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Paper Reports on Jordan`s King Moscow Visit, `Intelligence Cooperation`
Al-Quds al-Arabi Online
February 22, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and King Abdullah II of Jordan meet in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

Report by Bassam al-Baddarin from Amman: “Unpublished Details and Diplomatic Obsession Asking: What Happened in a Closed Meeting Without an Interpreter Between the Jordanian King and President Putin?”

A select group of Western diplomats was on tenterhooks on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning (19-20 February), having been obsessed with the attempt to get an answer to the following question: What is it that exactly took place between Russian President Putin and King Abdallah II in the closed meeting, specifically after all the members of the delegation were asked out, the door was closed, and the interpreter was expelled? The suspense was created by Novosti News Agency when it said, while introducing its report on the meeting, that the two leaders spoke in the presence of the official delegation and the protocol staff through a specialized interpreter; Putin spoke in Russian and the Jordanian king spoke in English. However, they later closed the meeting, and Putin asked everybody to leave and he closed the door of his presidential office.

Logically speaking, expelling the interpreter means that there was a very frank discussion between the two leaders, in English, without the presence of any person from either side, after closing the door when the first official meeting concluded. Al-Quds al-Arabi sources say that this first meeting did not exceed 25 minutes.

What happened as soon as Novosti broke the news is what matters; Western diplomats started scrambling to get in touch with Jordanian officials and politicians to find any piece of information that could satisfy their curiosity as to why the meeting was closed in a sensational and acrobatic manner in Moscow. The senior officials of Amman and the members of the advisory and protocol staff did not have more knowledge than those who asked them. The protocol of the meeting did not include such a tete-a-tete in a manner that would be picked up and reported by the Russian media.

The questions raised by diplomats in Amman prove that there was no prior information about what the leaders of Russia and Jordan would discuss. Both leaders are “crucial” for the Syrian file. The composition of the Jordanian delegation, which appeared on TV, suggests exceptional importance of the Jordanian stopover at the Moscow station.

The most powerful general in the Jordanian security establishment, General Intelligence Director Faysal al-Shawbaki, was seen carrying several files in the opening session in front of cameras. Meanwhile, sources of the Jordanian delegation that left the place before closing the door confirmed to Al-Quds al-Arabi that the staff assisting both sides had no knowledge of what was going to happen. Putin and Abdallah II exchanged a lot of gestures and expressions of courtesy and respect.

It was clearly observed that “Jordan” suddenly disappeared from the “Hot Files” section on the website of the Russia Today Satellite Channel on Tuesday evening. This section includes a permanent chapter for most countries of the Arab Spring with the exception of the Syrian ally. The meaning here is that Amman has obtained some privilege within the context of the Russian friendship and in a quick and surprising manner.

The observations gathered by Al-Quds al-Arabi from several experts on Russian thinking and from Russian media sources indicate that understanding the level of utmost importance that could have been discussed between Putin and the Jordanian monarch is possible to estimate when reviewing the files and issues that the joint meeting discussed and the expressions uttered by both leaders about each other.

Here, it was clear that the Jordanian monarch laid down the foundations of an attention-grabbing fulcrum while speaking at the opening of the meeting with Putin about what Al-Quds al-Arabi sources called “development of joint cooperation not only in the defense and military fields, but also in the intelligence field.” Here, the Jordanian monarch was exclusively quoted as saying that relations of coordination and cooperation in the security field are developing.

Apparently, the question certainly has backgrounds or common perceptions that were previously discussed on lower levels before the summit of the top leaders. This practically leads to a conclusion that alludes to a common security strategy, which, it seems, required the presence of top and important security figures in Jordan with the delegation traveling to Moscow.

In this narrow space specifically, tens of questions can be asked on the media, political, and diplomatic level. The visit of a Jordanian delegation to Moscow took place based on a US mandate, as Amir Sabayilah, a researcher specialized in the Syrian file, asserts is the most probable scenario. However, the logic of trends assumes that “intelligence” relations specifically between the two sides “developed” in fact against the background of one scene, which is the Syrian file.

Sabayilah`s view is simple; he presented it on a special show on Sky News Arabia that analyzed the visit. Since the eruption of the Syrian crisis, the king of Jordan has been closer than the other Arab leaders to the Russian logic, and he continued to warn of terrorism and urge a political settlement and peaceful transfer of power in Damascus.

The monarch of Jordan, according to Sabayilah, has managed to convey his philosophy as a framework to the most important decision centers in Washington, London, and Europe throughout the past months. Consequently, he was able to influence the Western and American mood, and, by default, the Arab mood. This is something that Putin likes and that supports his options in Syria and makes him describe the Jordanian monarch as a “personal and deal friend,” according to a news report in an electronic newspaper called Moscow Now.

This is why public comments reveal a background of intelligence cooperation whose secrets are most probably found in those files that the Jordanian general was holding. Here, there are some details that could explain some part of the scene. Jordan has set up a security committee to maintain contacts with the Russians and provided them and the French with information about some of the things going on in Mali. It is preparing itself for a confrontation, which could be long-term and somewhat frightening, with the Al-Nusrah Front operating on Syrian soil. Jordan is also getting ready to cooperate with the Syrian front; it has previously exchanged information with the security echelon of Bashar al-Asad and conveyed certain impressions to Saudi Arabia that adjusted its mood toward the Syrian issue.

