Hussein counts on tribal villages for support of Jordan's peace with Israel CLINTON VISITS THE MIDDLE EAST

October 27, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

NA'UR, Jordan -- All his life, when clear nights have made it possible to see for hundreds of miles, Abdul Salam Samarneh Ajarmeh has gazed with longing at the lights of Jerusalem twinkling on the horizon.

Yesterday, as he watched the leaders of Jordan and Israel sign a peace treaty and embrace, Mr. Ajarmeh started planning his first visit to the holy city.

"Sure, I am going to go," said Mr. Ajarmeh, smiling broadly at the image of senior Jordanian and Israeli military officers shaking hands and exchanging gifts near the close of the desert ceremony.

Mr. Ajarmeh had gathered with his brothers and some friends in the tiny bookstore he owns to watch the signing on television.

"Look how happy, how relaxed King Hussein looks," Mr. Ajarmeh said. "He is at peace with himself because he knows that he is doing the right thing."

King Hussein is counting on villages such as Na'ur to form the bedrock of support for his bold conclusion of a formal peace treaty with Israel. Lying just 20 miles south of Amman, Na'ur is home to a mix of settled Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. Several thousand Palestinians who fled west across the Jordan River in 1948, when Israel was born, or in 1967, when Jordan lost

the West Bank to Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, also call Na'ur home.

The village is organized along tribal lines, and tribes -- generally fiercely loyal to King Hussein -- form the basis for social stability in Jordan. Mr. Ajarmeh counts 20,000 members of his tribe -- nearly half the population of Na'ur. Four of his immediate relatives, he says, are army officers. One of his 11 brothers is in the police force.

"These days, there are some saying they do not recognize the state and our leadership," King Hussein told a group of army officers in a speech Monday night about opposition to the peace treaty with Israel. "We told them if we assume that

there is no state and we were back to our tribes, my tribe is the biggest, and that is the overwhelming majority of the people, and my organization is the largest in the country, and if you want to push things to the limit, we will deal with this issue."

The sons of Na'ur have for decades flocked to jobs in the army, police and "muhkhabarat," or secret police. Mr. Ajarmeh estimates that about 40 percent of the men in this village of 45,000 are employed in one branch of the security forces or another.

Over the years, they have seen the government establish new, modern schools in Na'ur, build factories and provide subsidies to those in the security forces to build homes and put their children through a university.

Na'uris, Mr. Ajarmeh said, are loyal people who trust King Hussein to make the right choices for Jordan.

"All his life, the king has worried about leaving something for thgenerations to come," Mr. Ajarmeh said. "This peace will be a good thing, I think. During all these years, we were in a state of no war, no peace. Now, we finally have a solution that might improve the economy and create more jobs."

Mr. Ajarmeh and his friends expressed the general feeling thaperhaps the signing was a bit sudden, but they had little patience for the strident opposition to the peace treaty expressed by Islamic fundamentalists in Jordan.

The Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood here, has repeatedly pledged publicly that it will do all that it can, within democratic limits, to torpedo the implementation of Jordan's treaty with Israel.

The signing of a peace treaty with Israel offers hope, Mr. Ajarmeh said, of a better life for everyone, if peace brings the economic benefits many Jordanians expect it to deliver.

Mr. Ajarmeh predicted: "There will be more jobs, business will be better. The government will not have to spend so much on the military and will give more money to local projects."

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