Saudi Arabia expelled most of the Yemeni and Jordanian envoys in Riyadh on Saturday, and Saudi sources said the diplomats were suspected of planning terrorist acts with Iraqi diplomats, who also were sent home.
"The Iraqis are engaged in espionage, looking for places for terrorism, and the Saudi secret police has concluded the Jordanians and Yemenis were trying to assist them," said one of the sources. "We have decided it is time to burn bridges."The Saudi Foreign Ministry confirmed the expulsions. It said the diplomats were engaged in unspecified "activities jeopardizing the peace and security of the kingdom."
Yemeni diplomats said the Saudis were expelling all but four of the 50 staff members at Yemen's embassy. High-ranking Jordanian officials in Amman said Saudi Arabia ordered the expulsion of 20 of Jordan's embassy personnel. It wasn't immediately known how many Iraqis were sent home.
Meanwhile, a flight described as the last U.S. airlift out of Iraq left Baghdad Saturday.
Finance officials of the world's seven richest nations said in Washington on Saturday that spiraling oil prices threaten the global economy with higher inflation and slower growth. (See story below.)
Iraq's Saddam Hussein expressed new determination to hang onto his war trophy, Kuwait, and King Hussein of Jordan called for an early withdrawal of U.S. forces from the gulf region to prevent "disastrous repercussions."
Neither Jordan nor Yemen has openly sided with Saddam, but both are considered weak links in the embargo against Iraq, and there is widespread popular support for Saddam in both countries.
King Hussein, whose appearance from Amman on Cable News Network was billed as an appeal to the American people, complained that the United States appears "unwilling to even consider a negotiated settlement between Iraq and Kuwait and unwilling to accept a compromise short of an unconditional Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait."
That position, he said, imperiled hopes for a diplomatic settlement.
"We must avert an explosion in this highlyinflammable area straddling the world's richest oil reserves that would cause untold death, destruction and misery with disastrous repercussions far beyond this vital region and this period of human life," the Jordanian monarch said.
Unlike Jordan, Egypt has supported the multinational military effort. Three ships carrying the first few thousand members of a 15,000-strong Egyptian infantry division landed Saturday at the western Saudi port of Yanbu on the Red Sea.
President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia said he planned to send 200 men to join the multinational force.
Americans stranded in Kuwait and Iraq by the invasion had a final chance to get out of Baghdad aboard a U.S.-chartered flight that left Saturday. The State Department said it was the last such charter planned.
The Iraqi Airways Boeing 707 carrying 140 people landed in London Saturday night. About 2,500 Americans have left Kuwait and Iraq since the Persian Gulf crisis erupted on Aug. 2. Hundreds of families have been wrenched apart by the evacuation of Americans and other Westerners from Iraq.
The Baghdad government has been allowing women and children to leave but is holding most Western men, scattering some at key Iraqi installations as human shields against attack. President Bush says the presence of the remaining Americans - believed to number more than 1,000 - will have no impact on his military and policy decisions.
Also Saturday, Iraq confirmed what Western governments had disclosed a day earlier - that it had imposed a new round of expulsion orders and restrictions on European, Arab and U.S. envoys.
Iraq's Foreign Ministry said it had closed down military sections at 10 embassies, ordered the military attaches and their aides expelled and restricted the movement of the remaining diplomats.
The announcement, carried by the official Iraqi News Agency, listed the countries affected by the Iraqi decision as the United States, Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
U.S. officials, meanwhile, have been making a steady round of visits to foreign capitals aimed at drumming up support for the multinational force facing Saddam.
Saddam, meanwhile, was quoted as blaming the U.S. buildup in Saudi Arabia for Iraq's decision to annex Kuwait.
"Kuwait is now ours," the Turkish daily Milliyet quoted him as saying. "We might have refrained from taking such a decision if the U.S. troops were not massed in the region with the threat of invading us."