JORDAN'S King Abdullah has removed the powerful chief of his intelligence service as part of efforts to reduce its role in political life, officials said yesterday.
Samih Asfoura, a career intelligence officer and a U.S.-trained expert on “counter-terrorism”, has replaced Saad Kheir in the most influential post after the monarch, they said. In contrast with his highprofile predecessor, who sat with the king in tete-a-tete meetings with world leaders during his four-year tenure, the new chief of the General Intelligence Department (GID), known widely as the mukhabarat, is expected to take a less conspicuous political role. “His majesty has ordered glasnost within the agency as part of changes at the top to accelerate Westernleaning pro democracy reforms,” said a senior Jordanian official. Security officials say the king recently ordered the agency to cut down on arbitrary arrests and its heavy-handed tactics against political dissidents. The GID was accused of extending an already pervasive influence in public life as it steered Abdullah's smooth transition of power after the death of King Hussein in 1999.

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