Less than a week ago – before suicide bombers killed 57 people at Amman hotels – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was seen by many Jordanians as a homegrown holy warrior battling U.S. troops in occupied Iraq.
After the bombings, claimed by al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in Iraq, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets throughout the kingdom, shouting: “Burn in hell, al-Zarqawi.”
“All Jordanians – even fanatic Muslims – are changing their minds (toward Islamic extremist attacks) because of what they saw happen to innocent people” in Amman, said Ibrahim Hreish, a jeweler in the Jordanian capital.
In Jordan, a close U.S. ally heralded in the West for its moderation, there has been strong support for militant attacks against what Islamist and independent newspapers described as legitimate targets – Israeli soldiers or U.S. troops in Iraq.
But amid a spiraling of violence in neighboring Iraq and numerous foiled terror plots here in Jordan before Wednesday’s strikes, views toward terrorism have started to change.
Most of those killed in the triple hotel bombings were Arabs and Muslims – and the targets included a Jordanian-Palestinian wedding reception.
TV talk shows and newspaper columnists have been focussing on the suicide attacks and whether Muslims should condone them in part or total.
“There has (long) been empathy among Jordanians for insurgent strikes against military targets in Iraq, particularly against U.S. forces,” said Mustafa Hamarneh, a researcher who has conducted surveys on domestic attitudes toward suicide bombings.
“I believe we will now begin to see a change in how the country’s press reports events in Iraq, such as suicide bombings and in public attitudes,” he said.
Jordanians, along with the rest of the world, need to realize that the Islamists terrorists have already sorted humanity into two classifications: in one category, those who will help them destroy and then reign in a bloody and fascist fury of extremist Islam; in the other, potential victims. It’s that simple for the radical Islamists. It should be that simple for us.
Jordan is one of the United States’ staunchest allies in the region, and it is also the “new” Iraq’s closest Arab ally, having done more than any other Arab state to help facilitate Iraq’s transition in the post-Saddam Hussein era.
This and the global “war on terror” have left Jordan in a precarious position, highlighted by last week’s bombing of three hotels in Amman, the capital, in which nearly 60 people died.
Such generous use of quotation marks. The “article” goes on to “detail” Jordan’s efforts so far against the Islamist threat and to “question” the Jordanian mindset.
The U.S. military broadened its offensive in western Iraq on Monday, launching a major attack on insurgent positions in the town of Ubaydi near the Syrian border and killing about 50 insurgents in precision airstrikes and house-to-house street fighting, according to news reports and the U.S. military.
U.S. and Iraqi troops reportedly faced stiff resistance from machine-gun and small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
“This is a fight all the way through the city,” said Col. Stephen Davis, commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team 2, describing the fighting, according to CNN, which had a producer embedded with U.S. troops. Davis said that his forces were encountering “significant resistance” and that they had found three buildings wired with explosives and numerous roadside bombs and car bombs. U.S. officials said about two dozen insurgents had been captured.
“Insurgent fighters have been battling with Iraqi and Coalition Forces since the operation began at dawn,” a military statement said. “A suspected car bomb placed in the advance of Iraqi Forces was engaged with a round from an M1A1 tank. The blast from the tank initiated a secondary explosion powerful enough to throw the car onto the roof of a nearby building.”
Happy hunting, troops, and best wishes.
By the way, it must have been fun to have been in that gunner’s seat, squeeze the cadillacs, and then put a round into a bomb-laden car and watch the fireworks through the thermals. Most of you folks wouldn’t understand the feeling of staring into a scope, firing a 120mm and having the awesome machinery rock and roll about a foot to the left of your head as your powerful effort screams destructively exactly where you wish to put it. Eric could tell you more about it.
British officials have begun to talk, however gingerly, about withdrawing their troops from Iraq.
On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was “entirely reasonable” to “talk about the possibility” that the troops could begin leaving by the end of next year. The discussion, he added, “has got to be always conditioned by the fact that we withdraw when the job is done.”
His comments came a day after the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, said in a television interview that Iraqi soldiers could replace British troops in southern Iraq by the end of 2006. “We don’t want British forces forever in Iraq,” Mr. Talabani said on ITV1. “Within one year, I think at the end of 2006, Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British forces in the south.”
Let’s not be so hasty. Please see the next story.
Talks on the withdrawal of United States-led foreign troops from Iraq can begin at the end of next year, said Iraq’s president on Monday.
President Jalal Talabani, in Austria to attend a three-day conference on Islam, gave no timetable for the full pull-out of troops, but said Britain probably could start a “step by step” exit in 2007.
On Friday, Iraqi deputy prime minister Ahmad Chalabi said US troops could begin leaving in significant numbers some time next year.
But US President George W Bush has refused to set a timetable, saying that would play into the hands of insurgents.
See my thoughts on exit strategies and time tables here. In short, they bring a short-term political gain with the danger of an actual loss in true national goals. No war effort has ever been successfully carried out with the foolishness of an exit strategy or a timetable for withdrawal. Oh yeah, exactly when are we leaving Bosnia?
U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday sought to counter Democratic critics of the Iraq war by turning their own past words of warning about Saddam Hussein against them.
“Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war — but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people,” Bush said in a campaign-style speech accusing Democrats of playing politics with the issue and trying to rewrite the past.
He spoke to U.S. troops in an air base hangar in Alaska, a refueling spot for Air Force One carrying him on a week-long Asia trip that Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said would be long on conversations about top priorities but not likely to include any breakthrough agreements on simmering trade issues.
He quoted statements made in 2001 and 2002 by three Senate Democrats, though he did not quote them by name.
While I may not agree with the decision for the prez to come out swinging (mildly) on Veterans Day, the swinging had to be done sooner rather than later. The Democrats have played nothing but obstruction on every domestic effort put forth by the administration — and make no mistake, the administration and the Republicans have been the only ones trying to move anything forward — but also have viciously savaged the administration over the prelude to the Iraqi campaign, falsely twisting the Scooter Libby indictments as a statement againt pre-invasion intelligence manipulation and utilizing an all-too-willing and gullible press to curtail public support for our military efforts.
Did I say Bush had to start fighting back sooner rather than later? I meant that it is well past time that the public hear more of the duplicity of those who have been oh-so-freakin’-publicly undermining our efforts, hoping to grab defeat from the jaws of victory in the Viet Nam mode, only for their personal and party gain at the expense of the possible future security of our republic.