Report: U.S. to use Jordan as base for attack against Iraq
U.S. military planners are preparing to use Jordan as a base for an attack against Iraq later this year or early in 2003, The Observer reported Sunday.
Although leaked Pentagon documents appear to show that Turkey, Kuwait and Qatar would play key roles, it is believed that Jordan will be the 'jumping-off' point for an assault that could involve up to 250,000 American troops and forces from Britain and other key US allies, the newspaper added.
Iraqi dissidents in Amman have told The Observer that hundreds of American advisers have arrived in Jordan in the past few months.
The Amman-based Iraqi National Accord (INA), which includes a lot of key military dissidents, has held talks in Washington about plans for a strike on Iraq. They expect the US to start with intensive bombing and missile raids launched from the Gulf and Turkey, leading to a military rebellion within Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard.
Eye-witnesses claim preparations are under way at the Muafaq Salti air base in Azraq, about 75 kilometers east of Amman on the road to Baghdad.
Ten days ago the Jordanian news agency, Petra, reported that the head of the US Central Command, General Tommy Franks, met Jordan's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lieutenant-General Khalid Jamil Surayrih.
'Jordan's role will be that of Pakistan in the US-Taliban war,' said a prominent Jordanian analyst, according to the British newspaper.
Others contend Jordan will pay a heavy price for cooperating with an attack. “A US strike against Iraq will increase the influence of radicals [in Jordan],” said former Prime Minister Taher al-Masri. “The feeling that the US is an enemy will be enhanced.”
It should be mentioned that Marwan Moasher, the Jordanian Foreign Minister, denied the presence of any American troops in the kingdom. Moasher issued denials after the Lebanese daily Al Safir reported that 2,000 American forces in Jordan are preparing to carry out military operations against Iraq. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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