In my last blog, I suggested that there were a number of reasons for President Obama’s visit to Jordan. While little has been in the news about this country, things are not good for the monarchy. As noted earlier, I first visited Jordan in the late ‘60s when the country was poorly developed. Even good hotels were lacking. Over the decades, I have watched the country develop and new stability return. With the death of King Hussein and the exit of Queen Nor to America, the power shifted to his son King Abdullah. The country seemed on an even keel and life appeared stable. However, income remained low and many people struggled.
With two sons who taught at the University of Amman and my own visits there, I saw students eager to gain a good education and develop a successful life style. Tourists came and went as well as many going to Petra to see the caves and ancient treasury where caravans once stopped. This tranquility was shaken as the “Arab Spring” brought turmoil to the entire region. Like a giant earthquake, the uprisings brought nations like Egypt and Syria to their knees. People would no longer accept the conditions of poverty or near poverty they lived in.
Such economic earthquakes reach into every level of life and are always an invitation to extremists to rush into the streets with radical promises of improvement through upheaval. Egypt continues to struggle with this problem. Certainly the Al-Qaeda extremists found multiple opportunities to attempt to depose various governments. These tremors were certainly felt in Jordan.
While little has been published about Jordanian politics, much has transpired. King Abdullah recently met with President Vladimir Putin. The London-based Al-Quid Al-Arabi newspaper suggested this could signal a major shift in how Jordan relates to Syria. The same article reported that Putin discussed establishing Russian weapon factories in Jordan. These reports indicate the Jordanians are attempting to get the media to suggest that the upraising in Syria is led by Islamist fundamentalists whose objective is next to topple Jordan in order to attack Israel. Of course, there are radical Islamist terrorist fighting in Syria, but Syrian Christians are highly involved as well as well as combatants opposing oppression. It is known that Jordan’s intelligence agency has been cooperating with Syrian intelligence. Moreover, Jordan has supplied the Assad regime with diesel fuel and drinking water. Of course, many refugees have fled into Jordan, but Abdullah has returned rebel opposition to the Syria government. In addition, allegations suggest the King Abdullah has been trying to influence Western media’s reporting by offering journalists gifts.
Not a good situation!
The point is that attempts to distort reporting is an old trick of tyrannical regimes. If this strategy is proven true, it will highly discredit the entire Hashemite government. History suggests that Jordan has always been late in making up their mind about what to do and then ending up on the wrong side. They lost the West Bank area because at the last minute they jumped into the Yom Kippur War after saying they were staying out.
We can conclude that President Obama’s visit was highly important for reasons we have not yet discovered. Let’s hope King Abdullah doesn’t try to buy time by making foolish gambles.