Sunday, November 13, 2005

Our security services

Typically, Jordanians have mixed feelings about their security services, particularly the intelligence service, or mukhabarat. On the one hand, in normal circumstances, much of what they do comes off as heavy handed and obtrusive. On the other hand, these services are remarkably effective. In a sense, they are so effective that we take security for granted in this country. The country is not a police state, in the sense that there is a high profile and presence wherever you go. So, there is an intricate balance between security and normalcy which is quite remarkable, especially in the Middle East.

This Elaph report says that the Zarqawi terror cell does not seem to have had any contact with Jordanians, which is probably why they were not caught in time. I believe that the capture of Sajida Rishawi will yield important information about what happened and will make it even more difficult for such things to happen in the future. Thus, her capture is an important achievement for the investigation, which is ongoing. The police and mukhabarat certainly know much more than what they are telling us, which is a good thing. I am sure that Zarqawi feels pretty stupid giving up this important clue. But he just had to brag about his great achievement.

So, I would like to salute the police and mukhabarat, and hope that they keep up their exceptional standards.

5 Comments:

At 8:39 PM, Blogger jameed said...

i was with a friend yesterday discussing the issue. we reached a conclusion that zarqawi could have never carried out the attacks using Jordanians or having any contact with Jordanians because almost all (if not all) radical islamist groups are infiltrated by the mukhabarat.

 
At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The recent terrorist attack in Jordan is a horrendous act that must be condemned by all ethical standards. Targeting civilians, regardless of the reason, is an unjustified act. Yet a mere condemnation will do us (those who oppose the act) no justice. We must attempt to understand how such an act could be imagined, come to be, and tolerated. Unfortunately, theories of conspiracy (Israel or the United States are behind the attacks), do not assist us in such an analysis. They are always brought in to help fill the gap in an already flowed political understanding of the crisis itself.

Also, the ambiguous calls for “national unity” as put forward by the Arab regimes, in this case the Jordanian, become ever more attractive, as we fail to direct our understanding at how the regime itself, via its notion of unity against the “greater threat,” is implicated in giving birth to such violence.

It is not conspiracy neither a “Jordanian Sept 11”

The government in Jordan is trying to pitch the attacks as a "surprise" attack, or sort of "Jordanian Sept. 11." Others talk about some “Mosad” conspiracy theory. However, this sort of action was widely expected in Jordan, given the increase in similar attempts during the past year or so. The government kept a led on their imminence, bragging about the superiority of its own security apparatus so not to disturb the burgeoning financial markets.

But why is Jordan targeted in the first place? 1) The track record of the Jordanian official policy of “cozying with the US,” assisting it in its war and other terrorizing campaigns; 2) next to Israel, Jordan is now the second largest country that receives US foreign assistance (per capita), also higher than Egypt, and higher than Pakistan in absolute terms; 3) the support the Jordanian government is lending the US in its war on Iraq; 4) the continued visits of US high military ranking personnel being welcomed by none other than the king himself; 5) the almost full cooperation between the Jordanian and the American security apparatuses in pursuing, interrogating, and torturing the presumably members of "Islamic terrorist organizations.” As LA Times describe Jordan in a recent articles as a hub for “extraordinary rendition!” All of these factors might help explain, not justify, such attacks, and why recently these groups have been adamantly targeting Jordan.

Jordanian public sentiment:

Curtailing political freedom has enjoyed a long life under the Jordanian regime. This practice has been intensified during the drum up for the last US war on Iraq, and more so afterward. The Parliament was dissolved early on way before the war. The government rebuked a public demand for a new democratic elections law, as well as parliamentary elections, several times before the war. Only after the occupation of Iraq, and when the defeated mood reign supreme did the government agree to parliamentary elections in June 2003. Jordan has a long history of state attacks on independent democratic institutions, mainly labor and professional unions, political parties, student organizations. Electoral laws for the Parliament and the municipal councils are habitually changed to ever more absurd ones (e.g. the government assigns half of the members and the presidents for the municipal councils and for the students organizations in the universities, the rest are elected!) The state denies as a matter of daily practice permit requests for marches, rallies, and public meetings.

