The United States has taken an attitude of outward calm, tempered by some private anxieties, toward Jordan's offer of aid to Iraq. US officials do not expect Jordan to send troops into the fighting between Iraq and Iran. At the same time, State Department officials say the US has made clear to Jordan's King Hussein its opposition to any widening of the Iraqi-Iranian war.
The US has some leverage with Jordan, because of longstanding friendly relations and arms supplies to that Arab nation. But ties havebeen strained in recent years among other things because of Jordan's objections to the US-sponsored Camp David peace agreement. King Hussein has called it a "separate peace" that cannot satisfy the aspirations of the Palestinians.
If Jordan wer to send regular troops into the Iraqi-Iranian fighting, they would almost certainly carry American equipment. Under US law, the Americans would then have to cut off aid to Jordan. But US officials do not think King Hussein will risk alienating the United States in such a manner.
The evidence so far is that Jordan is dispatching food and other nonmilitary goods to Iraq.Jordan also is apparently allowing Soviet supplies that could not be sent directly to Iraq because of the fighting to be sent there by way of the Jordanian port of Ababa. Jordannian trucks are being mobilized for the effort.
Jordan has long been considered a proWestern nation. But the Jordanians also have long felt that they were being taken too much for granted by the United States. In an interview early last year, King Hussein complained that the Carter administration had engaged in "arm twisting" in its bid to sell him on the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. King needed to be "brought down a peg."
The monarch visited Washington last June, and his talks with President Carter seemed to restore some warmth to the old relationship with the US. But there has been considerable criticism of King Hussein in the US Congress for standing aloof from Camp David. The King has continued to insist that Israel withdraw from occupied Arab lands, as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 242. The King also has moved closer to other Arabs, including one old enemy of the Israelis and Camp David, Iraq.
Jordan also receives aid from other Arab nations, particularly from Saudi Arabia. But thanks to its oil revenues, Iraq has been able to give Jordan an estimated $200 to $300 million a year.
Diplomats say that at times the Saudis have given the impression of treating the Jordanians as "poor cousins." Cementing ties with Iraq could balance Jordanian dependence on Saudi Arabia. But like the US, King Hussein is believed to want to avoid seein gthe war spread to the rest of the Gulf.