This week’s stabbing attack at the Lion’s Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, in which two Israeli border police officers were injured and their assailant was killed, is an ominous signal of growing strains around the city’s Holy Esplanade (Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif). Tensions and clashes in and around the Esplanade are common during Muslim and Jewish holidays, at times leading to violence far from the site itself. It is worrying that two months before Passover and the holy month of Ramadan, there are already signs of escalation at the site, after a considerable period of relative calm.
The weeklong Jewish Passover holiday, during which many Temple activists will seek to enter the Esplanade, begins on 10 April; Ramadan commences slightly more than a month afterward, on 26 May.… Seguir leyendo »
In January 2015, King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan marched in Paris with other world leaders to pay tribute to the murdered cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo and to stand up for freedom of expression. Less than two years later, when Nahed Hattar, a 56-year-old Jordanian writer from a Christian family, shared a cartoon on his Facebook page that some perceived to be mocking God, the Jordanian government swiftly ordered his arrest and charged him with “insulting religious belief and sentiment.”
Mr. Hattar deleted the cartoon and clarified that he meant to mock only how the Islamic State’s followers viewed God.… Seguir leyendo »
For millions of Syrian civilians trapped for five years by a relentless war, mere lifesaving aid, let alone refuge, is out of reach. But for the 75,000 displaced people caught on Jordan’s desert frontier with Syria, salvation is only yards away. Unlike many of their fellow citizens, they can be saved. So why have they been effectively abandoned?
They are assembled in a kind of buffer zone on an inhospitable strip of land, much of it within Jordanian territory, just north of the official Jordanian border. But that border is closed, which prevents aid from reaching these desperate refugees and at the same time prevents them from seeking safety.… Seguir leyendo »
It's been a long, painful year for Syria's 6 million refugees, as well as for Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, which are buckling under the pressure of hosting three quarters of them. But June 21, the longest day of the year, turned out to be particularly drawn out for a group of refugees who have been stuck in the desert at the Jordanian border.
Early that morning, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) slammed a pickup truck packed with explosives into a Jordanian military base on the Syrian border, killing at least six members of the country's security services. Within hours, the army declared the area a "closed military zone" in which "any vehicle and personnel ...… Seguir leyendo »
Today we traveled along the Syrian border to a security checkpoint with King Abdullah II and some of his military advisers. Jordan has many borders, all potentially porous: 365 kilometers (about 227 miles) facing Syria, 180 kilometers (about 110 miles) facing Iraq, and the rest facing Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Their vulnerabilities are clear and visible from the air. But the Jordanian military is vigilant, using very sophisticated surveillance equipment and poring over digital video feeds in real time to spot problems.
There are constantly, even now, people who make a break from Syria to the safety of Jordan only to find they are being shot at by their own troops.… Seguir leyendo »
Poor Jordan. A small, economically precarious country, it shares a two-hundred-mile border with Syria. Yet unlike Syria’s other neighbors, Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon, it rarely gets any attention in the international press. Indeed, while the world focuses on the European Union’s controversial deal with Turkey—in which Ankara has agreed to limit the number of asylum-seekers hoping to reach Greece’s shores in exchange for a lavish foreign aid package from Europe—hardly anything has been said about this crucial American ally on Syria’s southern border. But as I observed on a recent visit, Jordan is struggling to cope with vast numbers of refugees and an alarming rise in extremism.… Seguir leyendo »
La Syrie, en proie à un conflit d’une violence et d’une intensité exceptionnelle, a donné naissance à l’un des mouvements de réfugiés les plus massifs au Moyen-Orient depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Le Haut Commissariat des Nations unies aux réfugiés (HCR) estime que plus de 4 millions de Syriens ont quitté leur pays depuis le début de la crise. Ironie de l’histoire, la Syrie avait été le principal pays d’accueil pour plusieurs centaines de milliers de réfugiés irakiens fuyant le chaos et la violence après la chute du régime de Saddam Hussein en 2003, sans compter la présence sur son sol de près de 500 000 réfugiés palestiniens.… Seguir leyendo »
Hace unos días tuve la oportunidad de visitar Zaatari, un campo de refugiados levantado a 90 kilómetros de Amán en el que viven 79.000 personas procedentes de Siria. Jordania ha sido generosa con aquellas personas y familias que han alcanzado el país tras huir de la guerra. La mayoría de los países de la UE también están dando muestras de generosidad, entre ellos España. Pero la generosidad no basta. La imprescindible acogida de quienes huyen no puede ser solución para los millones de personas desplazadas. La raíz del problema está allí, en Siria, y no queda más remedio que influir y presionar para alcanzar unos acuerdos mínimos con el país origen de esta crisis migratoria.… Seguir leyendo »
On the face of it, Jordan must seem to the rest of the world like a welcome refuge from the violence engulfing many of the countries around it.
