US embassy cable - 85AMMAN2676 (original version)

JORDAN'S REFUGEE CAMPS: ARAFAT SHINES AGAIN (original version)

Identifier: 85AMMAN2676
Wikileaks: View 85AMMAN2676 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Amman
Created: 1985-03-16 14:02:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL KPAL PREF JO
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
P 161402Z MAR 85
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2603
INFO AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
AMEMBASSY CAIRO
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMEMBASSY TUNIS
AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
C O N F I D E N T I A L AMMAN 02676 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, KPAL, PREF, JO 
SUBJECT:  JORDAN'S REFUGEE CAMPS:  ARAFAT SHINES AGAIN 
 
1.  (C - ENTIRE TEXT) 
- 
2.  UNRWA'S JORDAN FIELD DIRECTOR HALLQVIST SAID HE 
AND THE CAMP DIRECTORS HAVE DETECTED A STRIKING 
TRANSFORMATION IN ATTITUDES TOWARD ARAFAT AND 
THE PLO AMONG PALESTINIAN REFUGEES IN THE WEEKS 
FOLLOWING KING HUSSEIN'S FEBRUARY 19 ADDRESS. 
IN THE LATTER HALF OF 1985, THE PLO'S IMAGE IN 
THE CAMPS SANK TO A LOW EBB WITH RESIDENTS COMPLAINING 
ABOUT PLO INTERNECINE RIVALRY AND CORRUPTION, 
ARAFAT'S WEAK LEADERSHIP AND DOUBLETALK, AND, 
PARTICULARLY, THE DRYING UP OF PLO MONEY (FOR 
SCHOLOARSHIPS, WIDOWS' PENSIONS, PERSONAL LOANS, 
ETC.).  THE DEPRESSED FORTUNES OF THE PLO WERE 
VISIBLE IN MANY WAYS:  FATAH ACTIVISTS AMONG THE 
REFUGEES KEPT A LOW PROFILE, TWO UNRWA UNIONS 
OUSTED THEIR PRO-FATAH CHAIRMEN, AND THE NUMBER 
OF DELEGATIONS TO PLO OFFICES DROPPED TO A TRICKLE. 
AT THE SAME TIME, KING HUSSEIN GAINED RESPECT FOR 
HIS PEACE EFFORTS.  REGARD FOR HASHEMITE RULE 
VIVIDLY MANIFESTED ITSELF IN NOVEMBER 1985 WHEN 
CROWN PRINCE HASSAN PAID AN UNANNOUNCED OFFICIAL 
VISIT TO THE AMMAN NEW CAMP (POLITICALLY THE MOST 
ACTIVE REFUGEE CAMP) THE DAY ARAFAT ARRIVED IN 
AMMAN.  HASSAN QUICKLY ATTRACTED A LARGE AND 
FRIENDLY CROWD (ALBEIT WITH THE HELP OF THE EVER 
PRESENT SECURITY FORCES).  CAMP NOTABLES AT THE 
TIME PLEDGED SUPPORT FOR THE HASHEMITES, POINTEDLY 
IGNORING MENTION OF THE PLO, AND RESIDENTS SPOKE 
WARMLY ABOUT THE VISIT FOR WEEKS AFTERWARD. 
- 
3.  THIS MOOD HAS CHANGED MARKEDLY.  CAMP RESIDENTS 
INITIALLY WERE INDIFFERENT TO THE KING'S SUSPENSION 
OF RELATIONS WITH THE PLO.  THE ANTI-PALESTINIAN 
OUTBURST OF MANY EAST BANKERS HOWEVER AFFECTED 
THE EMOTIONS OF CAMP REFUGEES AS WELL AS OTHER 
PALESTINIANS.  REFUGEES ALSO RESENTED THEIR 
ENFORCED APPEARANCES AT THE PALACE TO DEMONSTRATE 
"SUPPORT" FOR THE KING.  SOME CAMP NOTABLES SAID 
SECURITY OFFICERS CAME TO THEIR HOMES DEMANDING 
THEIR ATTENDANCE EVEN BEFORE THE KING'S SPEECH 
WAS BROADCAST.  FURTHERMORE, CAMP RESIDENTS HAVE 
NOT MISSED HUSSEIN'S LACK OF SUPPORT FROM THE 
ARAB WORLD FOLLOWING HIS SPEECH AND HAVE ALSO 
NOTED AN APPARENT LACK OF RESULTS IN THE KING'S 
EFFORTS WITH SYRIA:  ASSAD HAS YET TO VISIT AMMAN. 
A SENSE HAS DEVELOPED OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS 
THAT HUSSEIN HAS LOST ARAB BACKING, THAT HE HAS 
WRONGED ARAFAT, AND THAT HE HAS TRIED TO EXPLOIT 
THE PALESTINIANS. 
- 
4.  HALLQVIST VISITED DOZENS OF NOTABLES AT EACH 
OF THE CAMPS DURING THE PAST SEVERAL WEEKS.  ALMOST 
ALL EXPRESSED ADMIRATION AND SUPPORT FOR ARAFAT, 
SOMETHING ONE DID NOT HEAR A MONTH AGO.  "ARAFAT 
IS OUR LEADER," MOST SAID SIMPLY.  HALLQVIST ASKED 
A NOTABLE IN IRBID WHAT HOPE FOR PEACE HE COULD 
EXPECT FROM ARAFAT.  "THERE IS NO HOPE FOR PEACE 
IN THIS GENERATION, BUT ARAFAT IS RIGHTLY EXPRESSING 
OUR JUST CAUSE," HE WAS TOLD. 
- 
5.  COMMENT:  THE SHIFT IN ATTITUDES IN THE 
PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMPS MIRRORS, TO A GREAT 
EXTENT, THE SHIFT IN THE PALESTINIAN 
COMMUNITY AT LARGE.  IN SUM, HUSSEIN'S 
IMPLICIT CHALLENGE TO PALESTINIAN NATIONALISM 
CAUSED THE PALESTINIANS IN THE CAMPS TO CIRCLE 
THE WAGONS AROUND ARAFAT, DESPITE THEIR EARLIER 
IRRITATION WITH SOME ASPECTS OF THE PLO'S 
PERFORMANCE. 
 
BOEKER 

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