Wednesday, February 21, 2007

AP humour story falls flat

Condoleeza Rice met yesterday in Amman with the heads of the national intelligence agencies of four countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE. According to a variety of different accounts, an anonymous US source told reporters their main topic of discussion was--you guessed it--formation of a national unity government in Palestine! (I'm pretty sure I saw an AP story to that effect, but in any effect that is also the gist of the Azzaman version this morning). However, Al-Quds al-Arabi says "observers think this meeting was in preparation for an American escalation against the Iranian presence in Iraq".

Participants included the big names, Omar Suleiman for Egypt and Prince Bandar bin Sultan now head of national security for Saudi Arabia, which shows the importance attributed to whatever it was they were talking about.

The Al-Quds reporters leave it at that. They then note that the biggest Jordanian opposition party, the Islamic Action Front, welcomed Rice to Jordan with a statement accusing her of inciting breakup of the unity of the Palestinian people, and of working to sabotage the Mecca agreement, fairly straightforward points. It would be interesting to see if they are included in the AP version of this. The leader of the IAF warned the government against cooperating with Rice "in sowing the seeds of fitna in the region, and in blowing up the Mecca agreement", adding a warning against "yielding to this American and Zionist usurpation [of the Palestinian process]".

The IAF leader also said the Jordan government needs to reply to a tendentious story that appeared the day before in the Israeli paper Maarif, that talked about a Jordanian plan to sideline Hamas, by first having Abbas form a peace agreement of some kind without the participation of Hamas, then arrange for new elections where Fatah could run on the peace platform. The Maarif story added that King Abdullah of Jordan commited to getting the big Arab regimes (in particular the four mentioned above, which Maarif has taken to calling the "Arab quartet") to approve of this plan and also to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. The implication seems to be that Maarif described the Jordanian "initiative" as having been foiled by the Mecca agreement. In any event, the IAF leader said the Jordanian administration needs to reply to the story.

Found it! The AP story is available here.


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