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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03AMMAN1744 2003-03-23 12:57:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

TFIZO1: AMMAN SITREP 8 (3/23 1600 LOCAL)

Tags:   AEMR AMGT CASC CVIS EAIR ECON EWWT IZ JO 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 001744 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/23/2013
TAGS: AEMR AMGT CASC CVIS EAIR ECON EWWT IZ JO
SUBJECT: TFIZO1: AMMAN SITREP 8 (3/23 1600 LOCAL)

REF: FBIS GMP20030322000228

Classified By: Acting DCM Doug Silliman. Reason 1.5 (b,d).

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



1. (C) The GOJ this afternoon publicly announced (confirmed
by the Foreign Minister to the Ambassador) the expulsion of
five Iraqi diplomats "for security reasons and for performing
actions that contradict the nature of their work as
diplomats". The Minister said they would be asked to leave
the country.



2. (C) The Embassy resumed many public services today,
although activities at ancillary facilities (the American
Language Center, Peace Corps office) remain suspended.
American personnel were encouraged to stagger their arrival
and departure to/from work and, although standfast has been
lifted, are limited to essential movements.



3. (C) The vast majority of Jordanians remain angry,
frustrated and completely unconvinced by the U.S. rationale
for war. Although the GOJ continues to keep a tight lid on
public displays of opposition to the war (allowing some
demonstrations but always with a large security presence),
private conversations with Jordanians reveal an unprecedented
level of anger with both the U.S. and with Arab leaders who
are seen as abetting a new "colonization of Arab lands."
Many contacts described the King's 3/21 speech to the nation
(and his subsequent comments on 3/22 (see below)), in largely
negative, dismissive and derogatory terms.



4. (C) As of 1200 noon local time, PSD reports that a number
of student demonstrations are currently ongoing at several
Jordanian universities. These include 3,000 at Jordan
University for Science and Technology in Irbid, 1,000 at
al-Yarmouk University in Irbid, and several hundred each at
universities in Ma'an and on the outskirts of Amman. PSD
personnel are present at all these sites and report that the
gatherings have been peaceful. Intermittent demonstrations
by groups of youths at the Baqa'a refugee camp continue today
as well.



5. (U) The Jordanian press reported today on the return of
the body of the Jordanian taxi driver allegedly killed on the
road from Baghdad near Ramadi by a coalition missile. The
press also reported today that four Jordanians were killed in
a car accident near Mosul, although rumors abound
(particularly via mobile phone text messages and a story on
al-Jazeera TV) that they too were hit by U.S. ordnance. The
MFA confirmed that four Jordanians had died near Mosul, but
did not have specific information on the circumstances of the
incident.



6. (C) Financial markets continue to take events in stride.
The Amman Stock Exchange recorded a 1 percent gain Sunday.
Queen Alia International Airport continues to operate
normally. Alitalia resumed its Amman service, joining Air
France, which restored its service yesterday. Other European
carriers are assessing security and market conditions before
they restore service to Amman. KLM has indicated it will not
resume operations before April 14.



7. (C) Port of Aqaba authorities said "business as usual"
continues at the port. Officials said that none of the big
shipping lines have indicated reductions or cancellations in
calls or loads. However, Ministry of Transportation,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and shipping associations are
working with international insurance companies to ensure that
Aqaba is not designated as part of the war zone. Inclusion
in the war zone could translate into additional insurance
costs of up to USD 4000 per ship and up to USD 150-250 per
container.



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


Consular Issues


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





8. (U) No new issues. Consular inquiries remain light.


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


GOJ Actions/Statements


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





9. (U) Petra news service reported that, in a March 22
cabinet meeting, King Abdullah stressed the importance of
maintaining domestic security and stability in the current
crisis. He added that any expressions of anger should be
non-violent. Also in the cabinet meeting, PM Abul Ragheb
said the government had taken measures to mitigate the impact
of the war on sensitive economic sectors including tourism,
transport and exports. Abul Ragheb noted Jordan's monetary
situation is stable, with foreign currency reserves remaining
high.



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


Security


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





10. (U) No new issues. GOJ protection of the chancery
compound remains at a heightened state.



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


Refugee/Humanitarian Issues


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





11. (SBU) As of 1200 noon, IOM reports that a total of 651
TCNs have crossed into Jordan from Iraq since the beginning
of hostilities (51 overnight). IOM continues to evacuate
TCNs. All Sudanese who had previously said that they wanted
to claim asylum have now agreed to return to Sudan. IOM
continues to organize their departure via charter and
commercial flights. Currently 291 TCNs remain in the
Ruweished transit camp. No Iraqi asylum seekers have yet
tried to enter Jordan.



12. (C) CNN reporters who were expelled by the Iraqi
authorities and arrived at Ruweished on 3/22 told UNHCR that
the Iraqi side of the border is open, the road from Baghdad
to the Jordanian border remains clear, they did not see
anything that could prevent Iraqis from leaving the country,
and that they did not come across any population movements
along the road. TCNs, however, report rumors of missile
strikes on vehicles attempting to transit the Baghdad-Amman
highway. However, a group of South Africans who made the
journey late on 3/22 corroborated the account of the CNN team
that they saw no evidence of injured civilians or blockages
along the road.



13. (C) UNHCR also reports that the GOJ has restricted access
to all points east of Safawiye and had turned back UN
officials who lacked proper documentation. UNHCR reports
also that a zone 5 KM from the Iraqi-Jordanian border is now
officially off-limits to journalists.



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


Press


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





14. (U) Local Arabic press coverage continues to focus on the
bravery and resistance of Iraqi troops, along with pictures
of civilian casualties, rather than the speed and might of
the U.S. military. Cartoonists depict scenes such as
President Bush tossing a bomb out of a plane and saying
"Here, have a little more Democracy." The Arabic daily
Al-Dustour ran a gruesome above-the-fold front page color
photo of an Iraqi child allegedly killed by coalition
bombing. Editorialists vary between articles hailing King
Abdullah's determination to end the war as soon as possible
and protect Jordan's interests, and a mantra that the war is
being waged by the Zionist lobby and oil interests.
GNEHM