Blowback: Zarqawi, a Jordanian Export to Iraq, Now Wreaks Havoc in the Land of His Birth

(Wall Street Journal) Fouad Ajami - In truth, the tranquility of Jordan was deceptive, secured by a monarchy that has always been more moderate in its temperament than the population it ruled. "Iraqi Insurgent Blamed for Bombings in Jordan" was a headline on the front page of the New York Times of Nov. 13: Not quite! For Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as his nom de guerre specifies, is a man from the town of Zarqa, a stone's throw from Amman. From its inception as the unlikeliest of nation-states, Jordan has been a realm ruled by a merciful dynasty and a population bristling under the controls, threatening to overrun the political limits and then pulling back from the brink out of a grudging recognition that the soft authoritarianism of the place was safer than the prospects of calamity. A stranger who encounters Jordan is always struck by that juxtaposition of stability and barely hidden rage. It would be a calamity were the rulers to succumb to the temptation to proclaim Jordan's innocence, its shock and surprise that the safe haven has been violated. True, the assailants who struck the Amman hotels were Iraqis from the Sunni triangle. But the spectacle of displaying the would-be suicide bomber - Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, with her belt of explosives - on Jordanian television ought not to become theater and escapism, a message that the terror hails from beyond Jordan's borders. In one Pew survey, conducted in the summer of 2005, 57% of Jordanians expressed their support for suicide bombings and attacks on civilians. A country with this kind of political culture is in need of political repair. Once more, we are face to face here with the phenomenon of Arab denial. How else can we explain the anger of Jordanians that Zarqawi had struck his own birthplace?

2005-11-16 00:00:00

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