Jordan’s ambassador to the United States declared Thursday that the Bush Administration is adding “fuel to an already troubled region” and cannot hope to arbitrate the Persian Gulf conflict as long as it supports Israel.
In the sharpest public rebuff yet from a Jordanian official, Ambassador Hussein A. Hammami declared that Washington’s deployment of military units in the Arab world is both unwarranted and unwanted.
“Do not delude yourself that most Arabs welcome the presence of American troops in the region,” he said in his speech at the Washington Press Club. “Arabs are extremely wary of the United States and Western intentions in the region.”
He also charged that the United States has not been honest about its motives.
Rather than to defend the legitimate government of Kuwait, he said, the Administration was intent on “assuring the continued flow of oil.”
“That purpose is contrary to the best interests of the region,” Hammami said.
In recent weeks, the Administration has been working to gently coax Jordan’s support for the tough U.S. posture in the crisis, a crucial step needed to tighten the economic embargo on neighboring Iraq and to defuse Arab tensions about Western intervention. Hammami’s address clearly reflected that success is not imminent.
“In the final analysis, it is counterproductive for foreign forces to come and try to resolve the problem” posed by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, he said. ". . . It will not produce stability; it will be rather the other way around.”
Hammami insisted that Jordan is not aligning itself with Iraq in Baghdad’s determination to keep Kuwait as Iraqi territory.
“Jordan is neither siding with Iraq, nor is it against Kuwait,” he said. “We simply seek to avert a catastrophe which would engulf the Middle East with repercussions affecting the whole world for years to come.”
Hammami said the United States and other Western nations are also insensitive to the economic damage suffered by Jordan from the U.N-imposed embargo. The loss of trade revenue with Iraq, the influx of 20,000 refugees from Kuwait per day and the need to import higher-priced oil from other sources have strained Jordan’s economy to the limit, he said.
Nonetheless “Jordan has repeatedly stated that it will comply with these sanctions,” Hammami said. Jordan is asking the United Nations to provide $2 billion annually to compensate for the loss, and the United States has also pledged to help organize relief.
Hammami called on the United States to reassess its strong support for Israel if it wants to build credibility with the Arab nations and people.
No nation can be “the defender of the rights of the Kuwaitis to self-determination when it rejects that right for the Palestinians,” he said.