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.


louielouie said...

i'm having a hard time following ff logic in this essay.
i could understand it if a sane person were in the white house, given US m/e policy, and as ff states jordan is a US client state.
however, given past events in egypt and libya, and hussein's diktats that it's time for assad to go, it appears to me that the muslim brotherhood is the defacto US client state in the region.
this, imo, leaves the king of jordan with two choices. either use his hands to hold onto his ankles, or to spread his cheeks. that's the chicago way.

Rob said...

Oh, you have a point here Louie.

But as our friend Weekend Monkey would say, it doesn't have to make common sense, just political sense. Obama wants things quiet until after the election, and the last thing he needs is another foreign policy fiasco to explain.


louielouie said...

as you bring up monkey boy, i'm glad to see you writing about the ryan debate tonight.
unfortunate the little fur ball didn't sober up in time to hack into/onto your site.

B.Poster said...

The US military is already spread to thin and does not have the forces to commit to Jordan or any where else right now. Apparently the idiots who currently run things cannot figure this out.

The term "client state" does not seem entirely accurate. With a client they can fire you any time they wish. Any business person knows that. One must also keep their client happy if they wish to keep that client. Also, client and there business partners typically have mutually beneficial relationships.

The relationship between Jordan and the US is more like a master/slave relationship. Jordan is the master. The US is the slave. Jordan gets what it wants. The US cooperates with Jordan or gets shown the highway. Slave/master relationships are for the benefit of the master. As such, the US gets little to nothing from this.

There's probably little the US could do to save the Jordanian king even if it wanted to. Within a year the regimes in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the UAE will all fall. The best approach for the US here is to preapre for the inevitable. Having troops in the region when the fall occurrs is probably not a good idea.