But if you scratch at the surface a little, you will find a country that is facing major, even unprecedented challenges from all sides.
Jordan's resilience speaks volumes about its leadership and its people -- but in reality, regional instability and continued domestic pressures mean the country has serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
ISIS: The calm before the storm?
The conflict and deep changes across the region -- particularly in Syria and Iraq, historically Jordan's two main regional trading partners -- have made the Middle East's future seem bleaker than ever.… Seguir leyendo »
A dramatic split in the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan could be one of the most important developments in the recent evolution of Islamist movements. And a crucial experiment in developing a new modus vivendi between Arab states and moderate Islamist groups may well be unfolding in the process.
In the early and optimistic days of the Arab Spring, mainstream Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood garnered all the attention. Many assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that Brotherhood parties would be swept into power in country after country once Arabs were able to vote freely.
With their well-established brands, strong grass-roots organizations and lack of taint of association with former dictatorships, Brotherhood parties did indeed quickly come to power in Egypt and Tunisia.… Seguir leyendo »
This past weekend marked the third anniversary of the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad — and the outlook is increasingly grim.
Peace talks last month in Geneva have left future negotiations uncertain. Syria has failed to meet benchmarks for eliminating chemical weapons and will likely miss a June 30 deadline to destroy its entire arsenal. Violence is intensifying between the regime and the rebels.
Through all this, Washington has been intensely focused on Syria’s internal fault lines. But with hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, the crisis has swelled far beyond Syria’s borders. It is imperative, then, to start tackling the Syrian spillover now before the situation becomes even worse — and Jordan is the best place to start.… Seguir leyendo »
La atención de los preocupados por las consecuencias de la crisis siria sobre los países vecinos se ha centrado recientemente en la ciudad de Trípoli, en el norte de Líbano, donde resultaron 14 personas muertas y unas 90 heridas en nuevos enfrentamientos entre milicias rebeldes rivales en barrios musulmanes de predominio suní y alauí respectivamente. El estallido de violencia obedeció en parte al vacío político y de seguridad resultante de la continuada incapacidad de las alianzas 8 de Marzo y 14 de Marzo para consensuar una fórmula destinada a crear un gobierno de unidad nacional, intento que lleva siete meses de retraso.… Seguir leyendo »
It is almost a cliche by now: the inferno in Syria will eventually spread to its neighbours. It's already happening for some of them. The car bomb that killed Wissam Hassan, the Lebanese intelligence chief, and the sharpening of tensions it produced, was the most recent, dramatic illustration of it. Turkey's far-reaching support for the Syrian opposition has bred retaliation from President Assad in the form of renewed support for the PKK, the separatist Kurdish militants, who are on the warpath again. As for Iraq, it becomes ever clearer that the "Syrian crisis" – a full-scale civil war – and its own "crisis" – involving endemic tensions among Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites that fall short of that but constantly seem to threaten it – are intimately bound up with each other..… Seguir leyendo »
At an international press-freedom event in Jordan 12 years ago, I was impressed with government officials’ words about the new king’s desire to promote the Internet as a means of free communication. I decided to set up an Internet radio station.
