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Thanks to Shraga Elam and Al-Awda for this, f.


Gordon Thomas
Israel’s hard-line prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has ordered his defence
forces to prepare to drive “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians on the
West Bank over the border into Jordan.
Jordanian intelligence chiefs say the operation will commence on the day
the forthcoming United States conflict starts against Iraq.
Sharon believes that will give him “a just excuse” to remove the
Palestinians – as they would then pose what he has called “a totally
unacceptable threat to the safety of Israel”.
Details of his plan have been leaked by Jordanian intelligence to Western
intelligence services, including MI6.
The revelation will almost certainly deepen the split within the Cabinet of
Tony Blair about Britain’s continued support for military action against
Saddam Hussein.
King Abdullah II of Jordan revealed his own fear about Israeli intentions
on his recent visit to London.
He told Tony Blair and President Bush that any military action to remove
Saddam would open a “Pandora’s Box that would turn the entire Middle East
into a cauldron”, a senior Jordanian intelligence officer said.
“Driving out Arafat and his Palestinians would lead to an uprising in the
Middle East against everything Western”, he added.
Of immediate concern to Abdullah is that his own tiny kingdom – “a mere
pimple on the rump of Arab nationalism” was how one Western intelligence
report describes Jordan – could be swept away.
Its Arab neighbours have not forgotten that in 1991, King Abdullah’s late
father, King Hussein, lent his support to Saddam.
But Abdullah has been pressurised by Washington to allow some 4,000
American troops to mass in the southern desert of Jordan. They are now
preparing for the assault on Iraq.
With them are some 200 British Special Forces – who are expected to
pathfind the route to Baghdad when the conflict starts.
Abdullah knows that in the event of conflict, Saddam could block the routes
into Baghdad by deporting a million Iraqi “refugees” into Jordan.
He could also cut off Iraq’s imports of cheap oil to Jordan.
Jordan, already finding it has insufficient water for its 5 million
population, would then find itself paralysed.
With the prospect of an influx from the West Bank of Palestinians and the
pro-Iraqi sentiments of many Jordanians, who are bitterly opposed to King
Abdullah’s acceding to American pressure, the 40-year-old monarch could
find himself toppled – or even assassinated.
An indication of how close that could come is that Bush has now provided
the king with a bodyguard of US Special Forces. They have orders to fly the
monarch and his family to the United States – if his bodyguard decides
their lives are in danger.
Footnote: Sharon’s new plan to drive out the Palestinians comes in the wake
of his fury that the Sunday Express had obtained details of his earlier
plan to snatch Yasser Arafat and dump him in Lebanon.
The paper’s world-exclusive story last weekend was the main news on
Israel’s Channel-2 television and in the country’s newspapers. Media across
the Middle East and Europe also carried detailed confirmation of the story.
Sources close to Sharon said he was “furious about the leak and had ordered
a top level enquiry into how details had been passed to the Sunday Express”.


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