2003-02-14 10:47:00
Embassy Amman
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 AMMAN 000980 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2013

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


S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 AMMAN 000980


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2013

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


1. (C) As Jordan prepares to face a possible war on its
Eastern border, and then looks beyond the immediate crisis to
longer term challenges, the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF),
General Intelligence Directorate (GID) and Public Security
Directorate (PSD) will serve as key pillars ensuring the
stability of the monarchy. Throughout its modern history,
Jordan's military and internal security services -- drawn
predominantly from its East Bank and Circassian populations
-- have been a loyal and dependable source of support
countering any threats to the regime, whether from within or
without. While the immediate and looming crisis with Iraq
will test the strength and cohesiveness of these
institutions, we expect that they will rise to the occasion
-- as they have during every previous crisis in the nation's
history. Over the longer term, the GOJ will face potential
stresses on these pillars from government reforms, economic
changes and social pressures. End Summary.

Always There When It Counts

2. (C) Throughout Jordan's modern history, the Hashemite
Monarchy has depended on its military, intelligence and
security forces to protect the kingdom from external threats,
to infiltrate groups before they could act on their
anti-regime ambitions and to maintain order when popular
passions threatened to boil over. At each critical juncture
in Jordan's recent -- and not so recent -- past, these
pillars have protected the stability of the Kingdom and
guaranteed the continued rule of the Hashemites.

3. (C) Over the past several years, with increased Al-Qaeda
activity in Jordan, a public inflamed by the Intifada next
door, and now a war with Iraq looking ever more probable, the
preparedness and effectiveness of all three of these
organizations -- the GID, JAF and PSD -- have never been more


4. (S) The GID is undoubtedly the most powerful of these
three key organizations -- in the eyes of most Jordanians,

the real "power behind the throne." The GID maintains a
mystique among the general population as the institution that
"knows where all the skeletons are hidden." Responsible both
for internal and external intelligence, the GID's presence
can be found in all corners of society. Traditionally,
Jordan's small but very Hashemite-loyal Circassian minority
has played an outsized role in the organization, along with
other East Bankers. The GID has always been well-funded,
something that has allowed it to successfully recruit many of
the country's best and brightest into its service. Family
tradition also serves as a strong motivating force for
service. The GID's influence, always substantial under King
Hussein, has grown even stronger since the accession to power
of King Abdullah. Its present Director, General Sa'ad Kheir,
is arguably the King's closest advisor and confidant. Using
an array of sophisticated tools and methods, the GID keeps
close tabs on groups and individuals that may pose threats to
the regime.


5. (C) The present-day JAF is a direct descendent of the
legendary Arab Legion, and officers and enlisted soldiers
alike who serve in the nation's armed forces are proud of
this lineage. Like the GID, the vast majority of Jordan's
armed forces are East Bankers. Entering the JAF or the RJAF
(Royal Jordanian Air Force) is seen as a career commitment,
with most soldiers and airmen serving twenty-year stints.
For many East Bankers of modest backgrounds, getting into the
military has been, and continues to be, seen as an
opportunity to gain steady employment, learn marketable
skills, access the networks of "wasta" (connections) that are
crucial in Jordanian society, serve their country, and -- for
some -- be sent to the U.S. for training. The primary
mission of the armed forces is to protect the Kingdom's
borders, whether from an invading army or from individuals
and groups that would seek to use Jordan to smuggle weapons
or drugs, or engage in acts of terror. On those few
occasions when unrest has turned bad -- such as the Black
September civil war or (on a much smaller scale) unrest in
Ma'an in late 2002 -- the JAF has been called in to assist
police in restoring order.


6. (C) The PSD is among the most professional and competent
police forces in the Arab world. The PSD's responsibilities
include investigating crimes; protecting the Royal Family,
senior government officials, foreign diplomats and other
dignitaries; border crossing point security; and -- the one
with the greatest potential for internal political
repercussions -- crowd control and suppression of civil
disturbances. Drawing almost exclusively from Jordan's East
Bank populations, the PSD -- like the GID and JAF -- has long
been seen as an avenue of opportunity for young men
(primarily) from modest backgrounds to serve their country
and provide reliable income for their families. Under the
leadership of its current Director, former JAF Lt. General
(and U.S. Army Ranger-trained) Tahseen Shurdom, the PSD has
embarked on a coordinated effort to upgrade its training and
technological capabilities (much of it supported through the
DOS's Anti Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program). General
Shurdom is not the only military general to join PSD's ranks
recently. There is a clear desire to infuse PSD with
military quality training and discipline for the events
coming soon.

The Immediate Challenges Ahead

7. (S) The possible war with Iraq will provide an immediate
test of the capabilities and loyalty of these three key
organizations. While there are clear differences in the
missions of each, they would be united in carrying out GOJ
policies that -- at least in the beginning -- would not be
popular with many Jordanians seeking to demonstrate pan-Arab
solidarity with Iraq. That said, if coalition forces are
welcomed as liberators in Baghdad and relatively little blood
is spilled, this initial burst of pro-Iraqi sentiment may
lose much of its anti-American flavor and could transform
into something potentially positive. If, however, military
action results in prolonged combat and high numbers of Iraqi
civilian casualties -- and Jordanians see their government as
complicit in this action -- the potential for anti-American,
and possibly anti-Hashemite, popular unrest could grow
appreciably. The GOJ leadership fears that such an outcome
-- coinciding with a spike in the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and/or acts of violence perpetrated by Iraqi agents
or al-Qaeda inside Jordan -- could pose challenges of a
unique magnitude for the state.