All of this fosters sentiments of despair, while deepening the political apathy of a wide margin of the Jordanian public. In this atmosphere of highly contained and suppressed political dialogue and mobilization, the highly publicized horrendous deeds of "Zarqawi's" and his likes -- presumably against the US forces or who cooperate with them -- began to make sense to some Jordanians, as the only possible political action to vent one’s frustration, if not to avenge US terror bestowed on Iraq, and the Iraqi people, with implications to the entire region.

The aftermath

The regime is riding on an ephemeral tide of popularity on the attacks aftermath. However, The reaction on part of the people is already being differentiated n different divides, though the main contentious issue is the regime’s relations with the US administration and the way he abides by the later definition of terrorism.

What the government is vowing to do now is to attack not just these extremist organizations but also whomever talks or expresses any justifications for them. So they are expanding the level of repression to further suppress the freedom of thoughts and expression in Jordan, in a way only the government has monopoly on the definition of what is considered a condoning expression or justification for terrorism.

So, definitely they are going in the wrong direction again. Much so they are not questioning their attitude toward the bigger terrorist and source of destabilization in the region and the world, I mean the US administration. Not to do so and continue with their political repression and manipulations will not do any help but provide for the same ingredients that got us to this point in the first place, if anything Egypt is a good example in that regard.

 
At 9:27 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hello Khader,

Let me take you up on some of the points you make:

1- "But why is Jordan targeted in the first place? 1) The track record of the Jordanian official policy of “cozying with the US,” assisting it in its war and other terrorizing campaigns; 2) next to Israel, Jordan is now the second largest country that receives US foreign assistance (per capita), also higher than Egypt, and higher than Pakistan in absolute terms; 3) the support the Jordanian government is lending the US in its war on Iraq; 4) the continued visits of US high military ranking personnel being welcomed by none other than the king himself; 5) the almost full cooperation between the Jordanian and the American security apparatuses in pursuing, interrogating, and torturing the presumably members of "Islamic terrorist organizations.” As LA Times describe Jordan in a recent articles as a hub for “extraordinary rendition!” All of these factors might help explain, not justify, such attacks, and why recently these groups have been adamantly targeting Jordan".
First of all, the idea that if we somehow changed our policies, Zarqawi would become friendly to Jordan is ridiculous. The idea that we can appease him is foolish. Moreover, if he is successful in Iraq, he would pose an even greater danger on Jordan than he does now. To try and argue otherwise will not convince me. From this perspective, it is in Jordan's national interest that he fails in Iraq. Therefore, despite the fact that I am against US occupation of Iraq, I am equally against Zerqawi succeeding in creating a Taliban government there.
2- "Curtailing political freedom has enjoyed a long life under the Jordanian regime. This practice has been intensified during the drum up for the last US war on Iraq, and more so afterward. …... All of this fosters sentiments of despair, while deepening the political apathy of a wide margin of the Jordanian public. In this atmosphere of highly contained and suppressed political dialogue and mobilization, the highly publicized horrendous deeds of "Zarqawi's" and his likes -- presumably against the US forces or who cooperate with them -- began to make sense to some Jordanians, as the only possible political action to vent one’s frustration, if not to avenge US terror bestowed on Iraq, and the Iraqi people, with implications to the entire region. "
I am sorry to say that while there is truth to this, it is irrelevant in the current context. There is nothing to make be believe that any Islamist organization truly believes in democracy, and would only use democracy to further it's true dream of creating an Islamic theocracy. I wrote about this earlier. Venting frustration through terror is not some accidental side effect, as you suggest. It has been encouraged in an organized manner rallies, public forums, the press and in mosques by various elements of the opposition. To deny responsibility for this atmosphere is quite disingenuous of you.
3- "What the government is vowing to do now is to attack not just these extremist organizations but also whomever talks or expresses any justifications for them. So they are expanding the level of repression to further suppress the freedom of thoughts and expression in Jordan.". The government is right. Justification for suicide bombings on civilians is outside the bounds of acceptable free speech, and is against the national interests of Jordan. You can talk all you want against the US presence in Iraq of Israeli occupation of Palestine, but glorifying suicide bombers sends the wrong message to our youth, many of whom are immature and impressionable.

 
At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Amman Mom said...

Khalaf,
I continue to appreciate your insightful analysis of the bombing tragedy. Your insight and humility are refreshing. I've forwarded the link to your blog to friends in the States who want to understand what is happening in Jordan. Keep up the good work.

 
At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Nas said...

i join u in that salute

 

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