Jordan: An oasis of stability
Despite the terrorist attack that killed five people in Jordan Monday, the fact is that in the face of the many problems and threats embroiling the Hashemite Kingdom, it is nevertheless a relatively stable state in the chaotic Middle East.
The attack took place at the Baqaa camp, 20 km. north of Amman, which was one of several camps erected to shelter Palestinian refugees after the Six Day War in June 1967.
Killed when gunmen opened fire were three Jordanian intelligence officers, one guard and one telephone operator. As of press time, no one had yet claimed responsibility for the incident, which occurred on the first day of Ramadan, but it is most likely that the perpetrators, be they locals or foreigners, acted on behalf of either Islamic State (ISIS) or another jihadist group.
Three months ago, Jordanian security services foiled a
plot by ISIS terrorists in the northern city of Irbid, killing seven would-be perpetrators. Jordan is the most important base for the Western coalition fighting ISIS and supporting rebel groups opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.
CIA advisers, US military trainers and special American forces are operating very closely with the Jordanians. They run training camps in Jordan for the Syrian pro-Western rebel groups and go on secret missions inside Syria, as well. So do the British special forces, as was reported Monday by The London Times.
According to the report, the British forces – most probably the elite SAS unit – use Jordan as a launching pad for special intelligence and assassination missions against top ISIS operatives.
In addition, the Jordanian security services are highly appreciated by Israeli and Western counterparts, and are one of the best at penetrating ISIS and gleaning information from its ranks.
The Jordanian air force is part of the Western coalition and has taken part in numerous air sorties in Syria. One of its pilots who had to eject from his fighter plane after a technical problem two years ago, was captured by ISIS terrorists, tortured and eventually videotaped being burned alive inside of a cage in one of the most horrific images portraying the cruelty the terrorists are capable of.
The kingdom is also home to nearly 400,000 Syrian refugees, which adds an unusual burden to its fragile economy.
In recent years, Jordan witnessed on its border with Syria, as well as within the country itself, several attempted and successful terrorist attacks.
Bordering areas in Syria and Iraq that are controlled by ISIS and al-Qaida, it is a wonder that Jordan has managed to survive. And yet, the regime of King Abdullah, relying on its loyal army and capable intelligence services and supported by the Beduin population, has managed to maintain a sense of calm and stability.
Despite some concern, the prevailing assumption within the Israeli defense establishment, which maintains very close ties with Jordan, is that neither ISIS nor other external jihadist groups, or local terrorist cells for that matter, pose an existential threat to the Hashemite regime.
Both American and Israeli intelligence services believe Jordan will continue to be an important ally against ISIS and other jihadist forces and will remain a pro-Western oasis in the Middle East turmoil. •