abdullah with such a request, which has a weak but still
legally valid justification, as Abdullah is the second cousin
of the last Iraqi king, Faisal II, who was overthrown in 1958.

Who is floating the Iraq-Jordan idea, and who might benefit
from its realization if it ever comes through? Although it
might be wishful thinking by some Iraqi opposition members and
Israeli media, it also could bring strategic benefits to the
United States, Israel and Jordan.

Possible Gains for the United States

Sprinzak stated that the authors of a "Hashemite plan" are U.S.
Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz, both considered the most hawkish of Bush
administration officials. Russian television program "Drugoye
Vremya" also reports that it was U.S. officials who twice
invited Hassan to meet the Iraqi opposition last summer.

The fact that the Western-based Iraqi opposition completely
depends on Washington supports these allegations. And
Washington showed much interest in the Jordan-Iraqi opposition
talks in which the Hashemite idea was discussed.
The administration may be looking into the proposal because the
current goal of replacing Saddam Hussein with a pro-U.S. Iraqi
government still would not guarantee long-term U.S. control
over the territory and its oil. First, it may become too hard
for a new government in Baghdad to effectively control the
whole country, even with U.S. troop support. An example is
Afghanistan, in which the government of President Hamid Karzai
still controls only the capital.

Second, the new government's attempts to establish control over
all of Iraq may well lead to a civil war between Sunni, Shia
and Kurdish ethnic groups, with U.S. troops caught in the
middle. The fiercest fighting could be expected for control
over the oil facilities.

But uniting Jordan and Iraq under a Hashemite government may
give Washington several strategic advantages. First, the
creation of a new pro-U.S. kingdom under the half-American
Abdullah would shift the balance of forces in the region
heavily in the U.S. favor. After eliminating Iraq as a
sovereign state, there would be no fear that one day an anti-
American government would come to power in Baghdad, as the
capital would be in Amman. Current and potential U.S.
geopolitical foes Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria would be left
isolated from each other, with big chunks of land between them
under control of the pro-U.S. forces.

Equally important, Washington would be able to justify its
long-term and heavy military presence in the region as
necessary for the defense of a young new state asking for U.S.
protection -- and to secure the stability of oil markets and
supplies. That in turn would help the United States gain direct
control of Iraqi oil and replace Saudi oil in case of conflict
with Riyadh.

As discussed in the Israeli media, the richest oil areas would
go not to the Hashemite kingdom but to a widely autonomous
Kurdish region that still could be formally a part of the
Hashemite state. To make sure the Kurds will not upset U.S.
ally Turkey by declaring an independent state, Washington would
be able to deploy its forces into the Kurdish region, with new
bases located just next to oil fields in areas such as Kirkuk.

Washington then would be able to offer the new Hashemite
kingdom as a model for other Arab states, combining what the
Arab masses see as the advantages of a traditional monarchy
with the benefits of a U.S. alliance. The potential combination
of educated Iraqis, U.S. aid and military assistance, and oil
revenues might help the new state become a beacon for the Arab
world to follow.

Were more states to adopt this example, the geopolitical
influence of both Saudi Arabia and Egypt would decline, making
it easier for Washington to deal with them. In case of a future
conflict with Saudi Arabia or Iran, U.S. forces would be in the
ideal position to strike not only from sea but also from land
by using new bases in the Hashemite kingdom and the Kurdish

Possible Benefits for Israel and Jordan

The interest of Israeli experts and media to the Jordan-Iraq
plan could be explained by the benefits Israel may get if the
plan goes through. Iraq, arguably Israel's most determined foe,
would be eliminated. Baghdad's end would deprive the
Palestinians of much financial and other assistance, which
could reduce the effectiveness of attacks against the Jewish

King Abdullah would vastly expand his role and prominence in
the region with a joint Hashemite state, becoming the second-
most important U.S. ally after Israel. In addition to his huge
territorial gains, he also would get a chunk of Iraqi oil. And
Palestinians, who currently make up half of Jordan's
population, would become a minority in the new state, with much
less potential to stir up trouble.

Major Consideration Still Ahead

The plan may not be free of negative consequences for
Washington, however. Iraq's Shia majority -- whose anti-Hussein
opposition seems currently divided between the United States
and Iran -- probably would not agree to become a part of the
new kingdom. Iran may interfere by urging Iraqi Shias to join
with Tehran. Washington might counter by agreeing to attach the
Shia Iraqi region to Kuwait, Israeli media speculates. Turkey,
despite a U.S. military presence in Kurdish areas, still might
have reservations about the plan. Finally, it is unclear how
Sunni tribal and other leaders inside Iraq would react.

At this point, it does not seem that any decision has been
made. Even if Washington did opt for a Jordan-Iraq plan, it
would not make this goal public until Hussein was overthrown in
order to secure Arab and Turkish support of the war, however
half-hearted it would be.

-- andreas
-- signature .

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