Monday, July 10, 2006

Terrorism Survey

The Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan has published a new survey on the attitudes of Jordanians towards terrorism. Between the continuing Israeli attack on Gaza and news of US troops raping and murdering an Iraqi girl and her family in Iraq, it seems that the timing of the survey was designed to catch Jordanians in a bad mood. And it did.

Abu Aardvark has a review of this survey on his blog. According to him, most noteworthy result in the survey seems to be a trend towards the rehabilitation of Zarqawi’s image. According to the survey, 54% of respondents viewed Zarqawi as a terrorist; as opposed to 72% who viewed his organization as a terrorist organization back in January. While Abu Aardvark suggests that the results are a mixture of fading memories and reaction towards the government’s “aggressive campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood since the arrest of the Islamist MPs over their Zarqawi comments (also suggesting that the numbers might be higher were it not for the “inhibiting effect on what respondents might tell a pollster”). I am confused. Either the response is an attempt to poke the government in the eye or it is a result of government intimidation. Which is it, if either?

The survey gives two hints as to the answer. The first hint comes from a question as to why the respondents who were unhappy to hear about the death of Zarqawi (30.3% of the respondents) felt the way that they did. 38.3% of the 30.3% (11.6% of the respondents) said they felt that way because Zarqawi was a Mujahid and a martyr (the description Mohammad Abu Fares gave for the terrorist). 25.4% of the 30.3% (7.7% of the respondents) were unhappy because Zarqawi was fighting the US. Of the respondents who felt neutral about Zarqawi’s death (14.1%), said that they felt that way because he was fighting the Americans or was killed by them. So, about 68% of the respondents either were happy to hear that he was dead, had mixed feelings because of his role in fighting US presence in Iraq or were saddened by the death because of his role in fighting US occupation. Only 12% had negative reaction to his death because of fundamentalist reasons.

The second clue comes from questions about attitudes concerning specific terror events. For example, 61.8% of the respondents see that the events of 9/11 are considered terrorist, and 63.3% felt that way about the London bombings. Zarqawi’s organizations targeting of civilians in Iraq was felt to be terrorism by 74.7% of the respondents (this is similar to the January number saying that Zarqawi’s organization is terrorist). Attacks in Amman (93.4%) and Sharm il Sheikh (79%) were considered terrorist by the respondents. Almost 91% felt that Israeli actions in the occupied territories were terrorism.

So, the way I read it, there is a slight softening in the attitude towards terrorism. This can mostly be attributed to the behavior of the US in Iraq and Israel in the occupied territories. There is little evidence to support the notion that internal Jordanian politics can be blamed for this shift.

2 Comments:

At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is little evidence to support the notion that internal Jordanian politics can be blamed for this shift."

Are we seeing the alliance (ship) falling and its members are all fighting to get onboard the single rescue boat? It seems it is now going to be a war to save face rather than win over terrorism. It is so in my humble opinion because the government/USA/Israel have mixed legitimate resistance (Hamas, Hizballah, some of the Iraqi groups) with Al-Qaeda terrorism in a bid to subdue the former. The people in Jordan are ambivalent because of that, and they dont seem to be able to pinpoint or articulate what is wrong.

 
At 9:09 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: Actually, they are pretty much articulating what you are saying. That is, resistance is OK, and terrorism is not.

It is not only the government, Israel and the US that try to confuse the difference, as you suggest. Al Qaeda is trying to market itself as a form of resistence, and Mohammad Abu Fares and his friends didn't help by calling Zarqawi a mujahid and a martyr. The MB/IAF still refuse to call Zarqawi a terrorist. So who is confusing the issue?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home