Created on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 12:30
Jordan said Tuesday that 17 international firms have launched tenders for the construction of a canal linking the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea.
The ambitious project has been in the works for more than a decade and aims to provide much-needed water to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
It moved closer to reality in December 2013 when Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed a water-sharing deal.
Jordan's water and irrigation ministry did not name the firms who tendered, but said that each would be examined by a technical committee.
The first phase of the project - with an estimated cost of $900 million - involves building a conveyance system to transfer 300 million cubic meters (10.6 billion cubic feet) of water each year from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.
The ministry said it would also see the construction of a desalination plant with a capacity of 65-85 million cubic meters a year.
Experts have warned that the Dead Sea, the lowest and saltiest body of water in the world, is on course to dry out by 2050.
Its degradation started in the 1960s when Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River, the main source for the Dead Sea.
Water is a rare resource in Jordan, where 92 percent of the land is desert. The country is home to around seven million people and the population is growing with an influx of refugees from Syria.
Several environmental groups have warned that the project could undermine the fragile ecosystem of the Dead Sea, which they fear could be contaminated by water from the Red Sea.
Created on Friday, 13 November 2015 07:46
A Jordanian sheikh who issued a fatwa (Islamic ruling) against killing Jews has apparently had a change of heart.
In a video
released earlier this week by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Sheikh Ali Halabi, head of the Imam al-Albani religious studies center, ruled that killing Jews outside the context of war and clashes was forbidden.
But in a new clip released by MEMRI on Wednesday, Halabi clarified his remarks, saying that jihad against "the brothers of apes and pigs" - that is the Jews - is a duty, but the Muslims are not up for the task right now, and must prepare first.
“The Jews are occupiers and plunderers. They are people [prone to] betrayal, fraud, cunning, and deceit. They are the slayers of the prophets and the messengers,” Halabi says in the new video.
At the same time, he warns, "Jihad against the Jews, fighting them, and liberating the land from them is a binding and mandatory duty, incumbent upon the Islamic countries and upon the Muslim individuals, but it depends on capabilities, because everybody knows that America has Israel's back. Are today's fragmented Muslims up for the task? Let's be honest. Let's not fool ourselves."
If the comparison between Jews and “apes and pigs” sounds familiar, it is because it is commonly used by Muslims.
Created on Monday, 02 November 2015 10:12
A well known Salafi sheikh in Jordan has caused wide outrage in the Muslim world, after issuing a fatwa (Islamic ruling) in a video making the rounds online in which he forbids murdering Jews outside the context of war and clashes.
Sheikh Ali Halabi, head of the Imam al-Albani religious studies center, is seen in the video being asked by a student as to whether it is allowed to murder Jews in "Palestine."
"Someone who protects you, gives you electricity and water, transfers you money and you work for him and take his money - would you betray him, even if he was a Jew?," he responds in the video.
In clashes and war killing Jews is fine according the sheikh, "but if you trust him and he trusts you, then it is forbidden to betray him. And therefore you are forbidden to murder him."
Another student then asked the sheikh if armed IDF soldiers in the streets could be murdered, at which he said: "the same answer. Does a soldier holding a weapon in the street kill every Muslim he sees?" The student responded: "no."
When asked if IDF soldiers "only attack if they are first attacked?," the sheikh replied, "I don't live in Palestine, but that is what the brothers there tell us. That he who does not attack Jews is not attacked in return."
The sheikh made clear that his statements do not mean that he is not a hostile enemy of the "despised Jews."
He didn't want it to seem as if he was "defending the despised Jews. But this is the reality. Because if they would kill everyone they met, nobody would remain and the Palestinians would continue to escape to other countries in the world."
The video was widely shared on social media, where a backlash was seen as activists condemned the sheikh and his fatwa.
Earlier this year, another Jordanian sheikh declared his support for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount - and was arrested
for airing such views by authorities.
Unfortunately, the opinions of the sheikhs appears to be an extreme minority view in Jordan which, despite a peace treaty with Israel, has frequently openly called for Israel's destruction
in mass rallies and statements by political leaders.
Created on Sunday, 02 August 2015 08:29
The Jordanian government has issued a response to violence on the Temple Mount Sunday
- condemning not the Muslim rioters themselves but the Jewish visitors they were attempting to attack.
In a statement issued Sunday afternoon Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed el-Mumini condemned what he described as the "storming" of Al Aqsa Mosque by "Jewish settlers," headed by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), and describing the Jewish presence as "harming the sanctity of Al Aqsa."
El-Mumini called on the State of Israel to "take responsibility" and prevent any such instances occurring in future.
Ariel was indeed among several Israeli lawmakers and dozens of Jewish visitors allowed onto the Temple Mount - Judaism's holiest site - on Sunday, in honor of the Fast of Av, during which Jews mourn the destruction of the two Holy Temples which once stood on the Mount.
But none of the groups went inside the mosque at all. Palestinian and other Arab media outlets regularly refer to peaceful Jewish visits to the Mount - which are heavily regulated due to Muslim pressure - as "settlers storming" the Al Aqsa Mosque.
There were, however, violent confrontations between Muslim rioters and Israeli police, which began when police received credible intelligence that Islamist groups had been preparing weapons, rocks and other missiles for use in attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces.
A number of Muslim youths had barricaded themselves inside the Al Asqa Mosque, after having collected rocks, wooden boards and planks, and fireworks to make firebombs in preparations for attacks against Israel Police, as well as to disrupt those visiting the Temple Mount for Tisha B'Av.
They used shoe racks, steel bars, and ropes to block doors to the Al Aqsa Mosque from being closed - also in preparation for a violent confrontation with police officers.
As Police and Border Patrol forces, under the command of Jerusalem District Commander Moshe Edri, entered the Temple Mount compound, masked rioters fled into mosque, from where they threw dozens of rocks and cements blocks at the police.
They also shot fireworks and sprayed the security forces with an unidentified fluid, lightly injuring four of the policeman.
Despite the escalating violence, police managed to prevent further injuries by closing the doors of the mosque, with the rioters trapped inside, and restoring quiet to the Temple Mount, allowing visitors to enter.
