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The Middle East: Jordan

Look at the map. Jordan is a small country, wedged between Saudi Arabia, Israel, Syria and Iraq. Its weakness is worsened by the high percentage of Palestinians in the population. The whole region seems crazy, and the Bush Administration bewilders people. It is against this background that Jordan Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, where he was Ambassador; he has replaced Abdul Ilah Khatib as foreign minister. Speaking calmly in excellent English, he seemed like an island of sanity. Without justifying Saddam Hussein, `he said that Jordan has excellent relations with Iraq and would not permit the US to have bases there for an attack on it. He stressed the "Arab initiative", part of an international resolution which has a definite plan to solve the Middle East problem in three years. Israel stubbornly refuses to commit itself to the plan. He warned the US against bypassing the UN, since a unilateral attack on Iraq would be viewed by the Arab street as an attack on all the Arab and indeed Muslin world. As for the future of the Arab countries, he said democracy cannot be injected; it must develop over a long period. The official name of Jordan is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. One questioner asked him if the restoration of the Hashemite rule in Iraq would be possible. He did not really answer. It might not be a bad idea.

Ronald Hilton - 9/24/02