Finally, almost seven months after the terror attack on hotels in Amman, the mastermind of this atrocity is dead. While it would have been more satisfying for his death to have happened sooner, it is of some consolation that Jordanian security and intelligence helped bring his life to an end. It will probably take many years for him to fall to the very bottom level of hell where he belongs. May he scream at the top of his voice until he reaches his final destination.
I had a hunch that something was about to happen when Jordan announced the capture of Ziad Karbouli a few weeks ago. The announcement and television confession seemed to indicate that a message was being sent to Zarqawi. The message was "your organization is infiltrated and we don't mind you knowing, since there is little you can do about it".
So, why is Jordan advertising its activities in Iraq? I suspect that there are a number of audiences that are being addressed. The Jordanian audience is being addressed to convey a message of assurance that the government is proactive in dealing with terror beyond our borders. The terrorists are being sent a message that it is better to leave Jordan alone. The most important audience, I believe, are the Iraqis. Many Iraqis are distrustful of Jordan, and feel that Jordanians are sympathetic with Zarqawi and other terror groups working in Iraq (remember the Hilleh incident?). Jordan's long term interests lie with good relationships with all groups in Iraq. While this event might help improve relations with the Shiites, it is not obvious how are relationship with the Sunnis are going. Most of the resistance in Iraq is driven by the Sunnis. However, the resistance consists of a variety of groups ranging from the Islamists to the Baathists. Early on, there seemed to be tacit agreement between these groups and Zarqawi jihadists to work together. More recently, relationships have soured, and many have suggested that the displacement of Zarqawi from Al Anbar to Diyala (where he was killed) we as a result of fighting between local tribal leaderships and Zarqawi. Local informants in Diyala seem to have made the decisive difference in the operation.
After the Iranian foreign minister's visit to Amman (a few of days before Karbouli's capture), the joint conference the Iranian FM acknowledged Jordan's role in maintaining Iraq's national unity. The Iraqis alone will not be able to cool down the mistrust and violence, especially since Iran is part of the picture. The Shiites are backed by the Iranians, and the Sunnis need a regional player to stand up for their interests. In this regard, Jordan seems to be the only game in town. Jordan's role would be more effective if the Shiites felt more comfortable with Jordan.
I pray that after the elimination of Zarqawi, more will be done to move Iraq towards peace, unity, freedom and prosperity. I would be proud if Jordan can play a positive role in this regard.