Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The change coming from Jordan | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Two weeks ago, I visited Amman. Shortly before the airplane wheels touched the runway, I was struck by a fear of entering the unknown and of moving towards a critical stage. This anxiety was compounded by the fact that a security guard was sitting on board the aircraft, a somewhat unfamiliar scene in the aviation world. The guard was sitting next to the passengers and observed us uninterruptedly throughout the journey.

Prior to my visit came the news that a group of terrorists had been arrested, having crossed the Syrian border into Jordan. Then came the details of those terrorists’ targets; shopping malls and diplomatic headquarters, most notably the US embassy. Other explosions were also to be carried out in order to divert attention.

Once again we heard the same doubts raised by those who love to promote them, arguing that governments often fabricate such terrorist plots in order to justify tightening their security grip. Yet whilst I was in Jordan, someone pointed out to me: “It would be of no benefit to the Jordanian authorities, whether politically or economically, to publicize rumors of terrorist groups targeting shopping malls and diplomatic missions, because such news would definitely tarnish our country’s image. Why would we do this?” Indeed, after the plot was exposed, the Jordanian government did not seek to tighten its security grip, thus I believe we can rule out the claim that these terrorists are fabricated.

Because Jordan is located in the midst of a highly tensioned area and is a constant target, security becomes a requirement for survival. In this part of the world, the security apparatus is the most important government authority, and it faces a truly awesome challenge. Yesterday, Jordan was Syria’s gateway for vegetables and tourists, and today it is a gateway for refugees and fleeing politicians, after the Turkish route failed and the Syrian rebels were unable to secure liberated areas. It is for this reason that the Jordan’s current circumstances are unfavorable, as described by the King himself in his speech before thousands of citizens. The Jordanian borders are overcrowded with tens of thousands of refugees escaping from the Syrian hell, whilst Jordan’s gas imports from Egypt have almost ceased entirely, although no one knows exactly why. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan are seeking to exploit the revolutionary climate in the region in order to achieve political gains. Such pressures may have prompted Jordan to avoid getting involved in the Syrian revolution thus far, but in the end geography is stronger than any political decision. The Syrian regime failed to fully take into account Jordan’s capabilities when it displaced tens of thousands of Syrians by continuously targeting villages and cities for more than a year. The al-Assad regime was only thinking about exporting its crisis as well as intimidating its neighbors such as the Turks, the Lebanese and the Jordanians.

I met with His Majesty King Abdullah Bin al-Hussein, who still has clear vision in this cloudy part of the world, and I heard about his country’s policy for dealing with not only the current situation but also the immediate future. Jordan is a stable and successful model of governance, which some regional powers are trying to destabilize. Jordan has always been known for its political and Islamic moderation, whereas the Arab Spring states – and Syria may be included here at a later stage – have all imposed stringent political Islam. Of course, we welcome all forms of moderate Islamist rule, in other words that which does not seek to exploit religion for political goals, but in our region we are used to the political Islam models along the lines of Iran.

As for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, some thought it would be among the first states to be immersed by the flood of change in the region. They believed a state of modest economic potential could not withstand such change, but none of this has happened. Others also claimed that Jordan’s stance at the beginning of the Syrian revolution was cautious because it feared the collapse of the dam – the al-Assad regime – would cause it to drown in the flood as well. Yet the recent developments, the latest being the Amman gathering that aimed to build a united Syrian opposition front, prove that Jordan is more than just a place for Syrian refugee camps, it is also a capital for the Syrian revolution. Jordan may in fact be the most successful in achieving what others have failed to do, and bring down the al-Assad regime with all its supports; Iraq, Iran and Hezbollah.