WHO GETS JORDAN? ARAFAT OR SYRIA?
by Emanuel A. Winston
Prior to the death of King Hussein of Jordan, I published 4 articles which forecast a Palestinian Revolution in Jordan triggered by Yassir Arafat. I believed that sometime after the death of the King, Arafat would opt for a chance to have a full state by taking over Jordan plus whatever he could squeeze out of Israel. (1)
A recent report by Steve Rodan further convinces me that Arafat will be forced to advance that time table as follows: Rodan reports that King Hussein's son, Abdullah - the new young King, is merely nothing more that a boy trying to occupy a throne far too big for him in "The New Middle East" of wily dictators. The pro-Syrian Jordanian advisor, Abdul Karim Kabariti, who persuaded King Abdullah to keep Prince Hassan (King Hussein's brother) out of power was now directing the boy King into the hands of Assad of Syria. Prince Hassan was pro-Western, deeply experienced in Jordanian foreign affairs and regarded Israel as a valuable asset in keeping Syria from again attempting to absorb Jordan (as Assad had tried in 1970). Kabariti is steering King Abdullah toward relying upon Syria as a counter-balance to the dominant Palestinian population of Jordan (approximately 70%+).
King Abdullah visited Syria in May and signed agreements for the release of Jordanian prisoners in Syrian jails and for the supply of 8 million cubic meters of water during the summer months - 2 very powerful bribes for favoring Syria over Israel and the West. The price is full coordination with Syria and asking Syrian permission for anything regarding Israel. Syria has insisted on a downgrading of Jordan's defense relations with Israel. In addition to these Syrian contacts, Jordan's accent these days is on building links with the Palestinian authority. (2) This puts Jordan between dilemmas. If Abdullah drifts over to Syria, it will be absorbed - just as was Lebanon. If it distances itself from Israel, it will lose the protector who has kept it out of Syrian control.
Israel could not allow a Syrian-controlled Jordan on her longest border. Meanwhile, Arafat and his Palestinians - who want Jordan as a full state of their own - will be pushed to start their own coup/revolution earlier as they see Syria moving to control Jordan through King Abdullah. Arafat knows that once the Syrians have control, there is no way for them to defeat the Syrian military. Unlike Israel, who they discovered could easily be pushed around, the Syrians would like nothing better than to massacre the Palestinian population and be rid of that problem for all time. Of all the factions in the Middle East, the Palestinians are the most astute and aggressively motivated to seek power and hegemony.
Therefore, shortly after the Palestinians, with Clinton's assistance, force Israel to give up her defensive high ground, they will start implementing a coup de stat against the boy King Abdullah.
Israel, under Ehud Barak and a pacifistic government will be busy trying to keep the peace along her now porous borders as the local Palestinians and Israeli Arabs raise hell inside of Israel and on her borders. While Israel dithers under her confused Leftist government, Jordan will be forced into a full civil war. Syria will find this an irresistible opportunity to move its troops into Jordan to "assist" the boy King Abdullah. Of course, they will occupy as much of Jordan as they can during the confusion.
Israel, having been neutered by Clinton, the American State Department and CIA will not know what to do and, when they finally get their act together, will find that Syria is already deeply entrenched. Now, in order to get Syria out of Jordan, Israel will have to sacrifice thousands of Israelis soldiers but, even then, there is no guarantee they will succeed.
As always, look to the Americans, Europeans, and Russians to step in and stop any successful Israeli advances, in effect, giving Syria exactly what she wants - namely, a stand in place cease-fire line which gives Syria whatever ground she has conquered to that point.
As for the Israelis, theirs will be a diminishing role as their critical land mass shrinks to a tinier dot on the map, only staying alive if the UN decides to protect the remnant with their troops. No doubt, there will be hearings and trials within Israel to punish those leaders who failed the nation, a re-run of the failures and trials of the Yom Kippur War. Regrettably, those hearings and trials, as before, will mostly be the 'ole boys' protection club' where the guilty are either overlooked or given a symbolic slap on the wrist. Some will be forced to resign their political posts, only to be reinstated later in some other patronage job. This would, of course, cover both the political and military leaders.
Having given up defensive positions to the Palestinians, not only will the losses be horrendous in taking back those positions, the delay in getting men and armor to the Heights overlooking the Jordan Valley to meet the Syrian advance, will result in even greater casualties. The rage that the people will feel against their politicians and the pacifists appointed as military officers by previous Leftist governments will be incalculable. These officials who risked the safety of the nation on their speculative visions of peace and their operational cooperation with Yassir Arafat and Hafez al Assad will be seen by the people as the ultimate betrayers of the nation's security. After they bury their dead and deal with their grief, I believe that their only thought will be vengeance against those who so frivolously sold their children to the enemy on a dream.
Because there will a be such a massive loss of lives (has v'sholom), I fear that many citizens will take the law into their own hands and begin a personal hunt for those who caused the deaths of family members. But, as in Kosovo, vengeance will rule and the occupying soldiers will not be able to stop the retribution killings. The Leftists will try to leave the country but there will likely be a re-play of World War II, where the nations of the free world closed their borders to escaping Jews. Even in America and Europe the spread of revenge killings will likely continue for years until the memories fade as they did in Europe after the Great War (World War I).
The reader must understand that the scenario I have just laid out is (hopefully) merely speculative. Nothing herein is stated as a recommendation. As in previous articles where dire events are forecast, they are intended to encourage discussion and pro-active forward planning.
1. "Fall of Jordan" Part I: August 21, 1998; Part 2: January 1, 1999; Part
2. "Jordan's Weak King Worries U.S., Israel" by Steve Rodan Mid East News
Line JEWISH PRESS July 30, 1999
3: February 5, 1999; Part 4: February 13, 1999
Emanuel A. Winston is a Middle East Analysis & Commentary and research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.