Created on Wednesday, 29 July 2015 19:50
The lawyer, Abed al-Kader Ahmad al-Khateeb, told the news agency that he was barred from seeing his client and that family members were also prevented from visiting the detainee.
Computers and cellphones were taken from the man's home, but he has not been charged with anything, the attorney said.
Al-Khateeb identified his client as Asaad Ibrahim Asaad Haj Ali, a maternal uncle of the Chattanooga attacker, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez.
A Jordanian official said Tuesday that he is sure the uncle and "other relevant people" in Jordan were being questioned, but he would not elaborate and or confirm that the uncle was detained. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case with the media.
The report of the uncle’s arrest comes a few days after the FBI said on Friday it would investigate
Abdulazeez’s visit to Jordan in 2014, and whether he left Jordan to visit other countries before coming home.
Investigators had earlier indicated they don't have "anything that directly ties" Abdulazeez to any foreign terrorist organizations, but experts have said his behavior fits the mold of attacks Islamic State
(ISIS) has called for.
Abdulazeez spent several months in Jordan last year under a mutual agreement with his parents to help him get away from drugs, alcohol and a group of friends they considered to be a bad influence, a person close to his family told AP.
An FBI spokesman has declined to comment on that information.
Abdulazeez reportedly stayed with the uncle in Jordan, but only to help him with his small cellphone business, the attorney said. Neither Abdulazeez nor his uncle was religious or belonged to any sort of political organization, al-Khateeb said.
"The uncle is a regular person, he has a company, he is a businessman, he has no relation with any militant group or organization," al-Khateeb told AP. "He cares about his work and his family, and Muhammad is just his relative, the son of his sister. That's it."
On Monday, two American officials said that Abdulazeez was in Qatar
at least once during his 2014 trip to the Middle East, but the reasons for the stopover were still unknown.
More details emerged on Monday about Abdulazeez's possible frame of mind leading up to the attacks. He had drug abuse problems and was worried about debt, according to his family and a diary he left behind, ABC News reported, citing a family representative.
A close friend of Abdulazeez said on the weekend that Abdulazeez texted him a link
to an Islamic verse hours before the attack, including the line: "Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him."
The shooter was also allegedly upset about the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and the civil war in Syria.
Created on Wednesday, 08 July 2015 22:26
Jordanian security forces arrested a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards planning attacks in Jordan, foiling what they said was the most serious terror plot in the country in the past decade, state media revealed Monday.
According to the Al Rai newspaper, the suspect - who belonged to the Guards' elite Qods Force and is a dual Iraqi-Norwegian national - was arrested two weeks ago in the city of Jerash, north of the capital Amman, in possession of 45 kilograms of high explosives.
He had been smuggled in to Jordan via the Syrian border, security sources said.
The report was published just a few hours before the suspect is due to appear before a military court in Amman.
A security source told Al Rai that had the attack been carried out it would have been the most serious terrorist attack in Jordan in 10 years, both in terms of the amount and quality of the explosives.
The precise target of the planned attack was not revealed in the report, but the Hashemite Kingdom would in theory present a range of targets for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Jordan has good relations with both Israel and the Sunni Arab gulf states - sworn enemies of the Iranian Shia Islamist regime - and is currently hosting Syrian opposition leaders, including rebels fighting the pro-Iranian Assad regime.
It is just the latest in a series of terrorist plots by the Qods Force over the past several years, most of which have focused on Jewish or Israeli targets.
Iranian agents, often working together with Hezbollah terrorists, have attempted to attack Israeli and Jewish targets in Thailand, Georgia, Azerbaijan and India, among other places. Most of the attacks have been foiled in time or were botched by the terrorists, although a bomb attack in Delhi in 2012 injured the wife of an Israel diplomat.
Iran is also suspected of involvement in the deadly 2012 bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria.
Created on Thursday, 02 July 2015 11:13
A jittery Jordan is preparing to create a security zone in southern Syria to fend off a possible jihadist advance across the border, in what would be the first such humanitarian "buffer zone" established in the civil war-torn country.
According to the UK Financial Times, sources familiar with the plans say the buffer zone would cover the Daraa and Suwayda provinces, including the provincial capital city of Daraa, where the uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad first started in 2011.
The aim will be to create a "safe zone" for both civilian refugees and moderate rebel forces, according to the paper.
The idea of such a humanitarian buffer zone has been brought up on numerous occasions, particularly by Syrian opposition groups, but was never seriously considered by neighboring countries keen not to become enmeshed in a bloody sectarian conflict.
But given ISIS's advances in Syria in particular - despite simultaneous losses against Kurds in the far north of the country - Jordan is now drawing up plans for creating one.
Daraa city is currently in the hands of regime forces, but rebels have been making significant gains in the area and some analysts believe the city could fall in the near future. Although the rebel alliance fighting regime forces in the area is not a jihadist one, there are fears ISIS could do as it has done in the past: capitalize on the chaos and gradual withdrawal of regime forces and oust rebels, taking control of the area themselves.
Jordan has already been involved in a limited US program to train several hundred moderate Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group. The Hashemite kingdom is also a member of the anti-ISIS air coalition operating over Syria and Iraq.
But Jordan's government fears that despite a prolonged air campaign and ground offensives by indigenous forces - in particular Kurdish fighters - which have killed a large number of ISIS fighters, the jihadist group still could launch a cross-border offensive into Jordanian territory.
Islamic State has vowed to do just that on several occasions, prompting the Jordanian military to beef-up its presence along the country's porous border with Iraq in particular - where ISIS has come alarmingly close to its borders.
But with ISIS is now advancing towards Jordan's far larger border with Syria as well - recently capturing the ancient city of Palmyra and moving towards Daraa - Amman apparently fears that situation could become unmanageable without proactive action.
It is unclear whether moderate rebels from the Southern Front have been briefed on the plans, with several rebel commanders saying they hadn't heard anything about it.
