Thursday, March 27
US soldiers 'are using Jordan to enter Iraq'
By Justin Huggler in Maan, Jordan, The Independent. 28 March, 2003

This dusty, impoverished corner of Jordan is making the country's authorities nervous. For one thing, there is the protest against the war in Iraq that the people of Maan plan to hold today – a protest they call the "march of the coffins".

Then there is the military base at Jafr, 50 miles away in the desert, where locals say they have seen hundreds of US soldiers arrive in the last few months, plus trucks carrying tanks and armoured vehicles.

It encapsulates Jordan's dilemma – how to juggle the pressure from its ally, the United States, to help with the war in Iraq, with the fury of a population that is opposed to it.

Salfa abu Tayi – the grand-daughter of Auda abu Tayi, the Bedouin fighter of Lawrence of Arabia fame – says she has seen US soldiers at the base, and tanks covered with canvas. It is an open secret that small teams of US, and possibly British, special forces are operating in western Iraq out of Jordan.

Out at the Jafr military base, Blackhawk helicopters could be seen flying in – confirming one part of her story. It was not possible to confirm any more before Jordanian security arrived to say the road was closed.

The Jordanian government has admitted there are 6,000 US troops here, but says they are only here to protect Jordan from Iraqi missile attack and train Jordanian troops.[...]
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