NEW YORK (Sep. 26)
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States this week publicly attacked King Hussein of Jordan for misrepresenting the facts in the Persian Gulf crisis.
In doing so, Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud used two arguments usually heard only from Israelis or their supporters. Rarely have Arab spokespersons made such statements in public.
Prince Bandar’s attack was made in the form of an open letter to Hussein. It was published Wednesday on the op-ed page of The New York Times under the headline “Facts Are Stubborn, Your Majesty.”
The piece was a response to a speech the Jordanian monarch addressed to the American people, broadcast last Saturday by the Cable News Network.
In that speech, Hussein urged the United States to remove its troops from the Persian Gulf. Among other arguments, the king said there was some justification for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. After all, he said, the border between the two countries had been artificially created by Britain out of its own self-interests and without regard to those of the Arab states.
The king also insisted that the Gulf crisis must be seen in the context of the plight of the Palestinian people, who he said have been denied a homeland of their own by Israel. Hussein said he supported the Palestinians in their bid for self-determination.
In his open letter, Prince Bandar took issue with Hussein’s right to make either claim.
The Saudi ambassador seemed particularly annoyed at the king’s reference to the way Kuwait’s border with Iraq was created. In effect, he reminded Hussein that Jordan was an artificial creation of the British, which in 1923 carved the kingdom out of what was then the British Mandate of Palestine.
JORDAN’S ROLE IN WEST BANK QUESTIONED
It was also a reminder that Hussein and his family did not belong in Jordan. The Hashemites had been the rulers of the Hejaz region of what was then known only as Arabia. They were ousted by Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, with the aid of the British. When Arabia thereafter became Saudi Arabia, the British offered Abdullah Jordan as a consolation prize.
“You say the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border is disputed and based on a historical record created by the colonial British,” Bandar said in his letter, “Your Majesty, you should be the last one to say that. Not only all your borders but your whole country was created by the colonial British.”
As for Hussein’s claim that he supported the Palestinians in their quest for a state of their own, Bandar pointed out that Jordan was “responsible for the Palestinian homeland on the West Bank from 1948 to 1967.
“Why in all that period did you not give them their rights and statehood?” the prince asked. “And how would the occupation of Kuwait (by Iraq) give our brother Palestinians their homeland? Facts are stubborn things.”
Left unsaid by Bandar was the fact that Jordan actually annexed the West Bank in 1949. Only two nations, Britain and Pakistan, ever recognized this move. No Arab country accepted Jordan’s sovereignty over the territory.