These features practically place Amman in the category of “friends” of the Russian security station and later of the strategic link, especially since another expression that the Moscow press quoted the Jordanian king as saying, while he was hinting at the common areas between both countries, referred to a common bid to develop cooperation programs in the field of “combating terrorism.”

The significance of this expression is clear. Politically, Amman used to promote its “special” commodity in the field of facing jihadist and extremist movements and its expertise to the US and Western ally. Today, however, it appears to be ready to harmonize with Russia as well in the same field as long as the matter does not upset Washington. After all, it was Washington that placed the Al-Nusrah Front on the top of the terror list. Today, Amman is talking about “fascist” Islamists and terrorism in Syria, which gives it a warm spot in the Russian bosom.

However, a very exclusive source has mentioned to Al-Quds al-Arabi another fulcrum on the scene of the Jordanian-Russian summit, which appears when going too deep in analyzing an expression that the king said and that was naturally ignored by the state-run media in his country. This expression shows a bet on Putin in offering help in a very narrow corner related to the peace process in the region. The former addressed the latter, noting that President Putin is an important friend of Jordan and that there is hope that “he would help us in dealing with the requirements of the peace process.”

Explaining this reference can only be through the impression that Jordan is “upset and uncomfortable” and feels that it could face confusing pressures later that require seeking the help of the Russian bear. In other words, the king is implicitly telling the Russian president: “We will be with you in Syria and against the Al-Nusrah Front, and you should stand by us in the peace process.”

The question now: Why would the king of Jordan say this? Why is he looking for a “key role” for Russia in a peace process and political settlement of the Palestine question in a space that has always been reserved for the United States? Logically, it is assumed that Jordan has enough fears to work within a strategy that pushes the Russians to get involved more in the peace process since the game of deciding options in Syria will end up by the world moving to decide the options of the peace process.

Amman seems to be interested in a friendship with Moscow that achieves for it a qualitative edge, especially after the friends and allies in Europe, America, and the Gulf club have let it down financially and economically.

An important additional issue can explain the Jordanian fears. Some Western diplomats in the capital, Amman, including the British Peter Millett and the American Stuart Jones, have been organizing sessions for “brainstorming” that try to explore the following option: Writing off Jordan`s foreign debt in return for resettling the Palestinian refugees of Syria in Jordan.

This is a “suicidal” option and unacceptable for the Jordanian decision room. It is believed to be the reason for the fears of so-called final settlement after closing the chapter of what is happening in Syria. This requires having Putin, Bashar al-Asad`s friend and ally and his practical savior, as close as possible to the Jordanian logic, which fears the scenario of Syria evicting the Palestinians toward Jordan.

Putin is the only one who can guarantee that the Damascus regime will not commit such stupidities (transfer), which will cause great chaos inside Jordan. The Jordanian regime is not in a position to handle such a situation now at a time when Western diplomats have the scenarios of concern under the heading of the economic crisis. UK Ambassador Millett is asking everyone he meets in Amman: What are you going to do in May, financially and economically?

The economic file was strongly present in the meetings of the king of Jordan in Moscow, according to dozens of reports in the Russian press. The king again asked Russia to help in building a peaceful “nuclear reactor,” which Israel has been obstructing for 10 years. Putin hinted at Russian investments on the way. Novosti carried a report, which said that the meeting discussed building a nuclear power plant and large-scale joint projects, along with developing the infrastructure and important projects in the field of energy and mining, while expanding cooperation in human fields, such as developing education and training. The Russian news agency said that the two leaders are planning to exchange views on international issues, including the situation in Syria and the settlement in the Middle East.

In June 2012 when Putin visited Jordan, it was agreed to launch the Russian-Jordanian mechanism for the international government committee concerned with trade, economic, and technical scientific cooperation. The two governments are preparing to sign an international project within the context of cooperation in the fields of education and culture. Around 600 Jordanian students currently study in Russia. Besides, scholars and funds have been extended to train 12 Jordanian scientists in nuclear physics. In December 2009, the Russian Cultural Center was opened in Amman, and in January 2011, a Russian center was opened at the University of Jordan to promote the Russian language.

If these huge cooperation projects get under way amid the Jordanian economic and financial crisis, they will bring about a coup in Jordan in favor of the Russian scenario in Syria. Furthermore, they could go deeper and produce alliance trends that are totally new to the traditions of the Jordanian establishment, especially if the most appropriate prelude is terrorism and security and guaranteeing Russia`s interests in Syria and, most importantly, cooperation in the field of intelligence.

