In a blockbuster announcement that underscores the massive political victory that the handover of sovereignty represents to the US, Jordan’s King Abdullah announced that Jordan would send troops to assist the new Iraqi government if asked:
Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Thursday his country would be willing to send troops to Iraq, potentially becoming the first Arab state to do so. The statement marked a major shift in Jordan’s position on Iraq. Abdullah had initially refused to send troops.
In an interview Thursday with the British Broadcasting Corp. television “Newsnight” program, he said the new Iraqi interim government had changes his mind.
“I presume that if the Iraqis ask us for help directly it would be very difficult for us to say no,” he said. “Our message to the president or the prime minister is: Tell us what you want. Tell us how we can help, and you have 110 percent support from us.”
Jordan allied with the US for political support for the Iraq War, causing hard feelings among some of its neighbors but boosting Anglo-American efforts in the region. Now that the Bush administration held the line on the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, Abdullah now feels free to provide more material assistance, as it avoids directly aiding the US.
This announcement represents a stunning endorsement of Bush’s decision to stand firm on sovereignty as well as underscore the legitimacy of its nature. Bush’s critics have repeatedly charged that Iraqi sovereignty is nothing but a sham. Obviously, Abdullah disagrees to such an extent that he is willing to place his own armed services under Allawi’s jurisdiction, something he refused to do with Americans in charge. I rather doubt that Jordan would countenance its troops under the command of Western, Christian commanders. Even under Allawi’s command, Jordan risks a political backlash from extremist groups inside and outside of its borders for supporting the independent and representative government forming in the heart of Arabia.
Will this convince the doubters that the Bush strategy and diplomacy has been badly underestimated?
UPDATE: More from the BBC:
Praising the new Iraqi leaders, whom he described as “good, tough, courageous people” he urged them to call on the Jordanian people for support.
“The challenges… that face them on security are going to be their major problem and they are going to need everybody’s help,” he said.
Perhaps it’s just that Abdullah has a better vantage point than International ANSWER and the rest of the naysayers … or maybe he just has his eyes open.