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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03AMMAN1699
2003-03-20 13:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

TF1ZO1: AMMAN SITREP 2 (3/20 1530 LOCAL)

Tags:   AEMR  AMGT  ASEC  CASC  CVIS  IZ  JO 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 001699 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2013
TAGS: AEMR AMGT ASEC CASC CVIS IZ JO
SUBJECT: TF1ZO1: AMMAN SITREP 2 (3/20 1530 LOCAL)


Classified By: Ambassador Edward W. Gnehm. Reasons 1.5 (b,d).

----------------
General Overview
----------------



1. (C) As of 1530 local (1330 GMT), the situation throughout
Jordan is calm, and street traffic and activity is lower than
normal. Several peaceful demonstrations are ongoing and
others are planned for later today, however there have been
no reports of any disturbances. Amman's Queen Alia
International Airport remains open. While non-regional air
carriers have suspended service, and Royal Jordanian
Airline's 3/20 and 3/21 flights to Baghdad have been
canceled, other commercial services are continuing. RJ's
3/20 flight to Chicago via Shannon, Ireland is still
scheduled to depart as usual. As of early morning, oil tank
trucks were still entering Jordan from Iraq, but the
Jordanian Oil and Finance Ministries did not expect this to
continue for long. Press reports described traffic along the
Amman-Baghdad highway on the Jordan side of the border as
very light. At mid-day, the Amman Stock Market was up 2.5
percent, with Embassy business contacts expressing relief
that a period of uncertainty had come to an end. No
shortages of goods have been reported, although sales of some
specialty items (baby food, imported goods, and medicine) are
heavier than usual.



--------------------------


Consular Issues


--------------------------





2. (C) The Consular section had received about 50 calls by
mid-day from American citizens, most of whom were confused
about whether the USG had ordered them to depart Jordan. The
Embassy has disseminated three cleared warden messages (the
onset of hostilities, the worldwide caution, and the travel
warning for the Middle East and north Africa) to the American
community to clarify the situation. The Embassy is prepared
to send ConOffs to Ruweished transit camps and/or the
Jordanian-Iraqi border to identify and assist Amcits, if
necessary. No Amcit crossings from Iraq into Jordan have
been reported thus far.



--------------------------


GOJ Actions/Statements


--------------------------





3. (C) Foreign Minister Muasher was interviewed on CNN at
approximately 1030 local time. His main points were that
Jordan is not participating in the military operation and
will not be used as a launchpad for attacks on Iraq, that it
will rely on the "good offices" of the U.S. and UN to rebuild
Iraq, that there must be a renewed focus on resolving the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that a limited number of
U.S. troops are in Jordan operating Patriot missile
batteries, training Jordanians and conducting relief
operations.



--------------------------


Security


--------------------------





4. (C) The Public Security Directorate (PSD) has provided
additional support to the Embassy, as pre-arranged, and we
remain in close consultation with all GOJ security agencies
and are monitoring developments. PSD reports that small
peaceful demonstrations (100-200 people) occurred this
morning at the Baqa'a and Wihdat Palestinian refugee camps,
and that the Lawyers' Professional Association has organized
a small (250 person) government-approved march from the main
courthouse in Amman to the city center. Additionally,
students are planning mid-day demonstrations at three
universities (the Arab College, Zarqa University and
Al-Hashimiya University). PSD expects these gatherings to be
peaceful and confined to university grounds, but will have
additional security personnel on hand to ensure order.



--------------------------


Refugee/Humanitarian Issues


--------------------------





5. (U) As of 1200 local time, the only population movement
toward the Jordanian border has been 200 third-country
nationals (TCNs) -- mostly Sudanese citizens. No Iraqi
asylum seekers have yet approached the Jordanian border.
According to IOM country director Georgette Hoshe, 12 TCNs
have been denied entry by the GOJ. The group of 12 includes
some Sudanese diplomatic passport holders, Sudanese traveling
on expired Sudanese passports, and one Sudanese national from
southern Sudan who wants to seek asylum in Jordan. The GOJ
will not allow the Sudanese to enter Jordan until someone
from the Sudanese Embassy comes to the border to screen the
Sudanese nationals. IOM has thus far been unable to locate
anyone from the Sudanese Embassy and, along with UNHCR, is
providing tents, water and food for this group.



6. (U) The remaining 188 TCNs have been moved to the
IOM/Jordanian Red Crescent Society (JRCS) transit camp in
Ruweished. IOM is arranging meals and transportation for
these individuals. Poor weather conditions -- high winds and
blowing sand -- continue to make it difficult for UNHCR and
JRCS to erect tents. That said, UNHCR had erected 30 tents
at the refugee camp and JCRS had set up 200 tents at the
transit camp at last report, sufficient to deal with current
numbers. UNHCR says it will be able to set up additional
tents according to demand.



--------------------------


Press


--------------------------





7. (SBU) All major Jordanian dailies ran 24-hour operations
in anticipation of war and thus covered the cruise missile
attacks (described as efforts to assassinate Saddam), plus
President Bush's statement on the outbreak of hostilities.
Editorials, undoubtedly written before the beginning of
hostilities, predict that while U.S. military victory may be
inevitable, the real test will be how America deals with the
consequences, particularly the "mosaic" of potentially
hostile ethnic groups in Iraq. Liberal daily Ad-Dustour's
columnist Batten Ali Warden held both "the Washington gang"
and the Iraqi regime responsible for the war -- the Iraqis
because of their long history of mistakes. Semi-official
Ar-Rai's columnist and Health Minister Abdul Rahim Melhas
stated that while Arab regimes might have their reasons for
standing by the U.S., America was losing the battle of hearts
and minds, and he referred to the Arab "culture of martyrdom"
and penchant for last stands. Finally, papers reported that
yesterday the French Embassy was being showered with bouquets
from appreciative Jordanians.

GNEHM