By Ali Younes
Jordanian military and government sources told the Arab Daily News late last week that US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visit to Jordan included a secret meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef and a delegation of the pro-Iranian Yemeni Houthi group currently fighting in Yemen.
Carter’s trip to the region included a stop in Israel to brief the Israeli leaders on the Iranian nuclear agreement and to discuss increasing US military aid to Israeli as a way to soften the Israeli opposition to the deal.
In Jordan, however, Carter visited the US troops stationed at Muwafaq Salti Air Base where the US air force currently work with Jordanian air force as part of the air campaign against the “ Islamic state” in Iraq and Syria.
Carter was not slated to discuss the Iranian nuclear deal with his Jordanian counterparts.
Carter also visited Saudi Arabia where he met with Crown Prince Nayef to discuss the Iranian nuclear agreement and to offer US support to Saudi Arabia.
The Arab Daily News, however, was unable to reach pentagon officials to comment on this story at the time of publishing.
But sources in Jordan say that Carter two-day stay in Amman included secret meetings with Saudi officials headed by crown prince Mohammad Bin Nayef who made a brief unannounced visit to Amman and a delegation of the Yemeni Houthi group and representative of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh currently fighting along the side the Houthis against the government of Yemen.
The secret talks are aiming to put an end to the current fighting in Yemen between the pro-Iran group and the government of President Abde Rabbo Hadi Mansour who is supported by Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies including Jordan.
In the aftermath of Houthi takeover of Yemen in the past few months, Saudi Arabia initiated an Arab coalition to wage an air campaign against Houthi targets and helped the elements of the Yemeni army and local militias gain grounds against the advancing Houthis. o word yet on the results of the talks, but one Jordanian official described it as ” an important step toward end the civil war in Yemen”.
The secret talks were aiming on reaching some sort of a deal to end the current war between all parties hoping that an Iranian cooperation, especially after the signing a nuclear agreement with the US and other Western powers, would force the Houthis to abandon their monopoly on power as well as strip former president Saleh’s of his military support inside the Yemeni military.
Jordan plays an important military role in the US and Saudi wars against the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria and against the Houthis in Yemen. The Jordanians are hoping, by facilitating talks in Amman between the Saudis and Yemenis with the help of Americans, they can achieve an end to the fighting in Yemen and solidify their relations with the new Saudi leadership and garner more financial assistance from the oil rich country.
Crown Prince Mohamm
ad Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia’s strong man and leads his country’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. He is the future King of Saudi Arabia and upon assuming power should the current King, Salman Bin Abdel Aziz pass, he would be the first of the second generations of Saudi princes to become King.
The US has increased its aid to Jordan from $660 million per year to $1 billion and agreed most recently to supply Jordan with Joint Direct Attack Monition, JDAM or laser guided bombs to replenish its depleted reserves of conventional bombs. Jordan also hosts several US military bases some of which are secret particularly one in the South West of the country that host CIA military trainers.
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