(Description of Source: London Al-Quds al-Arabi Online in Arabic -- Website of London-based independent Arab nationalist daily with strong anti-US bias. URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Report Analyzing Syrian Factor Behind Jordans Sudden Turn to Russia, King Visit
Al-Quds al-Arabi Online
February 20, 2013

Report by Bassam Baddarin in Amman: Jordan, With a US Mandate, Is Trying To Remain in Contact With the Russian Scenario. Bashar al-Asad Insists on Staying in Power, and He Praised Amman`s Non-Hostile Stand

The Jordanian monarch`s opening on Moscow`s window is a renewed attempt to come closer to the Syrian scene hoping to get a “different story” for the events that seems to be restricted, according to the given facts, to Amman`s sitting with the rest of parties on the table when the time for the political settlement comes if this is possible.

The impression that is left in the regional scene by Amman`s sudden push toward Moscow indicates that the Russian scenario, and for reasons that are related to the US calculations, has become the only paper available in the Syrian scene with a direct and implied mandate from the administration of President Barack Obama, as strategic analyst Dr Amir al-Sabayilah said. Amman is trying to obtain additional information about this paper.

Therefore, the Russian-Jordanian summit between King Abdallah II and President Putin is expected to witness “open discussions” that do not deal only with the features and the endings of the Russian scenario as much as they deal with Jordan`s enthusiasm for a role, at least to preserve its interests as long as the other allied parties are leaving the arena for Moscow and are giving it the necessary mandate.

According to Al-Sabayilah, who is closely specialized in the Syrian file, the Jordanian monarch`s stop in Moscow has not been declared and has been made with a US mandate and with an implicit agreement that the “enforcement” of the Russian proposals would mean coming closer to a more comprehensive political settlement in the region that goes beyond Damascus and its complex to include very sensitive issues and files that are directly related to the Jordanian interests.

Therefore, the Jordanian establishment expedited, for example, working out strategic concepts for the difficult and important issues, including the future of the Jordanian-Palestinian relations, the final status of the Palestine question, and the issues of water and gas. For this reason, the Jordanians are trying to be in contact with the Russian scenario concerning Syria, and they are carrying three central files in the form of concerns, most prominent of which is the very bad economic and financial situation, and going to Israel in a bid to import gas after Cairo and Doha let Jordan down as far as the gas imports are concerned. The third of these concerns is the rising influence of the jihadist Al-Nusrah Front in Syria.

Behind the scenes, Jordan has stopped the privileges which defecting Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab sought to get and has begun to exchange intelligence information with the regime of Bashar al-Asad. It also stopped the Safist jihadist endeavor to build up their elements on the border points even if it continued to receive the refugees on the basis that their issue is the one that will ensure for Amman the chance to sit on any international table that will discuss the comprehensive settlement in Syria in the future.

Jordan`s urgent and vital need of gas will lead Amman to “worse” relations with the rule of Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi soon, and the Russian insistence on a political settlement that does not end with the ousting or the departure of President Bashar al-Asad and the lack of a US effort, on the other hand, that works in the opposite direction are basic factors today for the priorities of the Jordanian decisionmaker.

In parallel with this, the Jordanian establishment`s opening on the Russian window is not only for the hope of having a role or preserving interests, but it is within the framework of a new strategy that tries to draw the attention of the Syrian leadership that Amman has maintained balance as much as possible concerning the Syrian issue and that it has rebelled against the Turkish-Qatari scenario, and contributed in “adjusting” the Saudi stand and mood, and it was having a viewpoint that calls for political dialogue in Damascus instead of violence and fighting.

This is taking place aft er a courtesy phrase the Jordanian activists who recently met with President Al-Asad quoted him as saying, which implied a praise for the current Jordanian stand that is “non-hostile” to Syria, and which is a phrase that proved to the Jordanian diplomacy that Russia is most probably serious while trying to arrange the table for the political settlement in Syria without the options of the departure of Al-Asad before the end of his constitutional term in 2014.

President Bashar al-Asad told the activists from Amman who support him that “he will stay in power,” and denounced the talk that he will not run for a new presidential term in 1914, pointing out that he may run and he may stay in his clinic among his kinfolk in Damascus.

These hints have been closely studied by the Jordanian establishment, particularly since they were told to Jordanians whose sources said that it is likely that the difference deep in the scene is no longer on the departure of Al-Asad`s regime or the identity, features, and shape of the political settlement that is patronized by Moscow at present but it is likely focusing on a central point in the form of a question: Is it a quick transition of power in Syria after a settlement that ends up with targeting Al-Nusrah Front, as Amman proposes, or a slow transition of power that ensure a safe exit for Al-Asad after 2014?

On this basis, Jordan is coming closer to the Russian area while it is convinced that the likelihood of the fall of Al-Asad`s regime has become distant, and that Israel has been drowned in regional calculations, and Obama`s administration seems to be “tending” to leave the Russians to engineer things at least until next May, at a time when the Saudi agenda has changed and the Qatari-Turkish wave has retreated with looming measures against it.

Based on this, Amman is trying “to remain in contact” with Moscow in order to guarantee rooms of maneuverability that keep it an active party in the scene as much as possible or at least a party that sits on the table during the sharing of tasks and the drawing of concepts and not just a party that is on the receiving end.

(Description of Source: London Al-Quds al-Arabi Online in Arabic -- Website of London-based independent Arab nationalist daily with strong anti-US bias. URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


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