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2003-03-27 15:13:00
Embassy Amman
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						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 001864 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2013

REF: A. (A) AMMAN 1835

B. (B) FBIS GMP2003026000151

C. (C) AMMAN 1801

D. (D) AMMAN 1744

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

General Overview

1. (C) Embassy EAC met March 27 to discuss security
measures in anticipation of significant protest activity
after Friday prayers on March 28. EAC issued a "standfast"
order for all non-emergency personnel for 3/28 until 1800.
After 1800, unless notified differently, post posture will
return to allowing American personnel essential movements, to
include travel to the Embassy and stops for necessary
supplies. The EAC will reassess the local security
environment following the weekend.

2. (U) In a postscript to the expulsion of Iraqi diplomats
from Jordan for security reasons earlier in the week, and the
GOI's verbal attacks against the GOJ for doing so (ref A),
the official Petra New Agency quoted the Iraqi Ambassador to
Jordan Sabah Yasin as characterizing the entire affair as "no
more than a passing summer cloud." In an meeting with GOJ
Minister of Industry and Trade Salah Bashir, the Iraqi
Ambassador indicated that the three expelled Iraqi diplomats
will be replaced "as soon as possible." (ref B)

3. (S/NF) Privately, GOJ security officials have confirmed
rumors that a fire set at the Amman Hyatt Hotel on March 22
was set by IIS sabateours. (ref C)

4. (SBU) Approximately 7,000 people attended funerals in the
northern Jordanian city of Ramtha (near Irbid) for the
Jordanian students killed in Mosul March 23 (ref D). As of
1800, PSD had not reported any disturbances associated with
the funerary march.

5. (SBU) About 1,000 anti-U.S., but pro-government,
protesters held a demonstration at Jordan University March

27. PSD notes that the demonstration was peaceful.


Consular Issues


6. (U) No new issues.


GOJ Actions/Statements


7. (U) Planning Minister Bassam Awadullah welcomed the
Ambassador's announcement of the President's proposed $1.1
billion supplemental aid package for Jordan. Awadullah said
the aid would "help mitigate the impact of war and make sure
that Jordan's success story is not jeopardized." He noted
the international community recognized that allowing the
Jordanian economic model to fail would have negative
consequences for U.S. and European development plans for the
rest of the region. Awadullah expressed confidence that the
EU would soon increase its aid to Jordan along similar lines.

8. (U) The official Petra news service reported (ref B) that
GOJ Industry and Trade Minister Bashir telephoned Iraqi Trade

Minister Muhammed Mahdi Salih 3/26 and "emphasized the deep
relations between the two brotherly countries." The report
stated that Bashir told Salih that he would work with the
Iraqi Ambassador in Jordan to find "mechanisms that would
facilitate and expedite the constant flow of goods to Iraq .
. . and emphasized that issues regarding transportation,
rapid and smooth flow of goods, and alternatives determined
by priorities in order to meet humanitarian needs in Iraq
will be studied."




9. (C) The GID and PSD will deploy additional security
personnel overnight around the Embassy, ancillary USG
facilities, and neighborhoods where Embassy housing is
located, as part of the GOJ's overall preparations for
possible 3/28 post-prayers demonstrations. As noted para 1,
Embassy will implement a standfast order for American
employees until 1800 on Friday.


Economic and Trade Developments


10. (C) Port activity: QIZ exporters reported rumors that
container ships have been delayed coming into Aqaba.
Shipping Agents Association Chairman Dalabieh confirms that
inbound freight has experienced slight delays over the past
48 hours, but attributes the delay to inclement weather and
to an inoperable gantry crane at the port, which delayed
berthing and offloading, respectively. Dalabieh said inbound
cargo should resume as normal starting March 27.

11. (sbu) Internet companies report a sharp upsurge in
internet use, particularly email traffic, over the last week
(septel). The technical support director at the largest
internet provider in Jordan said that sophisticated software
is allowing users to access and download tv news reports,
which are then given broad circulation via email. Despite an
increase in traffic that has at times reached 95% capacity,
providers report no problems with continued service.

12. (sbu) Similarly, mobile provider MobileCom said that
levels of text messaging (or SMS) traffic are also on the
rise, as much as twice the normal level at times. Stephane
Boudier, Chief Technical Officer for MobileCom said there
was "no strain" on the system. He added, however, that the
company was getting a "steadily rising" number of complaints
about inability to connect to land lines in Iraq, a problem
the company is attributing to degradation of the Iraqi
telecom infrastructure due to the conflict.

13. (sbu) Trading on the Amman Stock Exchange was flat
Thursday, the index up .08%.

14. (sbu) Target Corporation continues to book orders
through Jordanian QIZs and said they have no plans to
discontinue unless events on the ground change. The company
gave this reassurance despite an increase in fuel charge per
kilo from five cents to twenty cents for the Middle East
imposed March 24. Target officials said that a shortage of
aircraft due to military action and a decrease in passenger
travel added to the increased transportation costs.


Refugee/Humanitarian Issues


15. (U) UNHCR & IOM report that the Jordan-Iraq border
remains open. Seven TCNs entered Jordan from Iraq overnight
(March 26-27) but there have been no TCN arrivals since 1:00
am. There are currently 173 TCNs in the transit camp. Still
no sign of any Iraqi refugees/asylum seekers.

16. (U) Weather conditions improved considerably March 27,
allowing IOM to resume its repatriation operations. Four
Somalis left the camp and another six are scheduled to leave
on March 28. Some Sudanese & Somali nationals have told IOM
officials they do not want to return home. UNHCR officials
currently are interviewing these individuals.

17. (C) MSF/Amman has not received any news from its
two-truck convoy that crossed from Jordan into Iraq on March

26. Separately, the French Embassy in Amman told UNHCR
officials that it has heard that the Amman-Baghdad highway
has been "cut" by coalition forces 80 km west of Baghdad.




18. (SBU) Banner headlines in all Jordanian dailies March 27
highlighted developments in the war. Lead reports focus on
the bombing of a marketplace in Baghdad and continued battles
in southern Iraq. Other major stories highlight remarks by
Iraq's Ambassador to Jordan that the recent diplomatic "tiff"
between the countries was a "tempest in a teapot," and that
bilateral relations remain normal. Editorials continue to
criticize the war in the strongest terms, to express
admiration for Iraqi resistance, and to voice outrage over
civilian casualties.

19. (U) The Ambassador's announcement of the President's
request for $1.1 billion in supplemental aid for Jordan
appeared on the front pages and in the economic pages of all
Jordanian dailies March 27. One local commentator noted that
"Western assistance to Jordan reflects sensitivity to the
losses suffered by the economy due to war."