Saturday, October 21, 2006

A new approach

The royal pardon and release of the two deputies jailed for glorifying Abu Musab Zarqawi and the recent release of Islamists involved in the Hamas weapons case has been somewhat of a puzzle. Why would Jordan compromise its security to appease violent Islamists?

A series of commentaries in the press today probably explain this. In Al Rai, Sultan Hattab suggests that there is an internal message imbedded in the decisions. He thinks that the message is that the Islamists are not being targeted, and they should know that. The implication is that a “turn the other cheek” policy is at work. Call me cynical, but I don’t think this will work. The Islamists will continue to claim that the government is targeting them, because it is politically expedient and useful, and it diverts away from them dealing with their own ill intentions and misbehavior. Moreover, individuals working to undermine the security of the country will perceive their release as an affirmation of their strength and of the government’s weakness. This is hardly an incentive for them to change their behavior.

Hattab has a more interesting point regarding the desire to open a new page with Hamas, in an effort to try an influence the deteriorating conditions in Palestine. This point makes more sense, although it has not been fleshed out as well as other articles talking about the issue.

Two articles in Al Arab Al Yawm also support this theory. Fahed Khitan points out that the Hamas weapons case is still not closed, and that three suspects are still under arrest. Moreover, Jordan has not abdicated its right to demand information and clarifications regarding this case. On the other hand the release of nine of the suspects might pave the way for smoothing relations between the Jordanian government and Hamas.

Nahid Hattar writes an important piece where he emphasizes the importance of stopping internal fighting between Fateh and Hamas, and the strategic importance of Jordan helping in facilitating reconciliation between the two parties. He goes on to elaborate the required outline of the agreement between the two parties. He says that US and Israeli conditions should be set aside because they are not serious about any peace accord anyway. The agreement should be on power sharing, possibly the formation of a technocratic government. To achieve this, Jordan can help by making up with Hamas, pressuring Fateh to accept Hamas’ rule, trying to end the blockade on the Palestinian people and going as far as threatening abrogating the peace treaty with Israel to pressure them to return to the negotiating table.

It is clear that the king and the Jordanian government view the situation in Palestine as a serious issue that has important ramifications on Jordan. While the security issues raised by the Hamas weapons case are grave, and not minor as suggested by Khitan and Hattar, the situation in Palestine is an even greater danger. We still need to watch our back, though.


At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I felt that Hattar implied the whole ploy thing by saying that it's a "minor" issue, he was trying to suggest and remind his readers of that without going into much details and needless debates.

I for one will wait for more real actions from the Jordanian government to prove the theory of "openning a new page with Hamas" rather than this. As these kinds of 'royal' pardons aren't new, they always suggested (for me) another approach of hunting popularity, and again I naively and palin simply think that the government is done with those criminals/suspects, so why not to pardon them and brag about it?

At 1:18 AM, Anonymous hashmi hashmi said...

if these special pardons are not enough indication that both cases were BOGUS and presented absolutly no threat to the security, well, then i do n't know know what is.

At 5:26 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Omar and HH: A reasonable person might reach these conclusions.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Markus said...

The real reason is that these people were not a threat in the first place, and they were just pawns for political ends. There is no way a government will let go if people it truely believes are working on targeting, espeically a government in the middle east. It just doesnt add up if you think of it that way, this is simply the tip of the ice berg that we see.

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Nas said...

"There is no way a government will let go if people it truely believes are working on targeting"

however it can be argued that these specific people did not pose a threat as it should be noted that only 9 out of 20 were released and the 3 that confessed on tv were not amongst the 9.

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

they "confessed on tv"

and I have a bridge to sell you ;)

extracting confessions via threats of blackmail or torture are common in jordan and other arab states.

we are not in sweden and according to Amnesty suspects were excuted in jordan based on confessions extracted by torture.

it's hard to defend the regime's human rights record in light of the recent revelations by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. I doubt the regime is more credible than the two rights groups.

At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

If the alleged Hamas "terrorists" present a danger to the Jordanian society they should not have been pardoned. Obviously they are not a threat and maybe they are not even from Hamas. The king has again to clean up the miss of the government with the pardon. I believe this Hamas weapons case is bogus but the case is different for Abu Fares and Abu Sokkar since both have committed political and human mistakes and they deserve a punishment.

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Nas, Anon and Batir: I tend to believe the official story despite the obvious delay in legal proceedings. When (or if) these occur, enough information will be available to make a reasonable judgment.

At 12:51 AM, Anonymous Nas said...

"I tend to believe the official story despite the obvious delay in legal proceedings. When (or if) these occur, enough information will be available to make a reasonable judgment."

I have to agree with that but it doesnt matter either way. The government is damned if it does and damned if it doesnt. Whatever move it makes when it comes to just about anything, especially security, it will be considered the wrong move.

Either the government is scaring the people with fabricated threats of terrorism or, when one does happen, the government had some hand in it. So it doesnt matter.

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Markus said...

I wonder how Arab regimes, all of a sudden, are to be believed for what they say....all of a sudden people believe the governments, that have taken away their freedoms, their will, and their resources, not to mention their minds and their thoughts, its truly mind boggling how the younger people are becoming more and more indoctrinated into the programs these regimes have installed ..i have just realized this to my utter shock compared to other parts of the world, where the youngsters are the ones who start revolutions I think the rat lab that is otherwise known as the middle east is showing dictators around the world how to stop people from gaining their will to decide their future, its done by pre-programming the kids in schools and on TV and on radio and now even online......George Orwell would be proud of this, I have never turned Nourmina TV on and seen anything other than pro-security forces video clips playing, thats taking the concept they want ram down ur throats, gift-wrapping it in a pretty wrapper that seems to be "the fad" these days and voila, ur taking post 9-11 America a step further on the propaganda front, amazing, people like rush Limbaugh became popular again after they were left broke for years prior to that fateful event, We do it 10 times better though...sorry i guess I should start my own blog to rant on......

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Excuse me Marcus: Do you presume to tell people what they should think? I bet you would make a great Arab dictator!

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The king has again to clean up the miss of the government with the pardon"

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Azzam said...

I think Batir knows what needs to be done to move ahead in the regime. mark my word. the guy is gunning for minister, but he needs to prove his metel to the powers that be.

At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

Azzam I am not gunning for a minister or anything and I do not even know how to use guns. You do not have the right to judge people this way without knowing what they really do or do not.


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