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Sweeping 'Patriot' Laws Passed As Jordan Fears Uprising and ISIS

by Oui Wed Jun 25th, 2014 at 06:22:02 AM EST

The most important succes of any terror threat is imposing fear. Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have certainly left its legacy on the United States and the Western world measured by the political prowess of Fear Inc. USA, a broad group of Islamophobes. Although King Abdullah was a fervent supporter of the West to overthrow Assad in Syria, it's feeling the heat of an impending backlash as fighters return, bringing along some foreign mates.

Jordan's Islamists and the Rise of ISIS in the Hashemite Kingdom

Situated between viral conflicts in Syria and Iraq, Jordan's relative anonymity may be drawing to a close. A beacon of stability in the Middle East, the Hashemite Kingdom is perpetually challenged by the need to moderate between the monarchy's pro-Western orientation and the Islamist tendencies of the country's population. For decades the Muslim Brotherhood has remained the most prominent political rival of the Hashemite regime and its impact was significantly amplified in 2011-2013 by the organization's region-wide ascent following the uprisings of the Arab Spring. However, the deposition of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and suppression of the Brotherhood's pan-Islamic aspirations significantly diminished the organization's domestic influence. Now, al Qaeda-linked factions fighting in the Syrian civil war supply the most attractive brand of Islamist ideology for direct import into Jordan. As a result, the Kingdom faces immediate challenges from the country's nascent Salafist Jihadist Movement, and a long-term threat for the evolution of domestic Islamist militancy.

Reemerging in 2009, the Salafist Jihadist Movement in Jordan maintains a constituency of nearly 5,000 adherents, residing predominantly in the town of Zarqa, hometown of al Qaeda's former second-in-command and chief of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi. Claiming responsibility for three coordinated suicide bombing attacks targeting Amman hotels in 2005, Zarqawi was later killed in a joint U.S-Jordanian counter-militancy operation in Iraq. While recently non-violent, the war in neighboring Syria has provided Jordan's Salafi population with a training ground for militarization, with reports indicating that up to 2,000 Jordanian citizens are presently fighting in the ranks of hard-line Islamist factions, including the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and Islamist State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). As a result, the Kingdom has implemented a series of U.S.-backed security protocols to limit the cross-border movement of militants between the two countries, highlighted by an April 16 Jordanian Air Force strike likely targeting an ISIS convoy attempting to infiltrate from Syria.

"Victory of the Islamic State," Battle Cry in Ma'an Jordan (Fallujah) during recent demonstration

However, recent events in the southern town of Ma'an suggest that the region's most notorious and emergent jihadist faction, ISIS, has found a base of support in the restive southern city, situated 40 km (25 miles) from the heavily visited destination of Petra. On April 23, clashes between local residents and central government security forces broke out in Ma'an.

True Jihadist Threat in Jordan

Continued below the fold ...

True Jihadist Threat in Jordan

(Jordan Times) May 17, 2014 - Jordan's Lower House of Parliament recently passed a sweeping, if controversial, anti-terror bill granting the state broad powers to detain and try citizens suspected of affiliation with terrorist group abroad in a bid to counter the growing threat posed by jihadist fighters returning from Syria.

Yet despite the over 40 articles and dozens of pages granting the government new legal tools in its renewed war on extremism, the pending law is not likely to protect the country from the true threat posed by jihadists north of the border.

A key article in the amended law broadens the definition of "terrorist acts" to include "joining or attempting to join", the "direct and indirect funding" of and "attempting to recruit" for "any armed group or terrorist organisation in the Kingdom and abroad".

After a fierce debate on the Parliament floor, lawmakers even approved Article 3 of the anti-terrorism law, which criminalises "the intent to commit acts damaging to the Kingdom's relations with foreign countries" -- a stipulation that in practice allows the government to detain and imprison citizens for their support for organisations or groups legal in Jordan, such as Muslim Brotherhood, but that were outlawed by neighbouring countries.

Officials highlighted the importance of the law as a vital tool in Jordan's renewed war on Islamist militants in Syria, a battle that until now has been dependent on the vagueness of Article 148 of the Penal Code, which allows the courts to try and convict citizens for "acts unauthorised by the government".

Despite pushing case after case through the State Security Court, convicting suspected jihadist sympathisers and fighters for "unauthorised acts" and for "travelling to Syria with the intent to join armed groups", officials argued that Jordan was in need of a wider, legally sound, net to arrest all those who may support or be members of Syrian militias that may one day set their sights on Jordan.

The minister of interior urged the rapid ratification of the controversial bill in order to aid the work of military and intelligence agencies along the 370-kilometre Jordanian-Syrian border, which, he said, have been performing "the job of two countries as one".

Yet, although alarming, neither the 2,000-plus Jordanians fighting alongside Islamist militias nor the 20-odd jihadists returning from Syria week after week represent the most pressing threat to Jordan's stability.

