The Gulf: The Beleaguered Messenger

Squeezed by the conflicting demands of two old allies but well versed in the art of survival, Jordan's King struggles to keep his balance

For almost four decades, the diminutive ruler has been exceptionally successful at one thing: survival in an unforgiving and violent region. But last week Jordan's King Hussein sped off to the U.S. in hopes of extricating himself from one of the most dangerous crises of his reign. His mission: to initiate a solution to the gulf confrontation that would also free his country from the irreconcilable demands of two old allies, the U.S. and Iraq.

Washington seeks Jordan's cooperation to close the economic noose around Iraq, starting at the Red Sea port of Aqaba. But Saddam Hussein, who has taken the...