Two weeks ago I visited Amman, and just before landing you are anxious of the unknown condition. It was as if we were in the midst of a serious situation since a security guard was on the plane. It’s something you commonly see in the world of aviation.
He was sitting on the seat for flight attendants facing the passengers, constantly watching us throughout the journey.
Prior to my visit, authorities announced the arrest of terrorists who had crossed the Jordan border from Syria. The success was that their targets were identified: Shopping malls and diplomatic headquarters, the most prominent being the US Embassy, which was the main target. The other targets were to be struck in order to divert attention.
This raised the same doubts that some like to repeat, that governments invent conspiracies in order to justify its iron grip.
“It is not in the interest of the Jordanian authorities — politically or economically — to spread rumors about the presence of terrorist groups targeting diplomatic and commercial areas. This story ruins our reputation, so why do it?” I was told.
The disclosure of the plot did not result in any political measures and did not stop the state’s activities. Therefore the state would not tarnish its reputation with the story of a terrorist plot if it were not real.
Because Jordan is in the middle of the high tension in the region, and targeted continuously, security becomes a necessity of survival. Here, security is one of the most vigilant and effective systems in the Arab world, which faces a huge challenge.
Until recently, Jordan was the gate to Syria for vegetables and tourists. Today it is the gateway from Syria for political refugees after the failure of the Turkish gate, and after rebels’ failure to build liberated zones.
For this, the country’s circumstances are not easy. The Jordanian monarch described the situation in a speech in front of a few thousand of his countrymen.
Tens of thousands of people fleeing from the hell of Syria are flooding their borders, gas from Egypt had been interrupted and no one understands why. And the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is trying to gain politically from the revolutionary atmosphere in the region. These pressures may have led Jordan to avoid dealing with the Syrian revolution for a whole year, but geography is stronger than political decisions.
The Syrian regime has abused its relationship with Jordan when it pushed tens of thousands of its citizens to flee to Jordan, continuously targeting villages and cities for more than a year. Assad’s regime believes in a policy of exporting crisis, and intimidation of its neighbors such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
I met with Jordan’s King Abdallah, who has a clear vision in this overcast area. I listened to him talk about his country’s policies, not only regarding what is currently happening, but also for the immediate future. Jordan is a stable and successful model, which some powers in the region are trying to destabilize. Jordan always liked political and Islamic moderation, and it is certain that the Arab revolutions, which may later include Syria, will impose the ideology of an Islamic political system.
However, we all welcome moderate Islam that refuses to harness religion for political purposes and to take over the government, and we have long and terrible experiences of political Islam, such as in Iran.
As for the Hashemite Kingdom, some thought it would be one of the first countries that would be totally immersed in the flood of change. A country with a simple economy would not hold up, but nothing of this has happened. Some had read into Jordan’s cautious stance after the beginning of the Syrian revolution, as a manifestation of fear that the dam would collapse — meaning the Assad regime, and be dragged into the flood also.
Recent developments, including the latest announcement of the summit in Amman, which aims to build a broader Syrian opposition front, proves that Jordan is not just a refugee camp for Syrians, but the capital of the Syrian revolution which may very well succeed in what others failed, and that Jordan would succeed in foiling the Assad regime that depends on Iraq, Iran and Hezbollah.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in Arab News on Nov. 5, 2012