The Middle East Newsline reports Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned the Obama administration that Iran was expanding its presence throughout the Middle East.
Kiing Abdullah, in his first meetings with the Obama administration, told the White House and Congress that Iran has established strongholds in such places as Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The king was quoted as saying that Iran was using proxies, particularly Hamas and Hezbollah.
“I met with King Abdullah, who said that Hamas ministers [in Gaza] all directly follow the orders of Tehran,” U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a leading Republican on the House Foreign Appropriations Committee, said on April 23.
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The Jordanian warning came as the administration has sought to funnel $840 million in aid to the Gaza Strip as well as any Palestinian unity government that included Hamas ministers.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged Jordan’s concern, but said the Hamas regime, which has considered a coalition with the ruling Fatah movement in the West Bank, was not completely loyal to Tehran.
“We do believe that there has been some efforts to try to, you know, get more authority and opportunity on the part of those in Gaza,” Ms. Clinton said.
In testimony to the United States House Foreign Appropriations Middle East Subcommittee, Ms. Clinton urged Congress to provide “flexibility” for U.S. aid to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The secretary stressed that Washington would not directly assist Hamas.
“We don’t want to bind our hands in the event that such an agreement [on a Fatah-Hamas coalition] is reached, and the government that they are part of agrees to our principles,” Ms. Clinton said.
But administration officials and members of Congress said Jordan has warned of any arrangement that would aid the Hamas regime or movement. Abdullah was said to have stressed Iran’s expansion in every meeting in Washington during his visit in late April.
“So it’s a worry that we would provide taxpayer subsidies to a government with Hamas ministers,” Kirk said. “That’s sort of like saying, ‘Well, we would provide taxpayer subsidies to a coalition government. If it only has a few Nazis in it, but it’s okay.’“
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org