Jordan’s King Abdullah II received a red carpet welcome when he arrived at the White House Tuesday July 24. Although the event was classified as a private dinner, President George W. Bush and the First Lady personally greeted the royal motorcade with a parade of Marines in dress uniform. The Bushes and their guest then disappeared inside the presidential residence without public statements.
While a communique was released stating the two held talks on renewed efforts for an Israel-Palestinian peace, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources reveal the subject of their private get-together was quite different: An indirect, sharp warning from Tehran whereby an American attack on Iran would be countered not only with a missile assault on Israel, but an equally heavy missile offensive against Amman and other Arab countries
According to our sources, Iranian officials conveyed the message in recent meetings with the United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Kuwait emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah. They were told that Iran was making preparations to flatten the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and other of its cities, while also targeting US bases in Jordan.
When the Iranian officials were asked by one of the Gulf rulers why Jordan was singled out for devastation when the kingdom posed no threat to the Islamic Republic, they replied that Tehran regards the Hashemite king as “the most effective and loyal American agent in the Middle East”. He was described as “blindly obeying every order coming down to him from Washington.”
Asked which other Arab states were in line for attack, the Gulf rulers learned that their own sheikdoms were not immune, especially those hosting American bases. But those attacks would be “limited in scope,” they were told, nothing like the scale of the missile blitz destined for Israel and Jordan.
Our sources report that the Iranian threat was issued ahead of the second meeting of US and Iranian ambassadors, Ryan Crocker and Hassan Kazemi Qomi, with Iraq’s foreign minister Hoshyra Zebari, on Tuesday, July 24.
For Iran, talking does not preclude violence
Tehran is clearly keen on an open channel of communication with Washington, while at the same time showing its belligerent edge in case of an American attack.
The tripartite meeting in Baghdad therefore led to the creation of a US-Iranian-Iraq subcommittee, the first permanent framework for US-Iranian dialogue on Iraq security issues. The American side complained that Iran is giving sophisticated weapons to Iraqi insurgents for killing American and Iraqi soldiers, which Iran absolutely denied. But Ambassador Crocker said: “This is not something we’re trying to or need to prove in a court of law.” He added that insurgents captured by American troops have told investigators they are backed by Iran.
As in the case of Jordan, away from the conference chamber, Tehran is undiplomatically blunt about its intentions. Shortly before the Baghdad conference, former Iranian president Hashem Rafsanjani was quoted as saying: “The United States is the most important country in the world. Iran is the most important country in the region. It is logical for them to settle their differences.”
America, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and their likes in the Gulf region will hardly go along willingly with this definition, but they are all painfully conscious that Tehran is in full-flight of a far-reaching regional thrust, a key aspect of which, involving French president Nicolas Sarkozy, will be explored in a separate article in this issue.
The mullahs of Tehran believe Washington is secretly pushing the French initiative. As a self-styled regional power, they are determined not just to force the Americans to treat them as equals in direct diplomacy, but to persuade the Bush administration to finally give up its military option against Iran’s nuclear program and start working with Iran in the region. The Americans for their part are not entirely averse to this approach.