A no-fly zone would not be officially implemented, but Assad forces would be warned that any attacks on the safe zone would be met with an immediate response.
The plan is believed to be backed by western members of the anti-ISIS coalition, but the Times cited key Obama administration officials as being hesitant to commit to any ground operation in Syria.
Created on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 14:15
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius asked Jordan on Sunday to comply with international procedures as it seeks the extradition of the suspected mastermind
of a deadly attack on a Paris Jewish restaurant in 1982, AFP reported.
"I have asked our Jordanian friends... to respect international procedure," Fabius said in Amman during a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
Fabius said that such a procedure -- apparently an extradition request -- was "under way", but did not directly call for the suspect's extradition.
An Wednesday a French legal source said in Paris that an extradition request for Zuhair Mohamad Hassan Khalid al-Abassi, a 62-year-old suspect of Palestinian origin, was being prepared.
He was detained in Jordan on June 1 and later released on bail. A travel ban was imposed pending a decision on his extradition.
A Jordanian source close to the case told AFP on Thursday that extraditing Abassi to France may prove difficult.
"Jordan does not usually extradite its citizens to other countries, even in the case of an extradition agreement," the source said, adding, "In such a case, they are generally tried in specialized Jordanian courts."
Between three and five men are thought to have taken part in the attack 32 years ago on Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant, which was attributed to the Abu Nidal Organization, officially known as the Fatah-Revolutionary Council and which was considered one of the most ruthless of the Palestinian Arab terrorist groups.
"Amjad Atta" is thought to have been the number three in the group's "special operations committee." Today the 62-year-old terrorist is reportedly "an aging man who works in the construction sector."
Created on Friday, 19 June 2015 16:56
Jordan is gearing up for a possible invasion by Islamic terror groups, local media reported Thursday.
According to reports, King Abdullah II, on a tour this week of border areas near Iraq and Syria, offered to arm Bedouin tribes living in those areas - on both sides of the border - to fight against Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, which threaten Jordan from the east and north.
Abdullah's concern has been growing in recent weeks, reports said, over the fact that after 3,000 bombing raids by the US and its allies, ISIS has not been beaten back – and seems only to get stronger.
With the organization solidifying its rule in much of Iraq and Syria = and in line with its pledge to expand its “Islamic caliphate” to the entire world, starting with the Muslim countries - Abdullah believes that Jordan is high up on ISIS's list for an attempted takeover.
Meanwhile, Jordan faces another danger from the north.
The Al-Nusra group, a fundamentalist organization associated with Al Qaeda, controls much of the area on the other side of the Syrian border. This group, too, has expansionist plans, and the open frontier between Syria and Jordan is almost an open invitation to incursions by the group.
During a tour of the border areas on June 15, Abdullah stated that it was Jordan's obligation “to assist Arab tribes in Iraq and Syria,” hinting that he would rely on the tribes as a first line of defense against incursions by ISIS and Al-Nusra.
The tribes living on both sides of the border have close ties, and Abdullah believes that they would aggressively defend their areas from invasion by the Islamist groups, reports said.
Abdullah's declaration set off rumors in the Arab media that Jordan was preparing to seize border areas on Iraq and Syria in order to fend off invaders. That plan was denied by Ahmad Almoumani, an advisor to Abdullah.
“Jordan has no plans to expand at the expense of neighboring countries, who we respect and value. We hope to preserve our own independence, and our borders," he stressed.
Created on Thursday, 18 June 2015 05:16
Despite recent tensions
between the neighboring nations, President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday evening celebrated Jordanian Independence Day at the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv by giving glowing praise to the Hashemite Kingdom.
He began by speaking in Arabic, sending his regards to the Jordanian King and Queen and all the citizens of Jordan, which the British established by fiat in 1946 when they created a kingdom for Abdullah I of Saudi Arabia.
Rivlin then switched to English, saying, "Jordan is an island of stability in a very complicated region. I have watched with wonder, the very sensitive and wise way Jordan deals with the challenges and changes in our region."
"Since Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement, there has been enormous growth in cooperation; in economic and social areas, and in ground-breaking ideas and initiatives; like the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal project. I do hope we will be able to increase this cooperation to bring benefit to all the people of our region," he added.
The president diplomatically ignored the fact that Jordan has actually threatened on several occasions recently to revoke the peace treaty
, which was signed in 1994, so as to pressure Israel to allow the Jordanian Waqf to continue denying Jews their rights to pray at the Temple Mount, which has been left under the Waqf's de facto authority since being liberated from Jordanian occupation in the 1967 Six Day War.
Rivlin went on to make a familial revelation, saying, "my late father was a great scholar of Islam. His Muslim friends told me, that he fasted during Ramadan when visiting his Muslim friends, only because of the deep respect he felt for his Muslim friends and neighbors. I grew up learning about the rich world of Islam, that is full of beauty, kindness, and mercy."
"May I wish you all many more happy independence celebrations. As we approach the Ramadan fast, I send my blessings to all the people of the Kingdom," concluded the president.
Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Walid Obeidat then spoke. Obeidat was recalled to Jordan
last November until February in an act of protest over talk in Israel of allowing Jews to pray on the Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism.
"The vision and courage of both late leaders Prime Minster (Yitzhak) Rabin and King Hussein, permitted our two countries to sign an historic agreement which confirmed the end of belligerency and ensured mutual recognition, political independence and established diplomatic relations," said Obeidat.
He added, "this year we have seen the advancement of major cooperation projects in the fields of water and energy."
Openly sour relations
Despite the friendly tone of the event, relations with Jordan have been become openly sour of late.
Last November the Jordanian parliament held a special prayer session for the two Arab terrorists
who committed a brutal attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, murdering four Jews at prayer and beheading two of them, as well as murdering a police officer.
Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur also sent a letter of condolence to the families of the two murderous terrorists. Aside from its threats regarding the Temple Mount, Jordan also has been leading the Palestinian Authority's (PA) "diplomatic war
" against Israel at the UN.
