Insurgents target Jordan's key logistical role in Iraq

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

AMMAN Insurgents in Iraq have attacked Jordan's position as a vital logistics base for members of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq.

Sunni insurgency groups have abducted Jordanian nationals and threatened them with execution unless the Hashemite kingdom ends assistance to the United States and other militaries in Iraq. So far, one Jordanian firm announced it would withdraw from Iraq.

"Jordan has profited handsomely by its ability to send supplies to militaries in Iraq," a Western diplomatic source said. "If that goes, it will hurt both Jordan as well as the coalition."

Over the last year, Jordan has been employed to provide logistics, training, supplies and even intelligence information to members of the military coalition in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Western diplomatic sources said Jordan was preferred over Kuwait, Iraq's southern neighbor, by members of the coalition with troops in central and northern Iraq.

[On Wednesday, more than 50 Iraqis were killed in Baaquba, north of Baghdad. U.S. officials said a minibus packed with explosives blew up near a police station where hundreds of young men were waiting to apply to become officers.]

Amman's role has also committed the kingdom to train 32,000 Iraqi police officers as well as an unspecified number of Iraqi military troops until 2007. Industry sources have estimated this contract at more than $1.3 billion.

Last week, Jordan agreed to serve as a support base for South Korea, which has pledged to deploy 3,000 troops in Iraq. Seoul plans to begin sending its forces to Iraq in August.

Jordanian officials said Amman will cooperate with Seoul on a range of requirements for South Korean deployment in Iraq. They cited Jordanian intelligence, logistics and supplies for South Korean troops planned to be stationed in northern Iraq.

The two countries agreed on Jordan's role during a visit by King Abdullah to Seoul. On July 24, Abdullah met South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in Seoul and discussed the situation in post-war Iraq.

Officials did not report the value of Amman's supply and support agreement with South Korea. Jordan has helped other members of the U.S.-led coalition, including the United States, with logistics, supplies and training. Jordan's military has also sent advisers in Iraq.

Sunni insurgency groups aligned with the former Saddam Hussein regime have warned Jordan to end the supply route to the U.S.-led military coalition. Scores of truck drivers transporting supplies to Baghdad have already been abducted or attacked in Iraq near the Jordanian border.

On Tuesday, the so-called "Group of Death" warned that it would attack vehicles coming from Jordan into Iraq. "Group of Death" announced a July 30 deadline for Jordan to stop all supplies to Iraq.

So far, at least one Jordanian supplier of the military coalition said it would withdraw from Iraq. The announcement by the Amman-based Daoud and Partners came after two of its employees were abducted and threatened with execution unless the firm paid $140,000 and left Iraq. Daoud has provided construction and catering services to the U.S. military.

"We consider all Jordanian interests, companies and businessmen and citizens as much a target as the Americans," a masked member of "Group of Death" said in a video supplied to news agencies. "We will cut the road between Jordan and Iraq so that Jordanian supplies cannot supply the U.S. Army."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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