Thursday, October 11, 2012
Obama's Next Mideast War? Ground Troops In Jordan
The U.S. now has boots on the ground in Jordan.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that 'about 150' U.S. special forces troops were now deployed in Jordan to monitor the situation in neighboring Syria and to train the Jordanian military.
"We have a group of our forces there, working to help them build a headquarters and to ensure that we make the relationship between the United States and Jordan a strong one so we can deal with all of the possible consequences," he said.
"We've also been working with them to try to develop their own military and operational capabilities in the event of any contingency there."
There's a great deal left unsaid in those two paragraphs.
Part of the reason our troops are there is to monitor what's going on with Syria's chemical and biological weapons, which the Assad regime might attempt to move or deploy, as Panetta acknowledged. However, if those weapons were to be moved, it would likely be in the other direction, towards Assad's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.
While the Obama Administration pointedly refuses to name any red lines when it comes to Iran, President Obama has been quite vocal that any attempt to move or use biological or chemical weapons by the Assad regime would be crossing a "red line" and would prompt a swift U.S. military response.
But that's only part of the story.
Jordan is a U.S. client state, and King Abdullah, the Hashemite monarch of the country is literally sitting on a powder keg.
Back in 1923, when Britain partitioned the Palestine Mandate and set 79% of it aside as the Arab part of Palestine, they attempted to kill two birds with one stone by placing the present king's grandfather, also named Abdullah on the throne as Jordan's ruler. This original King Abdullah was a Bedouin, son of the Hashemite Sharif of Mecca Hussein. His Jordanian subjects, however, were Quraysh or town Arabs, an entirely different group.
Thus, what was supposed to have become the Arab Palestinian state became a place where 75% of the residents were saddled with what amounted to an imported foreign aristocracy that quickly took charge of the leading positions in the military and government and reserved these positions for themselves.
This has manifested itself over the years in the assassination of the original King Abdullah in 1951 on the orders of Palestinian leader Haj-Amin al Husseini and in Yasser Arafat and the PLO's attempt to overthrow Abdullah's successor, King Hussein in 1970. That attempt was brutally suppressed by King Hussein's Bedouin troops in his Arab legion, but tension between Jordan's Bedouin ruling class and their Palestinain subjects has remained.
This situation has been exacerbated by the increased presence of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda affiliated groups, who would like nothing better than to overthrow the present King Abdullah,who they see as a U.S. tool. Muslim Brotherhood groups now operating just over the border in Syria ups the ante.
The other contingencies Panetta mentions almost certainly include training the Jordanians in counter-insurgency techniques and increasing intel and surveillance not only within Jordan but on the Syrian border in an effort to help preserve King Abdullah and the status quo.
That job will get increasingly more difficult once the Muslim Brotherhood group Hamas takes over the Arab occupied areas of Judea and Samaria (AKA the West bank)as the Fatah Old Guard who now rule these areas fades away and retires to live on the aid money they have squirreled away in Europe and the Emirates.