Jordan itself is made up of a majority of Palestinian Arabs, and nearly all Arab residents of Judea and Samaria hold Jordanian citizenship, leading many to suggest creating a "Palestine" in Jordan
Created on Monday, 27 April 2015 15:01
A Jordanian columnist is extremely concerned that Arab countries have turned their backs on the kingdom, pushing it straight into Israel's lap.
In the April 12 edition of the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, columnist Maher Abu Tair sheds light on what he calls the "sad" contemporary situation in which the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan finds itself.
He accuses Arab countries of turning their backs on Jordan and abandoning it, pushing Jordan totally into Israel's economic and political lap. Abu Tair calls strongly for a major change that will enable Jordan to find an alternative to relying on Israel.
MEMRI, the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Media and Research Institute, translated and publicized excerpts of the column, most of which are reproduced here:
"It is very saddening that Jordan has grown so weak that it has completely thrown itself into the lap of Israel, contrary to public sentiment and [at the expense of] its honor... This is the unfortunate reality, and those who follow events can see Jordan's headlong rush towards Israel and the overlap of [their] political and economic interests…
"Jordan has grown weak to the point of total reliance on Israel, as part of which Israel will sell us the Palestinian natural gas [it has] stolen as an alternative to the Egyptian natural gas that is denied [to us] by the mujahideen [i.e. jihadists] of the [Sinai] desert.
"[Also as part of this reliance, Jordan and Israel have agreed on] the massive Two Seas Canal project and [the issue of] the Aqaba Airport [referring to the issue of the Ramon Airport that Israel is building near Eilat]. In the past, Jordan threatened to oppose [the building of the Israeli airport] but now it has withdrawn its objection on the condition that takeoffs and landings be coordinated [with the Aqaba Airport]...
"The naked truth is that Jordan no longer has any Arab allies, and today its only ally against the entire Arab east is Israel. If the Arabs had wanted a strong Jordan that did not throw itself at Israel, they would not have abandoned it economically and besieged it politically to the point that its foreign policy became fickle. [Nowadays] we go to bed supporting Tehran and wake up opposing it in Yemen."
"Israel holds the regional keys"
MEMRI explained that early this year, Jordan and Iran began growing closer after eight years of disconnect. However, on March 26, immediately after Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Jordan aligned itself with Saudi Arabia.
"At other times [the Al-Dustour column continued] we are against Istanbul and with Tehran. We go to bed with [the PA in] Ramallah but wake up with Hamas...
"Our relations with our Arab and Islamic neighbors have become based on variables, while those with Israel are based on constants. The relations with Israel are longstanding, and currently take a new, friendlier form in terms of economics, agriculture, and coordination on all levels. It is as if Jordan is saying that it knows who holds the secret key to the regional gates and is turning directly to those who hold the keys to ensuring its existence, namely Israel.
"This correspondence between [our relations] with Israel and Jordan's existence is dangerous, unsafe, and full of [unpleasant] surprises. We cannot rely on it, even if some in Amman believe that relations with Israel could provide protection against Washington's and the Arabs' betrayal.
"Today more than ever in Jordanian history, the relations with Israel are overt, on all levels. There are many reasons for this, but we must find a different formula to protect our existence. Even if all the equations around us are unstable and dangerous, and even if Amman instinctively feels that Israel is its only option, we must find another solution that ensures our ongoing existence but does not entail agreeing to pay Israel the price...
"It is saddening to see that Jordan's only option today is [the country] to its West [meaning Israel]. We don't know who to blame [for this]. Should we blame ourselves, for desiring it despite our stated objections? Or the [situation], because the Arabs have left us no other option or because recent history is rife with dangers and turmoil, forcing us to defend ourselves even at the price of dealing with the devil?! The question is open for debate."
Created on Wednesday, 01 April 2015 04:48
Conflicts in Iraq and Syria are changing the Middle East. As a result of ethnic warfare, literally hundreds of thousands of Arabs of different cultural backgrounds have fled for safer borders around the region. The result, claims Pinhas Inbari of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, will have major implications on Israel’s immediate neighbors: Jordan and the Palestinians.
Jordan has had a tumultuous relationship with Palestinians since the Israeli War of Independence. Many Arabs fled to Jordan and residents of Judea and Samaria became full citizens of Jordan while the country occupied it. But Jordan has been reluctant to extend that courtesy to the descendants of refugees living in Jordan. The monarchy fears that were that to happen, they would open the door back up to the "Jordan is Palestine" argument.
During the Iraq War, some 1 million Iraqis fled to Jordan, and there they have stayed as far as Inbari is aware. The remarkable part of the community is that it is diverse: a substantial portion, if not half of those refugees, are Shiite. Today, upwards of perhaps 500,000 people in Jordan are Shiite.
“Jordan has never had a (large) Shiite population in its history; this is the first time they’ve had one inside the kingdom.”
Jordan does not publish official data on the number of refugees in the country based on its older fear that a demonstration of high numbers might reinforce those refugees’ demands for permanent residency or citizenship. The Wikipedia article on the topic, Iraqis in Jordan
, cites a lower number of 200,000 total Iraqis living there, but that there is not a single citation for that fact demonstrates how ambiguous the situation is.
Either way, the number is still high.
What’s more is that many of those Iraqis who went to Jordan were from the Iraqi middle class. Many are thought to have blended into the population using their financial resources, making it hard to track them down. Add to this another million Sunni refugees from Syria, and you have a much more diverse demographic landscape in Jordan.
“Jordan is now witnessing a tremendous demographic change,” remarks Inbari. “It’s not farfetched to imagine they might demand rights, for example to build Shiite mosques or be recognized as a sect. This does not even speak to the possible security infiltration by terrorists.”
A plethora of militias were fighting in Iraq when those refugees arrived in Amman; the same is true of Syria today. But what could be significant to Israel in the long term is that this might secure King Abdullah II’s resistance to letting Jordan be "too much" of the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“That means the Palestinian percentage of the Jordanian population is declining,” said Inbari in an article referencing the phenomenon last June. “
And indeed it is now doubtful whether it can still be asserted that Jordan has a Palestinian majority.”
