1. (SBU) The Embassy continues on a normal schedule March 25, with Consular services open. The Peace Corps office opened briefly to allow access to Jordanian staff, but activity at the American Language Center remains suspended.
2. (C) The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan confirmed that the Bank had ordered commercial banks to freeze Iraqi government assets in Jordanian banks. Other Iraqi deposits are being closely monitored by the CBJ. The CBJ is in daily contact with banks on this issue.
3. (C) The local owner of the Pizza Hut and Popeye's restaurant franchises informed the Embassy of an anonymous text message circulating on cell phones calling for a march to American restaurants today, March 25, in order to "break them." The message specifically mentioned McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye's and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The owner further stated that he contacted the police, who would provide extra security. Embassy RSO confirmed that PSD was notified and requested to provide additional resources at the named franchises. The local owner added that although business had been down 55% over the last week, he had heard no directs calls for a boycott but feared it would not be long in the coming.
4. (C) Royal Jordanian is operating to all destinations except Baghdad. On March 25, CEO Samer Majali expressed an interest in "helping the US" get Iraqi Airways flying quickly. He said RJ is ready to operate flights on behalf of Iraqi airways out of Baghdad, even repainting planes if necessary. He stressed RJ's long familiarity with Iraq.
5. (C) With the international airport and seaport and the border crossings to Israel remaining open, there has been no interruption of imports or exports. Insurance companies have not designated Jordanian air or seaports as high risk/war risk areas, although some exporters say shipping rates have increased due to higher fuel costs. QIZ companies report no problems. They are continuing to meet deadlines and fill orders that were booked before hostilities began. Target Corporation told us they recently booked new orders with Jordanian factories, and a QIZ company reported that investor interest continues.
6. (U) A FBIS report cited a previously-unknown internet source as saying that two relatives of Saddam Hussein had defected to Amman, including Hisham Hasan al-Majid, brother of "Chemical Ali" al-Majid, and the son of the Iraqi president's sister Siham. The source also states that it is believed that "Chemical Ali", Uday Hussein, and Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri were killed in the raid by US bombers on Thursday morning. There are media reports of "hundreds" of Iraqis returning to Iraq via the Jordanian border in order to "fight for Iraq's honor."
7. (SBU) The Amman Stock Exchange index, which had increased 1.25% and 0.96% during the first two trading following the start of hostilities, declined by 0.75% on Monday and by 0.25% Tuesday. Traders attributed this more to Monday's global stock market drop than to increased domestic jitters.
8. (C) No new issues. Inquiries remain below normal, but could be due to inclement weather in addition to the political situation.
10. (U) A demonstration and march organized by opposition parties was scheduled for this afternoon in a commercial area of western Amman, evidently approved by PSD. Demonstrations also continue at some universities but have been confined to the campuses and have not involved any violence. Current snowstorms will likely limit the participation in these demonstrations.
11. (C) The Jordan-Iraq border remains open and the flow of TCNs remains at a trickle. There is still no sign of any Iraqi refugees/asylum seekers. 46 TCNs crossed into Jordan over the last 24 hours, bringing the total population of the transit camp to 169 -- Somalis, Sudanese, Malians, Eritreans and 1 Djibouti national. IOM repatriated seven Egyptians this morning via the Aqaba ferry. UNHCR Sr. Logistics Officer reports that the Jordan Red Crescent is doing a very poor job of managing the transit camp, noting that their food supplier provided food for the first time yesterday, March 24, and that most likely the JRCS would be unable to handle more than the trickle of TCNs currently entering the camp.
12. (C) On March 24, GOJ Minister of Interior Majali personally reviewed the cases of 23 people with document problems being held at the border. UNHCR reported that the one Iraqi national who was trying to transit Jordan en route to Yemen was "persuaded" to return to Iraq. UNHCR did not believe the return was involuntary. 22 Palestinians will be reviewed by UNRWA officials today. If they are found to have UNRWA status, they will be admitted to the transit camp until a more permanent accommodation is identified for them. UNHCR also reports that a handful of vehicles is entering Iraq from Jordan this morning, including a family of Iraqis laden down with household possessions who said they're returning home to Baghdad.
13. (C) Despite repeated PA denials, Embassy Information Officer continues to receive inquiries from local journalists asking about rumors that the daughter of VP Cheney is en route to Baghdad to act as a "human shield." The Foreign Minister and the Israeli press officer called the Embassy to confirm that this story is untrue. GNEHM