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Monday, February 8, 1999 Published at 13:07 GMT

World: Middle East

Analysis: Gulf states united in mourning

Jordan's tacit siding with Iraq during its invasion of Kuwait upset Gulf states

By Gulf Correspondent Frank Gardner in Dubai

When Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz arrived in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Sunday, he made a statement that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Jordan's sorrow
He said Jordan had always been dear to Saudi Arabia and that Saudis would defend Jordan with their lives.

Yet Saudi Arabia's King Fahd took years to forgive King Hussein for tacitly siding with Iraq when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. Aid from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states all but dried up and thousands of expatriate Jordanians and Palestinians were expelled from the Gulf.

Ties between Jordan and the Gulf had been warming in recent months but the death of King Hussein has drawn to a close a period of uneasy forgiveness by the Gulf states.

Unprecedented solidarity

The Gulf Arab states have declared official periods of mourning with the monarch's death drawing unprecedented displays of solidarity from Gulf rulers.

[ image: Kuwait declared two days of mourning after the death of the
Kuwait declared two days of mourning after the death of the "great leader"
As a sign of solidarity with Jordan, Kuwait is flying its flags at half-mast throughout the country and at its embassies abroad.

The United Arab Emirates have declared a 40-day state of mourning, with government offices closed for three days. The country is also depositing hundreds of millions of dollars with the Central Bank of Jordan to help shore up the economy at this volatile time.

Jordan's new King Abdullah bin Hussein is at least a generation younger than most Gulf rulers but he has already forged links with many of the region's princes.

Although the Gulf states are concerned at the size of the economic and political challenges now facing Jordan, the new King Abdullah will find a receptive audience amongst Gulf rulers if he calls for their support.

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