That might allow Jordan a number of options, but mainly puts to rest the argument that Jordan could somehow become the Palestinian state, he says.
This could also present a different problem. Not well known today is that the Palestinian Authority’s professed national flag is actually the old flag of the entire Pan-Arab movement. With the influx of so many Arabs from other countries, could a new sort of pan-Arab identity take hold inside Jordan?
“This touches on an important point,” said Inbari. “The Palestinian problem belongs to this issue of pan-Arabism - they speak now in the open that the Palestinian problem is part of a larger conflict between pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism, represented by the PLO on the one side and Hamas on the other (respectively).”
For now, Israel’s main concern might be security-minded though, in the event that organizations like ISIS or other Islamist groups in Syria might look to penetrate the Israeli border from the much more peaceful boundary with Jordan. But Inbari says that the vast majority of the refugees cannot think about politically causing problems for Amman right now, much less conflict with Israel.
“Everybody is converging in Amman. The Jordanians are trying to contain Syrian refugees in northern part of the country in order to return them at the first opportunity, but they are spreading out. I was told that many are in the Jordan Valley on the Jordanian side.”
“They aren't politically minded – they want to find jobs and escape their economic distress.”
Created on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 20:47
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) resumed air strikes on Tuesday against the Islamic State (ISIS) group which it had suspended after the jihadists captured a Jordanian pilot in December and burned him alive, the military said.
"Aircraft of the F-16 squadron based in Jordan launched raids this morning against positions of the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist organization, hitting their targets and returning safely to base," the UAE armed forces command said, reports AFP.
Jordan and the UAE are part of the US-led coalition that has been carrying out air strikes against ISIS since last year.
Monday's statement did not say how many aircraft from the UAE squadron were in action, or where or what their targets were.
The squadron deployed to Jordan on Sunday to boost the kingdom's fight against ISIS after the jihadists brutally murdered the captured pilot.
C-17 transporters and refuelling planes were also sent on the orders of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan as a show of solidarity.
"The initiative...reaffirms the UAE's unwavering and constant solidarity with Jordan and its leading role and immense sacrifices for the security and stability of the region as embodied by martyr and hero Maaz al-Kassasbeh," the UAE state news agency WAM said on Sunday.
Kassasbeh is the Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS when his plane crashed over northern Syria in December. The jihadists later burned him alive and publicized the video of his hideous murder.
Following Kassasbeh's murder, the UAE withdrew from the coalition's strike missions over fears for the safety of its pilots.
The New York Times reported that the UAE wanted more to be done in terms of search and rescue of downed pilots in the conflict zones.
On Thursday, the US military said it had deployed aircraft and troops to northern Iraq to boost its ability to rescue downed coalition pilots.
A US official said on Friday, after US Secretary of State John Kerry met Gulf ministers in Munich, that UAE flights were likely to resume "in a couple of days."
Created on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 20:19
Bahrain's royal ruler told his Jordanian counterpart that he is ready to assist the kingdom in its fight against terror organization Islamic State, the royal palace in Amman said Monday.
King Hamad of Bahrain, quoted in a palace statement, told King Abdullah II that he was "proud to provide all the help Jordan needs to combat terrorism and protect Islam from Daesh (ISIS)."
Talks between the two monarchs in Amman on Monday focused on reinforcing military cooperation between their countries, notably their air forces, the statement said.
Jordan has vowed to intensify its air strikes against ISIS as part of a US-led coalition after ISIS terrorists burned alive one of its pilots captured in December when his F-16 fighter jet went down over Syria.
The United Arab Emirates on Sunday deployed a squadron of F-16s in Jordan to support Amman's campaign against the jihadi extremists, who seized large parts of Iraq and Syria last year.
Created on Monday, 09 February 2015 19:54
Jordan announced it has carried out dozens of air strikes on the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, as a top US envoy said Iraqi troops would begin a major ground offensive against the jihadists in the weeks ahead.
Jordanian air force chief Major General Mansour al-Jobour said Sunday the kingdom had launched 56 air raids since Thursday as part of an international assault against ISIS that Washington says is beginning to bite, reports AFP.
Jordan has vowed an "earth-shattering" response after the Sunni extremists captured one of its air force pilots, Maaz al-Kassasbeh, burned him alive and released a gruesome video of the execution.
"On the first day of the campaign to avenge our airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh, 19 targets were destroyed, including training camps and equipment," Jobour told reporters.
John Allen, the US coordinator for the anti-ISIS coalition of Western and Arab countries, said Sunday that Iraqi troops would begin a major ground offensive against the jihadists "in the weeks ahead."
"When the Iraqi forces begin the ground campaign to take back Iraq, the coalition will provide major firepower associated with that," he told Jordan's official Petra news agency, stressing that the Iraqis would lead the offensive.
ISIS have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, brutally ruling the territory by Sharia Islamic law.
Jordan has vowed to crush the group after they released a highly choreographed video showing the murder of its pilot, who was captured in December when his F-16 warplane went down in Syria.
The air force chief said air strikes since last Thursday had destroyed dozens of targets, including barracks, training camps, ammunition and fuel depots, and residential centers.
"So far, the campaign has destroyed 20% of the fighting capabilities of Daesh," Jobour said, using another name for ISIS.
Jobour said more than 7,000 ISIS terrorists had been killed since Jordan began participating in coalition air strikes.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the aerial campaign, launched in September, was beginning to win back territory and deprive the jihadists of key funds.
There have been 2,000 air strikes on ISIS since the coalition's formation in August, Kerry told a security conference in the German city of Munich.
The air war has helped to retake some 700 square kilometers (270 square miles) of territory, or "one-fifth of the area they had in their control", he said.
The top US diplomat did not specify whether the regained territory was in Iraq or Syria.
But he added the coalition had "deprived the militants of the use of 200 oil and gas facilities...disrupted their command structure...squeezed its finance and dispersed its personnel."
State media reported that a squadron of United Arab Emirates F-16 fighter jets arrived in Jordan on Sunday, escorted by pilots and technicians.
