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Tuesday, August 31, 1999 Published at 21:30 GMT 22:30 UK


Reaction to Hamas crackdown

Musa Abu Marzuk and Khaled Mashaal are among those sought by Jordan

The militant Palestinian group Hamas and Iran drew a direct link between Jordan's crackdown on Hamas and the imminent visit to the region by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, saying Jordan was yielding to pressure from Washington.

Hamas on Tuesday urged Jordan to reconsider its move, but played down the impact of the arrests and raid on its offices in Amman.

For its part, the radical Syrian-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) accused Jordan of "violating the simplest of human rights and the bonds of fraternity and destiny among the sons of the one people of Palestine and Jordan".

The PFLP-GC statement, quoted by Palestinian Al-Quds radio, said Jordan's move "will be very harmful to the struggle of our Palestinian people and their unrelenting resistance to the Zionist occupation".

'Unacceptable measures'

Both Hamas and the PFLP-GC oppose Palestinian moves to revive the peace process with Israel.

Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said Jordan's actions "do not conform with the good relations that the movement has always maintained through its long march, its policy of non-interference in domestic affairs".

"Hamas exercises open and ordinary political and media activities and it has introduced nothing new to push the Jordanian Government to adopt such unacceptable measures," said Mr Yassin, in a statement quoted by the Egyptian news agency MENA.

"We greatly regret these unjustified steps, and call on the government of Jordan to reconsider these measures and to cancel them, to protect the relationship and links between the Jordanian and Palestinian people."

US pressure

A Hamas official in Amman, Ismail Abu-Shanab, told Radio Monte Carlo that "US pressure is being applied with the aim of influencing the independent decisions of Hamas" and "this action is connected with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to the region".

But the Gaza spokesman for Hamas, Mahmud al-Zahhar, said the Jordanian crackdown on Monday "will not substantially affect the movement's activity".

"It might affect it partially; however, the essence of the movement exists inside Palestine.

"There is nothing to fear," Mr Zahhar told Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV.

"We think that Hamas has wide Palestinian and Jordanian popular support ... This measure might harm the friendship and good ties between the movement and the Palestinian people on the one hand, and the Jordanian Government."

Jordanian unease

Iranian radio said Jordan's crackdown appeared to be a response to US and Israeli pressure but also signified the authorities' concern about Hamas activities inside Jordan.

In a commentary, the radio said the fact that four Hamas leaders had left Jordan before a warrant for their arrest had been issued "shows that they may have known about the plans of the Jordanian security police".

The radio said the crackdown "is an indication of the Jordanian Government's willingness to fall into step with the demands of America and the Zionist regime to rein in Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas" .

"In exchange, the granting of new financial assistance to Jordan by America may have been a reward for Amman's recent measures against Hamas.

"Nonetheless, it cannot be disregarded that the Jordanian Government was not very happy about the presence of Hamas within Jordan's Palestinian community," the radio said.

Warning

In November the Jordanian weekly Al-Hadath reported that senior Hamas officials in Amman had been warned by the Jordanian authorities.

It said Amman Governor Talat al-Nawayisah had summoned Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal and Hamas representative Mohammad Nazzal and informed them of a government decision prohibiting Hamas from making "any statements inciting people to launch military operations against Israel as long as they are on Jordanian territory" .

Mr Nawayisah warned them that if they continued such incitement, they could "look for another Arab capital," the paper reported.

The warning came before the death of King Hussein and the new administration of his successor, King Abdullah.

Jordanian police have issued arrest warrants for Mashaal, Nazzal and two other Hamas leaders active in Jordan.

Source: BBC Monitoring, Caversham 31 Aug 99

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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