Of the 90 cases brought by authorities before the State Security Court since late 2013, only a handful actually involved attempts to conduct military acts on Jordanian soil. Of those handful, only one -- the so-called 9/11 terror plot -- included allegations of attacks on targets within Jordan.

Even leading hardline clerics and Al Qaeda theologians restricted jihadists' targets in Syria to "the forces of the Syrian regime and its supporters" while Al Qaeda-linked Jordanian salafist movement has barred any military actions in Jordan.

Syrian jihadists' first direct threat to Jordan -- a Youtube video posted recently, purportedly showing an unnamed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighter burning his Jordanian passport and vowing to attack "the Jordanian intelligence department and its supporters" came as a side remark in a rambling speech that has yet to be endorsed by jihadist leaders.

Extremist group 'does not control Iraq border post'

My diary - US Promotion of Middle-East Peace In Turmoil.

The Redirection, Is the Strategic Shift in US Policy Benefitting Our Enemies by Seymour Hersh

(The New Yorker) March 5, 2007 - To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations [Hariri assassination? - Oui] that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration's perspective, the most profound--and unintended--strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran.

Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States Are Behind Syria's Violence [also Turkey and GCC states - Oui]

The hawks in Israel and across the Atlantic had other ideas about an imminent peace treaty with Assad's Syria ...

Next Israel-Hezbollah war will be worse, says U.S. analyst

(Haaretz) Sept. 21, 2010 - Research published by Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) says future Israel-Hezbollah war would likely draw in Iran and cover much of Lebanon, Israel and probably Syria.

In its next war against Hezbollah, the IDF's Northern Command would use the "Lebanon Corps" and five divisions - the 162nd, 36th, 98th, 366th and 319th, according to U.S. intelligence veteran Jeffrey White in research published last week by the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

According to White, if another Israel-Hezbollah war breaks out it will not resemble the war of the summer of 2006, but will cover much of Lebanon and Israel, and probably also Syria, and is likely to also draw in Iran, involve major military operations, cause significant casualties among combatants and civilians, and destroy infrastructure.

White says that the main aim of Israel in a war would be to impose a fundamental change in the military equilibrium and defeat Hezbollah, although not a "final victory." At the center of the Israeli military strategy will be combined arms operations, land-air-sea, with the aim of quickly destroying Hezbollah's rocket and missile arsenals and the group's land forces in southern Lebanon, and seriously disrupting its command and control centers by hitting its infrastructure throughout Lebanon.

Israel will seek to prevent the war from expanding to involve Syria, with threats, mobilizing reserves, moving forces and "flexing muscles," but will not hesitate to attack Syrian forces, infrastructure and Iranian elements that will come to Hezbollah's assistance.

White says that Israel will seek to deter Iran from directly attacking its territory through warnings and preparing strategic attack elements - airborne, missiles and naval units.  

Ma'an in southern Jordan, a hotbed of violent disorder

AMMAN, Jordan (Asharq Al-Awsat)--Over the past few decades, the town of Ma'an in southern Jordan has gained a reputation in the rest of the country as a hotbed of violent disorder.

A city steeped in history, it was the launchpad for the Arab Revolt at the beginning of the 20th century and has witnessed a number of dramatic events over the past few years, the result of various political, economic and social problems that have frequently pushed the town, almost 150 miles (around 220 kilometers) south of the capital Amman to boiling point.

Perhaps the most prominent factor in all of the unrest within the city is its economic problems, especially over the past two years. Ma'an has the highest rate of unemployment in Jordan, 20.6 percent compared to the current 11.8 nationwide average.

Along with the poverty, unemployment and lack of services, the city is also the scene of conflicts between the various tribes who live there, in addition to a growing hardline Salafist presence among its population, and--due to Jordan's status as a "refugee hub"--it has over the years buckled under the extra strain caused by events such as the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, the Palestinian Intifada and most recently, the Syrian crisis.

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Ottoman Turks and acquisitions from 1300 to 20th century Empire

Sharif Hussein bin Ali, Emir of Mecca and King of the Arabs (and great grandfather of King Hussein), launched the Great Arab Revolt. He was the last of the Hashemite Sharifians that ruled over Mecca, Medina and the Hijaz in unbroken succession from 1201 to 1925.

The four centuries of Ottoman rule (1516-1918 CE) were a period of general stagnation in Jordan. The Ottomans were primarily interested in Jordan in terms of its importance to the pilgrimage route to Mecca al-Mukarrama. They built a series of square fortresses--at Qasr al-Dab'a, Qasr Qatraneh, and Qal'at Hasa--to protect pilgrims from the desert tribes and to provide them with sources of food and water.

Fire and water: the archaeology of steam power in a desert war

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Jun 25th, 2014 at 06:23:52 AM EST

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