In a harsh attack on Saddam Hussein from an unusual source, King Hussein of Jordan said it was “the right time for change” in Iraq’s leadership.
“If a change occurs, it will only be a change for the better,” the king said in an interview published Monday in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.
The king is a traditional ally of Iraq and was one of the few regional leaders who tilted toward Saddam in the 1991 Gulf War.
King Hussein praised the defection of Saddam’s son-in-law, Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid, who was granted asylum when he reached Jordan last week with his family and an entourage of army officers.
The Jerusalem Post reported that al-Majid coordinated the defection with U.S. officials. Al-Majid decided to defect only “after he was assured by the CIA that the move would be welcomed and rewarded,” the Post quoted an unidentified Israeli security official as saying.
CIA spokesman Dave Christian said the agency had no comment on the report.
But while the king denounced Saddam, Jordan’s prime minister stressed that his country would not be used as a springboard for anti-Saddam political activity.
Prime Minister Zeid Bin Shaker held a closed-door meeting with members of Parliament and said that Jordan “granted only a humanitarian asylum” to the defectors.