The UAE had withdrawn from the coalition's strike missions after the Jordanian pilot's capture over fears for the safety of its own airmen. But the US had said on Friday that UAE flights were likely to resume "in a couple of days."
C-17 transporters and refuelling planes were part of the UAE squadron sent on the orders of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the Petra news agency said.
Turning point for Jordan
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said Sunday that Kurdish forces had retaken from ISIS more than a third of the villages around Kobane, a strategic town on the Syrian-Turkish border.
The Kurds recaptured Kobane on January 26 after four months of fierce fighting backed by Syrian rebels and coalition air strikes.
But Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told ABC television that while the bombing campaign had "degraded" ISIS capability, the group was still in control of "vast territory."
Interior Minister Hussein Majali said in remarks published on Saturday that Kassasbeh's gruesome murder by ISIS was a "turning point" in the kingdom's fight against extremism.
As Jordan escalated its assault, ISIS claimed on Friday that an American aid worker it had taken hostage - 26-year-old Kayla Jean Mueller - had been buried alive under rubble by a coalition strike on its self-proclaimed capital of Raqa in Syria.
Mueller's parents said they were hopeful their daughter was still alive and appealed to ISIS to contact them in order to ensure her safe return.
On Sunday, US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Washington was seeking clarification on Mueller's fate.
"We're learning as much as we can as quickly as we can about Ms. Mueller's situation," he told CNN. "Our thoughts, our prayers are with her family right now."
Created on Sunday, 08 February 2015 18:47
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday ordered a squadron of F-16 warplanes to be stationed in Jordan to support it in strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) group, apparently taking back its decision last Wednesday to withdraw
from the US-led anti-ISIS coalition.
The federation's official WAM news agency said Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, deputy head of the UAE armed forces, had ordered the move, reports AFP.
"The initiative...reaffirms the UAE's unwavering and constant solidarity with Jordan and its leading role and immense sacrifices for the security and stability of the region as embodied by martyr and hero Maaz al-Kassasbeh," the Jordanian pilot burned alive by ISIS, the agency reported.
WAM said the deployment was aimed at supporting Jordan's military in the fight against "the brutal terrorist organisation" ISIS, without specifying the number of aircraft involved or their role.
It said the jihadist organization "showed all the world its ugliness and violation of all religious and human values through abominable crimes" that caused "outrage and disgust" among Arab peoples.
After Kassasbeh's warplane crashed in Syria in December and following his capture by ISIS, the UAE withdrew from the US-led coalition's strike missions over fears for the safety of its pilots.
However, a US official said on Friday, after US Secretary of State John Kerry met Gulf ministers in Munich, that UAE flights were likely to resume "in a couple of days."
Abu Dhabi had also "reaffirmed its commitment to the coalition" brought together by the United States to try to defeat the terrorists who have taken over a swathe of territory in Iraq and Syria.
Another US official said that among all the Gulf countries the pilot's brutal immolation by ISIS "has been a unifying event doubling their resolve to take the fight to Daesh," using an Arabic acronym for the terror group.
Created on Sunday, 08 February 2015 12:52
Queen Rania joined thousands of people who turned out after midday prayers in Jordan's capital Friday to express their solidarity with the pilot murdered by the Islamic State (ISIS) group.
Wearing a black suit and a red-and-white checked keffiyeh over her shoulders, she mixed with the crowd as it marched from the central Al-Husseini mosque to Palm Park, about one kilometers (half a mile) away.
The queen, wife of King Abdullah II, did not address the rally, where marchers chanted "We are all Maaz," a reference to pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, and "We are all Jordan."
Placards were also held aloft that read: "Yes to punishment. Yes to the eradication of terrorism."
On Thursday, the royal couple visited Kassasbeh's family - which has urged the government to "destroy" the jihadists - to pay their condolences.
Kassasbeh was captured by ISIS in December after his F-16 crashed in Syria while on a mission for the US-led coalition against the Sunni extremist group.
His death has sparked grief and deep anger in Jordan.
In November, Palestinian-born Queen Rania urged support for US-led air strikes against ISIS, saying the future of the Middle East and Islam were at stake.
"Our silence is the greatest gift" for ISIS, which has seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria, she told a media summit in Abu Dhabi. "We are complicit in their success."
She said the fight went beyond the battleground and was between moderates and extremists worldwide.
"Winning also depends on our ability to conquer the philosophical battleground as well. Because at the heart of this assault is an ideology," she said.
Created on Sunday, 08 February 2015 10:41
Jordan said air strikes against the Islamic State group are only the start of its retaliation for the burning alive of one of its pilots, vowing to "eradicate" the jihadists, according to AFP.
Jordan's military said "dozens of jet fighters" struck ISIS targets on Thursday, hitting terrorist training camps as well as weapons and ammunition depots.
Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told CNN the operation was "the beginning of our retaliation over this horrific and brutal murder of our brave young pilot. "But it's not the beginning of our fight against terrorism and extremism."
The gruesome murder of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, captured by ISIS in December after his F-16 crashed in Syria, has sparked grief and deep anger in Jordan.
Judeh declined to reveal Jordan's military plans but said it would hit the terrorists with all its might.
"We're upping the ante. We're going after them wherever they are, with everything that we have. But it's not the beginning, and it's certainly not the end," he said. "We're going to go after them and we will eradicate them... We are at the forefront. This is our fight."
Jordan has conducted regular air raids against ISIS across the border in Syria as part of a US-led campaign against the Sunni extremist group.
Created on Sunday, 08 February 2015 10:25
The United Arab Emirates, which suspended air strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group, wants the US-led coalition to arm Sunni tribes in Iraq to fight the jihadists, government media reported Friday.
The daily Al-Ittihad said the Emirates' decision to stop raids in Syria last year was "due to the need to assure adequate protection for all pilots
participating in strikes against Daesh" - an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
An even greater concern, according to the paper, is the lack of support for Sunni tribes in Iraq's Anbar province, large parts of which have been overrun by the jihadists.
"The most important reservation...is the dissatisfaction with the coalition which has not kept its promise to remember the Sunnis of Anbar, to
train and equip them in the war against Daesh," it said.
