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ARABS' FURY AT ZARQAWI
by Amir Taheri
New York Post
November 11, 2005

November 11, 2005 -- THE suicide bombings Wednesday that killed 56 people and injured 118 others in Amman, Jordan, represent the deadliest event in the kingdom's history since the 1970 civil war.

And it is certain that one reason for the attacks' success was the Jordanian authorities' smug complacency over the past two years.

Ever since the start of the terrorist insurgency in Iraq in 2003, Jordan's leadership has pursued an ambiguous policy to hoodwink its American allies while appeasing the Islamist terror groups in their quest for regional and world domination.

Until Wednesday, Jordanian leaders were almost proud of their two-faced policy.

On the one hand, Jordan was making money by letting the U.S.-led Coalition use the kingdom's territory to ferry supplies to Iraq in exchange for exorbitant transit fees plus enough free oil to cover half of the nation's needs. Jordan has also helped train a limited number of Iraqi police and army officers, largely as a symbolic move to calm critics in Washington.

Yet the kingdom also took on the role of undeclared ally of the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq.

The half a dozen or so groups that constitute a political facade for the insurgents have been allowed to set up shop in Jordan, hold conferences and coordinate a propaganda campaign against the elected government in Baghdad. The up-market quarters of Amman have become home to the Iraqi Ba'athist nomenklatura, including Saddam Hussein's several wives and daughters.

Jordan has always been a safe haven and playground for the Ba'athists. In 1990, the late King Hussein opposed the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. That encouraged Saddam to use Jordan as an extension of his Iraqi hinterland: He and his henchmen created shell companies in Jordan to beat the U.N. sanctions, taking over a couple of Jordanian banks, investing in real estate and laundering vast sums of money.

After Iraq's liberation, Jordan became a refuge for Ba'athist criminals and their families — who brought with them some of the estimated $500 million that Saddam's Vice President Izzat Ibrahim reportedly stole from the Central Bank in Baghdad before the regime's fall.

Since then, Jordan has emerged as a center for anti-Iraq — and, more specifically, anti-Shiite — propaganda. Members of the elected Iraqi parliament and government have become persona non grata in Jordan, while Jordanian diplomacy has worked overtime to isolate Iraq within the Arab League. Last year, Jordan's Vice-Premier Marwan Muasher prided himself in what he claimed was the success in "not taking sides" in Iraq.

The official Jordanian account of the attacks was designed to reflect the "not taking sides" policy. The state media said the suicide-bombers had meant to kill Americans and other Westerners connected with projects in Iraq. But we now know that the victims of the attacks were Muslims, mostly Jordanians, who had nothing to do with Iraq. Many were ordinary Ammanites attending a wedding party.

Jordan's leaders should know that it is impossible not to take sides on Iraq. Last August, Islamist terrorists underlined that fact by launching rocket attacks in the Jordanian port of Aqaba, killing and wounding over 30 people.

The Islamist terrorists base their ideology on the claim that they hold the sole and ultimate version of The Truth — to which everyone must either submit or die. They don't want allies, but slaves, and have no time for the kind of double-game the Jordanian leaders have played.

Jordan's leaders must regard the Amman attacks as a wake-up call. Their refusal to take sides in Iraq won't protect them against terror attacks. The only way Jordan can ensure its long-term safety is to help defeat the Islamists whose prime objective today is to defeat democracy in Iraq.

There is no evidence that the hypocritical policy has significant support even within Jordan. In fact, the opposite may be true.

Just hours after the attacks, hundreds of Ammanites had gathered on the scenes of the carnage to express horror and condemn the perpetrators. By yesterday morning, the crowds had grown to tens of thousands of people — shouting slogans that the Jordanian leaders, starting with King Abdullah II, would be foolish to ignore.

Such as "Death to Zarqawi" — that is, the Jordanian-Palestinian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has claimed responsibility for the latest atrocities in Amman.

As cries of "Burn in Hell, Zarqawi!" reverberated in central Amman, speakers described Zarqawi and other Islamist terrorist figures (including the fugitives Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri) as "traitors and miscreants" and called for their arrest and punishment.

The demonstrations, organized by trade unions, attracted some of Amman's poorest people. This was a clear message: Islamism and Ba'athism may have support among Jordan's elites — but they are rejected by the people.

Until not so long ago, Palestine was supposed to be the cause that justified any abominable crime. Now Iraq is used for the same purpose. But one thing is clear: The Jordanian man-in-the-street does not believe that it is right to kill innocents in the name of any cause.

It is time Jordan's leaders understood the message of their people, and joined Iraq's new democratic leadership in fighting the common terrorist enemy.

Iranian author Amir Taheri is a member of Benador Associates.

 

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