Amman, March 9 (Reuters): Jordan has allowed an Iraqi opposition group to set up its main base in the country in an overt signal of support to opponents of Saddam Hussein ahead of a possible US-led war against Iraq, the group said today.
Officials at the Iraqi National Accord (al Wifaq al-Watan al-Iraqi) said the secular group, which has since 1996 had only a low-key presence in the kingdom, had moved its leaders to Jordan this month. “We have moved our London headquarters to Amman and our key leadership has now begun to operate from Amman, dictated naturally by current events,” an official said.
Jordanian officials confirmed the move.
Political analysts say the decision by Jordanian authorities to give a major Iraqi opposition group a free hand to spread anti-Saddam propaganda is a public signal the kingdom is severing ties with its former ally and no longer courting President Saddam Hussein. Officially, Jordan says it has good ties with the government in Baghdad.
Wifaq is the only Iraqi dissident group officially licensed to operate in the pro-Western country.
Jordan, a key ally of the US in the region, has given Washington authorisation to use its territory as a base for American special forces to attack Iraqi anti-missile batteries and troops stationed in the western desert. Wifaq is headed by Iyad Allawi, who defected from the ruling Baath party in the 1970s and allegedly escaped an assassination attempt by the Iraqi government in London in 1978.