|A flag bearing the emblem of the Special Air Services (SAS). © Cathal McNaughton / Reuters|
The leader of the Middle Eastern state, who has been in power since 1999, gave this frank regional assessment to congressional leaders, including John McCain and Paul Ryan, in a closed-door meeting during his visit to the US back in January. Minutes from the briefing have now been obtained by the Guardian via an unsanctioned leak.
In the most substantive revelation, the royal said that Jordanian special forces operating in Libya had been embedded with a more sizeable British SAS contingent to help them overcome cultural barriers, including understanding “Jordanian slang [which] is similar to Libyan slang.”
|U.S. President Barack Obama meets with King Abdullah of Jordan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 24, 2016. © Kevin Lamarque / Reuters|
The security intelligence agency Stratfor had already alleged the UK’s involvement earlier this month, saying that SAS units had been “escorting MI6 teams to meet with Libyan officials about supplying weapons and training to the Syrian army and to militias against the Islamic State. The British air force bases Sentinel aircraft in Cyprus for surveillance missions around [ISIS-controlled Libyan city of] Sirte as well.”
However, David Cameron has refused to provide any information on this even to closed parliamentary committees, saying earlier this week that the SAS is already “subject to international law as everyone else is in our country but I do not propose to change the arrangements under which these incredibly brave men work.”
Officially, Britain will station 1,000 troops to help train locals in Libya and aid its teetering government in the near future, but so far none have supposedly been sent to the country, which has been in the grip of an ethnic and sectarian war since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The Prime Minister’s office has refused to answer press calls concerning the latest leaks, The Guardian says.
Other statements made by the 54-year-old King Abdullah are more gossipy, but indicative of deep rifts between the US and Saudi-headed coalitions tasked with eliminating Islamic State and restoring the rule of law to the region.
Abdullah said that Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan “believes in a radical Islamic solution to the problems in the region.” He went on to say that “that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy, and Turkey keeps getting a slap on the hand, but they get off the hook.”
The revelation comes just after the announcement of a deal that Turkey struck with the EU earlier this month to aid it in solving its refugee problem in exchange for billions of euros.
|Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. © Umit Bektas / Reuters|
Israel is accused of “looking the other way” when it comes to Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra, which controls large swathes of land in Syria including territory on the Israeli border, because the group is “an opposition to Hezbollah,” the Iranian-funded Lebanese militia fighting for President Bashar Assad in the Syrian conflict. There have previously been accusations in the media claiming that Israel was even giving medical treatment to al-Nusra fighters before sending them back out on the battlefield, and that a direct communication link had been established between the Israeli army and the terrorist group. The IDF has always denied these allegations, however.
Historically, Israel has never turned anyone away from medical treatment, even their worst enemies. As for 'sending them back out' - makes it sound as if they are working for Israel. When Israel releases someone from hospital, it is not responsible where that person goes unless he is a criminal or enemy.
King Abdullah’s biggest warning came regarding al-Shabaab, an east African jihadist group with a lower profile than ISIS, Boko Haram and others, but which has begun to “feed into Libya.”
|An Islamist fighter from Al-Shabaab Mujaahidin. © Feisal Omar / Reuters|
“Jordan is looking at al-Shabaab because no one was really looking at the issue, and we cannot separate this issue, and the need to look at all the hotspots in the map. We have a rapid deployment force that will stand with the British and Kenya and is ready to go over the border into Somalia,” he told congressmen.
The Jordanian embassies in the US and UK have refused to verify the claims, while one congressman has admitted to the Guardian that the briefing did happen, but would not authenticate its talking points.