AmmanNet.net started as an electronic media experiment. It was created with support from the Open Society Institute and was sponsored in its first year by UNESCO and the city of Amman. Initially our online broadcasts were barely followed in Jordan. By collaborating with a Palestinian FM radio station, we were able to bypass government restrictions on radio broadcasts; the Palestinian station rebroadcast our signal into Jordanian air space, using our Internet Webcast.… Seguir leyendo »
Among all the strange and curious sights in the Middle East is the appearance of a new political clique here that is attracting record membership. Its members are often seen at the heart of Amman’s glittering social whirl, and although they are invariably household names, their past looks decidedly more thrilling than their future.
In political terms they are, quite literally, the quick and the dead. They are the rapidly expanding club of former ministers of King Abdullah II — several hundred, by some estimates — who came to the well, drank as best they could and were then sent home to think about what they’d done wrong.… Seguir leyendo »
Le mouvement tunisien a reçu un vaste soutien en Jordanie et y a renforcé l'opposition, alors que depuis quelques semaines, les manifestations se multiplient. Les cortèges réclament des mesures économiques contre les hausses de prix, le départ du gouvernement, et que désormais le premier ministre soit élu plutôt que nommé par le roi.
Initiés par la gauche, rejoints – fait plus rare en Jordanie – par des jeunes et des Palestiniens des camps, ils ont ensuite été ralliés par le mouvement islamiste et les syndicats professionnels qui disposent d'une capacité de mobilisation bien plus importante. Ces manifestations s'ajoutent à des sit-in répétés depuis un an d'ouvriers ou d'enseignant qui demandent des hausses de salaire ou l'autorisation de créer un syndicat.… Seguir leyendo »
Quietly and with barely any public confrontation, Israel is creating a new enemy for itself: the Kingdom of Jordan. In the situation that we justifiably or unjustifiably find ourselves now — boycotted and isolated — we do not need to lose the only Arab state with which we have peace-like relations.
This is the story: Jordan is a poor country, lacking almost any natural resources, that spends billions of dollars each year to import 95 percent of its electricity. But in 2007, at least 65,000 tons of uranium ore was found in the Jordanian desert — the 11th-largest deposit of uranium in the world.… Seguir leyendo »
The lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel here looks as it always has. The reception desk is to the right, the jewelry shop is off to the left, and straight ahead is the lounge area -- no hint that back in 2005, suicide bombers walked into this and two other hotels here and killed 59 people. Since then, nothing much has happened. Call it the quiet after the storm -- or, more likely, the quiet before the storm resumes.
Jordan, this oil-less concoction of a Middle East state, is as good a place as any to grasp the extent of the American debacle in Iraq.… Seguir leyendo »
Por Walid Phares, licenciado en Derecho y Ciencias Políticas en la Universidad Jesuita y la Universidad Libanesa de Beirut, y doctor en Relaciones Internacionales y Estudios Estratégicos por la Universidad de Miami (GEES, 23/11/05):
Después de cada ataque del terror jihadista o estallido violento en cualquier parte del mundo, los principales medios siempre aventuran sus innumerables teorías acerca de las presuntas “causas raíz” del ataque particular en cuestión. Desafortunadamente, la mayor parte de las veces sus análisis son ficticios. Ese fue el caso la semana pasada con la interpretación de la intifada francesa. Y este es el caso una vez más, apenas horas después de que los terroristas hayan atacado tres hoteles en el centro de Ammán, Jordania.… Seguir leyendo »
By David Ignatius (THE WASHINGTON POST, 16/11/05):
The headquarters of Jordan's intelligence service sits astride a cliff in this city's western suburbs, on a road marked with a small sign that says "Jordan Nursing Council." Once you pass a series of gates and checkpoints and reach the inner courtyard, you see a stark black flag bearing the Arabic script: "Justice Has Come."
The fearsome Jordanian Mukhabarat has intimidated this country's foreign and domestic enemies for decades, and proved its worth again over the past week. By meticulous tradecraft, it managed to find a female Iraqi suicide bomber whose explosive belt had failed to detonate in last week's attacks by al Qaeda terrorists on three hotels here.… Seguir leyendo »