AMMAN ø Jordan has quietly reshuffled its military command.
Jordanian sources said King Abdullah has ordered the dismissal of
Jordan's air force commander and deputy in the biggest shakeup since he
ascended to the throne in 1999.
The king's decision results in the ouster of his younger brother,
Jordanian Air Force commander, Prince Faisal Bin Al Hussein, who holds the
rank of general.
"We're talking about a very serious development that could have
repercussions for the next few years," a source said.
The reshuffle took place as Jordan has been facing increasing domestic
unrest and threats from neighboring Syria. Western diplomatic sources said
the Jordanian leadership has been divided over how to respond to the
Faisal became air force commander in 2002 after having served as deputy
Faisal was replaced by Col. Ahmed Mohammed Bes, who had been chief
operations officer of the air force, the sources said. Faisal's deputy was
also dismissed. His replacement was not disclosed.
The sources said Abdullah's dismissal of Faisal was not directly
connected to the performance of the air force commander. They said the
king's move appeared to be part of an effort to reinforce his rule and
eliminate the potential of a power struggle with his younger brother.
Prince Faisal had been responsible for air force modernization and
regarded in the West as the No. 2 in the Hashemite kingdom. The 40-year-old,
who was not next in line for the throne, has maintained excellent relations
with Western and Gulf Cooperation Council militaries.
Over the last week, Faisal has not been reported to have attended any
official functions in the kingdom. He was not said to have met U.S.
Assistant Defense Secretary Peter Rodman, responsible for international
Moreover, neither Faisal nor Bes was mentioned in official Jordanian
communiques regarding a Sept. 27 military exercise near the Syrian border.
The exercise, attended by King Abdullah, included maneuvers by air force
attack helicopters and fighter-jets.
The sources said they did not believe the dismissal of Faisal would
affect air force programs. Faisal had overseen Jordan's plans for additional
F-16 multi-role fighters as well as the Joint Direct Attack Munition from
the United States.
The military shakeup was said to have taken place last week. Jordan has
not formally announced the appointments, but a Jordanian daily published an
announcement that welcomed the selection of a new air force commander.
The sources said Abdullah has decreed that Faisal would become a
special royal adviser. Faisal was also promoted to the post of lieutenant