Hussein rebuffs US, dims hopes for new Mideast steps in '84
Washington — King Hussein of Jordan seems to have confirmed what most Middle East analysts here already knew - that there would be no progress toward an Arab-Israeli peace in this election year.
But the King's criticism this week of the Reagan administration's Middle East policies has caused a minor storm here.
In Congress, Hussein's remarks appear to have decreased already diminishing prospects that new arms sales to Jordan will be approved.
In the administration, the remarks have caused dismay.
The attack on American policy came only one day after President Reagan, in a speech to the United Jewish Appeal, had called for understanding of his proposals for military aid to Jordan. Mr. Reagan said in the Tuesday speech that such aid would not threaten Israel.
According to a State Department official, the timing of Hussein's remarks, delivered in a Wednesday interview with the New York Times, was ''astounding.''
Hussein said that the United States, through what he described as one-sided support for Israel, had lost its credibility as a Middle East mediator. He charged that ''principles mean nothing to the United States'' and that ''short-term issues, especially in an election year, prevail.''
The King spoke only a month after a visit to Washington, during which he had held seemingly cordial talks with President Reagan. In the interview, Hussein said, however, that ''things have gotten worse'' since that time. He cited congressional opposition to military aid for Jordan as an example and suggested there were other reasons as well.
Jordan, he said, has been ''taking a terrific beating'' in the US Congress. He said congressmen friendly to Israel had opposed proposals from the Reagan administration to provide Jordan with $220 million worth of equipment and supplies for use by Jordanian units in case of an emergency in the oil-producing regions of the Gulf.
The Jordanians cannot understand why there should be so much opposition to a plan, known as ''joint logistics planning,'' which would be of potential usefulness to the United States and coordinated with the US.
Congress has also put up stiff resistance to the proposed sale to Jordan for protection against Syria of $133 million worth of ''Stinger'' antiaircraft missiles with launchers.
The House Middle East subcommittee and the full Foreign Affairs Committee recently approved a ban on sales to Jordan of ''advanced'' weapons unless the President certifies to Congress that Jordan is ''publicly committed to recognition of Israel'' and agrees to negotiate with Israel.
At the same time, the Foreign Affairs Committee has approved other provisions , including $2.5 billion in grant aid to Israel for the fiscal year 1985, which the Congressional Quarterly says add up to ''one of the most pro-Israel'' foreign-aid bills to emerge in recent years.
In what was billed as a major Arab response to American policy, Clovis Maksoud, the chief representative here of the League of Arab States, said that at the top of the list of what he described as policy flaws was a failure on the part of the United States to ''penalize'' Israel for defying the US.
Ambassador Maksoud described the current Reagan administration attitude toward the Middle East as one of ''brooding.''
In a speech prepared for delivery yesterday to the Woman's National Democratic Club, Mr. Maksoud also decried what he called the ''overriding impact of politics over policy'' in the US approach. He cited as examples: (1) A bill by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) of New York proposing that the US move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; and (2) presidential candidates ''falling all over each other'' to make statements of support for Israel.
Joseph Sisco, a former US undersecretary of state and Middle East negotiator, argues, however, that regardless of developments in the American presidential election campaign, the Middle East ''peace process'' has little chance of getting off the ground this year.
Dr. Sisco says Syria is now in a strong enough position to block any peace initiatives by either King Hussein or Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. And the setback for the US in Lebanon, he says, probably added to King Hussein's caution.
''What everyone has got to begin to look at is whether the situation offers any opportunities for 1985,'' says Sisco, who has maintained his contacts with Middle East leaders.
''We're going to have to broaden the agenda. It will have to include not only Jordan but also Syria.
''This raises the specter of whether Syria will insist on some Soviet participation, as it has in the past,'' he said. ''We will avoid a large-scale war, because neither Syria nor Israel wants it. . . . But the cycle of violence and counterviolence will continue. We're in for a very, very difficult period.''