8. (C) While various "nightmare" scenarios can be
envisioned, the behavior of the security forces over the past
2 1/2 years provide some indication of their current state of
readiness. Since the Intifada began in September 2000, the
PSD has improved its crowd control techniques, recruited over
1,200 new riot control police officers and, except in a
limited number of occasions, been able to avoid the use of
force to maintain order. The PSD would seek to use this
experience to defuse situations before they result either in
violent confrontations with demonstrators or, equally as bad,
the unwillingness of its forces to confront mobs. Until now,
PSD cohesion has been firm, even in the face of difficult

9. (C) For example, in April 2002, following the IDF's
assault on Jenin, the fiercely loyal Badia police were
deployed in Amman to prevent large-scale demonstrations. The
Badia's presence was a clear signal to protest organizers
"not to cross red lines" and proved an effective deterrent to
large rallies. Even though the vast majority of Jordanians
(and probably security officers themselves) agreed with most
of the protest organizers' views, planned actions to "march
to the Israeli Embassy and burn it down" were canceled and
the most virulent calls by opposition groups dissipated
significantly soon thereafter. The November 2002 standoff in
Ma'an with Salafist Islamic extremists provided another test
of the PSD's readiness to protect the regime. While there
has been criticism of the GOJ's handling of this situation
(specifically that the PSD's approach, in this case, was too
confrontational),the PSD did what was asked of it by the
political leadership. PSD was actively supported by JAF and
RJAF forces in Ma'an.

10. (C) The JAF, in the immediate period ahead, will be
focused on protecting Jordan's borders, responding to any
humanitarian crisis that might arise should there be an
influx of Iraqi refugees, and if required, bolstering the PSD
to ensure calm and order within the Kingdom. The JAF has
earmarked the entire special operations command for
suppression of possible internal turbulence in Amman and
Zarqa. The King, PM, FM and other senior GOJ officials have
repeatedly told the Jordanian public that the JAF will not be
involved in any military action against Iraq. While there
have been reports of lower level JAF personnel airing
personal views sometimes sympathetic to Saddam or even Bin
Laden, there is no indication that this has become widespread
or problematic for JAF operations. That said, soldiers in
the JAF are not immune to the sentiments of frustration with
U.S. policy prevalent in Jordanian society as a whole.

11. (C) While the GID's immediate tasks are formidable, many
of the threats that it is working to root out have foreign
connections, a factor that makes it less likely to have
domestic political ramifications. Going after Iraqi agents
and Al-Qaeda cells who would seek to commit acts of violence
and destabilize the Kingdom is something most Jordanians see
as fully justifiable.

Over The Longer Term

12. (C) Assuming the GID, JAF and PSD handle the near-term
challenges successfully, all three institutions (but
particularly the JAF and PSD) will still face longer term
structural issues in the years ahead. On a philosophical
level, there is the question of how, or if, more Jordanians
of Palestinian origin can be incorporated into these
organizations. Memories of "Black September" in 1970 and
questions of loyalty still deter the GOJ from allowing
significant numbers of Palestinians to serve in sensitive
positions. It is likely that until some solution is found to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jordan will be unable to
resolve its own internal tensions between East and West
Bankers and the ethnic makeup of these institutions will
remain essentially unchanged.

13. (C) On a more concrete level are questions of salaries,
expertise and talent. Given the limited job opportunities
for young Jordanians in provincial East Bank communities, the
numbers seeking entrance into the military or PSD greatly
outstrips available slots. In an average year, for instance,
18,000 Jordanians will apply to fill the roughly 2,000 new
available slots in the JAF. Typically, meritocratic criteria
have played a less important role in the selection process
than tribal or other "wasta" factors. These patterns, which
may have been acceptable in the past, will prove more
problematic as the JAF (in particular) becomes a more
technology-based force that demands selection more on
qualifications than on connections.

14. (C) A related issue concerns the JAF's ability to attract
and retain individuals with high-tech aptitudes and skills to
a military career at low pay when such skills will be in high
demand at better pay in the private sector. As it currently
stands, the majority of career soldiers earn very modest
incomes. Army Captains, for instance, earn about 208 JD (USD
291) per month. (Note: Jordanian soldiers earn substantially
more when serving overseas in international peacekeeping
operations, an important factor in the GOJ's strong support
and involvement in such missions. End Note.) The PSD will
face similar issues as it too has embarked on an ambitious
program to upgrade the technological component of its work.
The GID, because of its traditionally higher salaries, faces
less pressures from this direction.

15. (C) Another challenge will be finding a politically
acceptable way to reform the overly generous military pension
system, which the IMF has said places the largest burden on
the government budget and largest impediment to the
government's goal of reducing debt and reliance on foreign
aid. The military pension system currently runs a deficit
equivalent to 3.2 percent of GDP and will peak at 4.5 percent
of GDP over the next 15 years. Pension benefits provide an
important unearmarked source of income, particularly to the
tribal and rural areas from which the military recruits.
Government proposals, supported by the IMF, to reduce
benefits and increase contributions and length of service
requirements are likely to be a major bone of contention in
relations with the military and security services over the
next few years.


16. (C) Like the other "pillars" of the regime -- the tribes
and the economic elite -- Jordan's military, intelligence and
security forces have benefited from the more than eight
decades of Hashemite rule. To ensure the loyalty and
effectiveness of these institutions in the years ahead, the
GOJ will need to ensure that it targets its resources
properly so that those who are tasked with carrying out
sometimes unpopular actions are provided the tools, training
and compensation to do so effectively and enthusiastically.