One week after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, King Hussein of Jordan began hinting broadly that instead of "king," his people should start calling him Sherif Hussein -- the title of his great grandfather. Hussein's neighbors in Saudi Arabia raised their eyebrows.
For the Saudis it was one more piece of proof that Jordan was part of a conspiracy with Iraq to invade Saudi Arabia and seize the sacred cities of Medina and Mecca. Hussein is a 33rd-generation descendant of the prophet Mohammed and a member of the Hashemite family that, in the time of his great grandfather, was the guardian of Mecca and Medina, now in Saudi Arabia.
In an emotional speech before the Jordanian parliament on Aug. 12, Hussein recalled his family's historic role as protector of the holy cities before the Hashemites were driven out by the usurping Saud family in 1924. In memory of that time, Hussein said, "He who wants to honor me shall call me by my name, and he who wants to honor me more shall call me Sherif Hussein."
It was just the indictment the Saudis needed to reinforce their paranoia. We reported recently that Saudi leaders believe the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was part of a larger plot. The plotters, in this scenario, are Iraq, Jordan and Yemen. Their plan was for Iraq to take Kuwait and northern Saudi Arabia. Yemen would invade from the south and annex southern regions of Saudi Arabia. Jordan would be given back the Hijaz region where the holy cities are.
While the Central Intelligence Agency is skeptical that Hussein would get involved in such a plot, intelligence sources acknowledge that Jordan has done plenty to fuel the Saudis' suspicions.
The Saudis and some Israelis and exiled Kuwaitis believe that King Hussein had early notice of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. King Hussein claims he knew nothing until King Fahd of Saudi Arabia called him at 6 a.m. on Aug. 2.
In the wake of the invasion, King Hussein called Saddam "trustworthy" and an "Arab patriot."
King Hussein has continued to talk about Saddam as though the king were his lawyer.
In the past, Jordan has supplied intelligence to Iraq. Saudi Arabia expelled some Jordanian diplomats in September on suspicion that they were photographing oil facilities.
Our intelligence sources believe the most significant collusion, if any exists between Iraq and Jordan, has to do with Hawk missiles. When Saddam seized Kuwait, he found about 150 American-made Hawk missiles there. The U.S. Air Force is virtually defenseless against them.
The Iraqis don't know how to use the Hawks, but the Jordanians do. According to one highly classified CIA report, there are significant indications that Jordanian military technicians have been teaching the Iraqis how to use the Hawks.
The Jordanian government denies that, but our intelligence sources say Jordan is just looking the other way while Jordanian military people get paid by Iraq to explain the Hawks. Some Jordanian military personnel who are experts on the Hawks have been given "temporary" retirement, according to our sources. That way Jordan can claim that none of its active duty military people are helping the Iraqis.