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Cablegate: Feeling More Domestic Pressure, Jordan,S King

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAM #6023 2211329
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 091329Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3014
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L AMMAN 006023

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/09/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS IS LE JO
SUBJECT: FEELING MORE DOMESTIC PRESSURE, JORDAN,S KING
PUBLICLY QUESTIONS U.S. MIDDLE EAST STRATEGY

REF: A. AMMAN 5879

B. AMMAN 5963 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Ambassador David Hale for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: Following up on statements August 2 to
domestic media, King Abdullah expressed concerns about
Lebanon and other regional conflicts in an August 8 BBC
interview that was widely covered by the local print media.
The King is feeling the heat from Jordanians' resentment of
perceived U.S. backing of Israeli actions in Lebanon. He is
protecting his domestic flank by stepping more in line with
emotional public opinion. End summary.

2. (U) In an August 8 interview with BBC aimed both at the
Jordanian domestic audience and at Western governments, King
Abdullah attempted to demonstrate distance between himself
and U.S. positions on Lebanon and other regional issues.
Complaining about "piecemeal" approaches to the region's
crises, he said "I don't think there is an overall strategy."
Asked about the Secretary's recent references to a "new
Middle East," the King replied "the way I'm looking at this
new Middle East, I'm seeing what is happening in Somalia,
(and) Gaza (and) Lebanon (and) Iraq. This is a new Middle
East?" As instability spreads, "the moderate countries are
becoming less emboldened to stick (out) their necks."

3. (U) He urged the international community to press for a
Palestinian state as the core of a lasting settlement of the
region's problems. Israel should end "unilateral" approaches
to the Palestinians and Lebanon. On Lebanon, he stressed
that "all of us need to stand behind . . . Siniora's
government" and support the seven-point plan. The King's
most recent statements are similar to points he made to
Jordanian domestic media August 2 (ref A).

Mounting Domestic Pressure
--------------------------

4. (C) The BBC interview comes at a moment when the King's
top advisors tell us he is feeling pressure from the strong
sympathy all sectors of Jordanian society feel for Lebanese
civilians, and from growing admiration for Hassan Nasrallah
(ref B).

5. (SBU) Jordanians' emotions continue to run high. At a
luncheon at the Ambassador's residence August 9 for political
reformers (several of whom are recipients of MEPI grants),
criticism of the U.S. over Lebanon monopolized conversation.
These moderate reformers complained that the situation had
weakened them and strengthened extremists - "the extremists
have Iran's support, who can we count on?" - one asked. Also
on August 8, Ambassador received a letter signed by
seventy-two prominent Jordanians, including four former Prime
Ministers, denouncing U.S. support for Israeli actions in
Lebanon (faxed to NEA/ELA). Meanwhile, reports of attacks on
Palestinian camps in Lebanon have revived paranoid talk among
East Bankers that Israel's long-term goal is "Jordan as
Palestine."

Comment
-------

6. (C) While the King does not believe everything he said on
the BBC, he sent a message to the Ambassador that he feels
intense pressure from public opinion, which is fed on a
steady diet of one-sided televised carnage. It is now an
article of faith for most Jordanians that the U.S. is to
blame for not ending the violence sooner - and no line of
reasoning seems to alter this perception. Former Prime
Minister Taher al-Masri said the King needed to make these
remarks to align himself with the mood of public anger, but
Jordanians still grudgingly accepted that the King's policies
and association with the U.S. kept Jordan stable and peaceful
in contrast to some of the countries around it.

Visit Amman's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman/

Hale

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