"Neither air strikes nor a media war are sufficient to defeat" ISIS, the paper added.
The UAE pulled out of air strike missions in December, shortly after a Jordanian pilot was captured by ISIS extremists after his F-16 fighter jet went down in eastern Syria, according to US officials.
Airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh was later burned alive by the jihadists in a gruesome video released this week.
The Pentagon said Thursday it was redeploying some aircraft from Kuwait to northern Iraq to boost its ability to rescue downed coalition pilots, as requested by the UAE.
ISIS spearheaded a major offensive in June that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad, including significant parts of Anbar.
Sunni tribal fighters have played a key role in keeping the jihadists from gaining further ground in the province.
Created on Saturday, 07 February 2015 22:25
Jordan said its warplanes launched dozens of new strikes Thursday against the Islamic State group, after vowing a harsh response to the burning alive of a pilot captured in Syria.
The news came as scores of people were killed when rebels unleashed rocket fire on Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad's forces retaliated.
Jordan's military said "dozens of jet fighters" struck ISIS targets on Thursday morning, "hitting training camps of the terrorist groups as well as weapons and ammunition warehouses".
It did not say where the targets were located - ISIS holds swathes of Syria and Iraq - but said they were destroyed and the aircraft returned home safely.
American F-16 and F-22 jets provided security to the Jordanian fighter planes, with additional support from refueling tankers and surveillance aircraft, US officials said.
Washington has also deployed aircraft and troops to northern Iraq to boost capabilities to rescue downed pilots fighting with the international coalition that is battling ISIS, a US defense official told AFP.
ISIS has released a highly choreographed video of the horrifying murder of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whose death has sparked grief and deep anger in Jordan.
Jordan's military has pledged to "destroy this terrorist group and kill the evil in its own place", saying it would punish ISIS for the "heinous act" of burning him alive.
King Abdullah II visited the airman's family, who have urged the government to "destroy" the jihadists, to pay his condolences.
Jordan has conducted regular raids against ISIS across the border in Syria as part of a US-led campaign against the Sunni extremist group.
More than 200,000 people have died since anti-government protests erupted in Syria in early 2011, escalating into a multi-sided civil war that brought jihadists streaming into the country.
At least 66 people, including 12 children, were killed by regime air strikes and shelling on rebel areas around Damascus Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The assault on the Eastern Ghouta region came after rebels fired more than 100 rockets at the city, killing 10 people including a child, the
Britain-based group said.
Created on Saturday, 07 February 2015 22:12
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Thursday by telephone with Jordanian King Abdullah II, the premier's office said, apparently their first contact since Jordan announced its ambassador was returning
to Tel Aviv, reports AFP.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu extended his condolences to the King and to the Jordanian people" over the murder of a Jordanian air force pilot who was burned to death
by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, a statement said.
Netanyahu "noted the importance of the Jordanian ambassador's return to Israel and of the joint commitment to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites" in Jerusalem, it added.
On Monday, Amman announced that its envoy would return to his post in Tel Aviv three months after being recalled over "violation
s" at the Temple Mount - namely growing talk of allowing equal Jewish prayer rights at the holiest site in Judaism.
Jordan recalled Walid Obdeidat on November 5 after Arab rioters attacked police with rocks and other projectiles at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Mount, and police responded by locking them in the mosque. At the time Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh described Israel's enforcement of law and order on the site as "violations" and "way beyond the limits."
Jordan said the decision to return Obeidat to Israel comes after the government "felt that the situation (at Al-Aqsa) is in the right direction."
After Arab nations pressured
Israel, Netanyahu declared his desire to preserve the discriminatory "status quo" of no Jewish prayer at the site, which is under the de facto rule of the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust).
Obeidat's recall had put enormous pressure on already frosty ties between Israel and the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state - a treaty Jordan recently threatened to revoke
, even as it has been leading the Palestinian Authority's (PA) "diplomatic wa
r" against Israel at the UN.
Around half of Jordan's population of seven million defines itself as "Palestinian," with many urging that a "Palestine" be established there
, particularly given that the state was created by fiat by the British after World War II.
Created on Thursday, 05 February 2015 06:50
The Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) reportedly broadcast footage of its fighters burning alive a Jordanian pilot in public areas throughout its de-facto capitol of Raqqa in northern Syria.
"Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently" - a group made up of anonymous activists who risk their lives to expose ISIS atrocities in areas under its control - first reported news of the gruesome spectacle, which played out throughout the city following the release of the video Tuesday.
"Using large viewing screens and Movie projectors across the City of al Raqqa, #ISIS Played the Burning of the #JordanianPilot... Mouaz Al Kasasbeh for the public to watch over and over again..." the group said in a series of Twitter posts.
ISIS regularly publicizes its executions and other forms of brutal punishments as a way of instilling fear in local populations and discourage them against rebelling despite their desperate conditions. In Raqqa - once a hub of relative modernity in Syria - residents say they have suffered greatly since ISIS took over and implemented its authoritarian Islamic law, with food shortages and regular power outages compounding their misery.
is possibly the most gruesome yet by ISIS, which has tended to behead previous hostages.
In the slick, high-quality production, al-Kassasbeh is first seen sitting behind a desk addressing the camera and condemning coalition strikes against ISIS. After that, he is shown walking past rows of masked terrorists into a metal cage, while doused in petrol; once inside, one of the terrorists lights a fuse leading into the cage, and he is engulfed in flames. A tractor is then used to bury his charred body in rubble.
Despite only releasing the video yesterday, it soon emerged that ISIS had in all likelihood killed al-Kassasbeh a month ago, with Jordanian state TV reporting his execution took place on January 3rd.
And a tweet on January 8 by the head of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, who writes under the pseudonym "Abu-Ibraham al-Raqqawi", had detailed a conversation between ISIS fighters in which they gloated of having burned the Jordanian airman to death.
Meanwhile, the fate of al-Kassasbeh appears to have had an effect on at least one member of the international coalition against ISIS, as reports surfaced that the United Arab Emirates pulled out of the air campaign against the so-called Islamic State after the pilot's capture in late December.
