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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09AMMAN2770 2009-12-22 12:03:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

NEW GENDARMERIE DIRECTOR WILL LIKELY STRENGTHEN

Tags:   PGOV PINS PINR ASEC JO 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: As part of a broader shuffling of senior
positions in the Jordanian Government (ref A), a Royal Decree
on December 15 replaced Gendarmerie director Major General
(MG) Tawfiq Halalmeh with a retired Jordanian Armed Forces
(JAF) General, MG Tawfiq Tawalbeh. Sources in the JAF also
say that King Abdullah II will likely soon appoint another
retired JAF General to replace MG Mazen Al Qa'adi as head of
the Public Security Directorate (PSD).



2. (C) Contacts in the JAF and the Gendarmerie believe this
is a clear signal the King plans to strengthen the role of
the Gendarmerie in internal security and improve coordination
between it and PSD. Since the Gendarmerie was established as
an independent security force in January 2009, the two police
forces have been plagued with operational missteps and
bureaucratic jockeying which some observers say may have
contributed to violence during civil disturbances in separate
incidents in Ajloun, East Amman, Ma'an, and Aqaba this year
(ref B, C, D). PSD officials fear that under the new
leadership, the Gendarmerie may be empowered to exceed its
legal authorities, which PSD believes limits it to supporting
PSD only when called. End Summary.

New Gendarmerie Director Close to King


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





3. (C) Sources in JAF and PSD say MG Tawalbeh was
handpicked by the King and is a personal friend, known to the
King from his own service in the JAF. As a Colonel in JAF,
Tawalbeh commanded an armored brigade in which the King (then
Prince and a Captain in JAF) had served as a unit commander.
Contacts say Tawalbeh is not well known by Minister of
Interior Nayef Qadi who may not have been consulted on his
appointment.



4. (C) Contacts also say the appointment is significant
because it is the first time that the head of this security
force has been selected directly from the military. The
previous director was serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the
JAF when he was asked to lead a unit within PSD's Special
Police (the legacy institution to the Gendarmerie). He rose
to command of the force from within the PSD as have all
previous directors. MG Tawalbeh retired from the JAF in 2005
and has been studying law since then.

A Stronger Gendarmerie in the Making


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





5. (C) Contacts in PSD and JAF say that Tawalbeh's
appointment to head the Gendarmerie, and the possible
selection of another JAF General to head PSD, signals a
renewed focus on strengthening the Gendarmerie and improving
coordination between the two police services.



6. (SBU) Since the Special Police split from PSD in
January, 2009 to form the Gendarmerie, this new force has
suffered from weak administrative and other support
functions, and lack of support from the Ministry of Interior
(MOI). Although widely viewed as having a capable cadre of
approximately 15,000 members with specialized training in
SWAT and riot control, the Gendarmerie has lagged in fully
standing up its administrative departments and internal
courts; in strategic planning; and in lobbying effectively
for resources within the MOI.



7. (SBU) In addition, the Gendarmerie and PSD have been
plagued by coordination problems since the Gendarmerie's
inception. In major civil disturbances this year in Ajloun,
East Amman, Ma'an, and Aqaba in which both Gendarmerie and
PSD deployed, the forces were left pointing fingers at each
other with accusations of operational missteps each says
resulted in unnecessary violence.



8. (C) Tawalbeh is viewed as someone who will be effective
in handling both of these issues because of his independence
from the MOI and his relationship with the King -- especially
if he has a JAF colleague as his partner at the helm of PSD.
At the same time, PSD officers close to the current PSD

AMMAN 00002770 002 OF 002


Director, MG Mazen Al Qa'adi, say they fear that under the
new leadership the Gendarmerie may grow to exceed its legal
authority and take over key policing functions now performed
by PSD.



9. (C) COMMENT: The Gendarmerie is emerging as a critical
element in Jordan's internal security architecture,
especially because of its specialized capabilities in riot
control and counter-terrorism. Since it was established, the
Embassy and USG security assistance programs such as the
Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program have formed valuable
partnerships with the Gendarmerie which we expect will not be
affected by the change in leadership. Strengthening the
Gendarmerie's support infrastructure and the coordination
between it and PSD, if it materializes under the new
director, would be a welcome improvement. END COMMENT
Beecroft