The UAE suspended air strikes after the capture due to fears over the safety of its own pilots, according to the New York Times.
The United Arab Emirates want the US to improve its search-and-rescue efforts, including the use of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, in northern Iraq, closer to the battleground.
As it stands, the US-led mission is based in Kuwait, administration officials said, according to the Times.
It said UAE pilots will not rejoin the fight until the Ospreys - which take off and land like helicopters but fly like planes - are deployed in northern Iraq.
Al-Kassassbeh was captured by ISIS terrorists within minutes of his plane crashing in December near Raqqa, Syria, but UAE officials questioned if American military rescue teams would have been able to reach the pilot even if there had been more time for a rescue effort, administration officials said.
UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan asked Barbara Leaf, the new US ambassador, why the United States had not put proper resources in northern Iraq for rescuing downed pilots, a senior administration official said, according to the Times.
Several rescue efforts do indeed appear to have been made to save the Jordanian pilot, including one on January 1st
- just days before he was likely executed.
But that operation failed after special forces were forced to withdraw under heavy fire.
Created on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 09:19
Jordan’s King Abdullah on Tuesday described the Islamic State (ISIS) as a “cowardly” organization, and added that its killing of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh will only strengthen Jordanians.
“We have received with all sorrow, grief and anger, the news of the martyrdom of the brave pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, may Allah bless his soul, at the hand of the terrorist and cowardly Daesh organization, this criminal, stray gang that has nothing to do with our true religion,” the King said in a statement quoted by the Jordan Times and in which he used an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“At this difficult time, it is the duty of all citizens to unify their ranks and show the true character of the Jordanian people when they face hardships and plights, which will only strengthen us and reinforce our unity,” added King Abdullah, who is currently on a visit to the United States which he said he would cut short.
Kassasbeh was captured on December 24 after his F-16 jet crashed while on a mission over northern Syria as part of the US-led coalition campaign against the jihadists.
The highly produced, 22-minute video shows footage of Kassasbeh sitting at a table discussing coalition operations against ISIS, with flags from the various Western and Arab countries in the alliance projected in the background.
Speaking to Sky News Arabic under condition of anonymity, a Jordanian security official claimed Sajida al-Rishawi
- a failed female suicide-bomber whose release ISIS had demanded in a previous video in exchange for Japanese hostage Kenji Goto - would have her execution sentence expedited along with four other Islamist terrorists, in response to the horrific execution of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh.
The five convicted terrorists would be executed "within hours" the source claimed.
Created on Tuesday, 03 February 2015 18:46
Just hours after a video surfaced showing the ISIS terrorist group executing a captive Jordanian pilot by burning him alive
, Jordan is preparing to execute five terrorist prisoners in revenge, according to a report.
Speaking to Sky News Arabic under condition of anonymity, a Jordanian security official claimed Sajida al-Rishawi
- a failed female suicide-bomber whose release ISIS had demanded in a previous video in exchange for Japanese hostage Kenji Goto - would have her execution sentence expedited along with four other Islamist terrorists, in response to the horrific execution of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh.
The five convicted terrorists would be executed "within hours" the source claimed.
Shortly after, another official told the AFP news agency that al-Rishawi would be "executed at dawn," but did not mention any other executions.
"The sentence of death pending on... Iraqi Sajida al-Rishawi will be carried out at dawn," the security official said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In an official statement to Jordanian state TV, a Jordanian army spokesman confirmed al-Kassasbeh's death and vowed "revenge", without elaborating further.
"The military forces announce that the hero pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, has fallen as a martyr, and ask God to accept him with the martyrs," Mamdouh al-Ameri said in a statement, translated by the Associated Press.
"While the military forces mourn the martyr, they emphasize his blood will not be shed in vain. Our punishment and revenge will be as huge as the loss of the Jordanians," he added.
US President Barack Obama also issued a response to the gruesome execution video Tuesday, saying that if it was authenticated it just shows the organization's "barbarity", and would strengthen the resolve of the international coalition mobilized against it.
"Should in fact this video be authentic, it's just one more indication of the viciousness (and) barbarity of this organization," Obama said, adding it would "redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of the global coalition to make sure" ISIS is "ultimately defeated."
And the general leading the US-led war against ISIS also denounced the "savage" execution of al-Kassasbeh.
"US Central Command strongly condemns ISIL's savage murder" of Lieutenant Maaz al-Kassasbeh and "will fight this barbaric enemy until it is defeated," General Lloyd Austin, head of the US Central Command, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Jordanian state TV reported that al-Kassasbeh was in fact executed as early as January 3rd.
And analysts, including Middle East expert Aymenn Tamimi, also pointed to a posts on Twitter a month ago by anti-ISIS activists, claiming already then that Kassasbeh had been "burned to death."
Tamimi told Arutz Sheva it was likely the Islamic State group only released the video now because "Jordan called IS' bluff by demanding proof the pilot was alive."
ISIS had previously offered to free Japanese hostage Kenji Goto in return for Sajida al-Rishawi, but the deal stalled after the jihadists inexplicably balked at Jordan's demand for proof that al-Kassasbeh was alive.
If reports he was in fact executed as far back as a month ago are true, it would mean he was already dead when the offer of a prisoner swap was made.
Created on Friday, 30 January 2015 21:10
Failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi, thrust into the spotlight by the demand by Islamic State (ISIS) that she be released in a prisoner exchange, is an important symbol for the jihadists, experts told AFP.
Closely linked to ISIS's predecessor organization in Iraq, Rishawi is on death row in Jordan for her role in 2005 suicide bombings in Amman that killed 60 and shocked Jordan.
ISIS has said it would trade Rishawi for Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, most recently threatening to kill captured Jordanian F-16 pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh if the exchange does not go through.
Rishawi, now 44, was arrested four days after the November 9, 2005 attacks in which her husband Ali Hussein al-Shammari and two other Iraqis blew themselves up in Amman.
The heaviest casualties came when Shammari detonated his explosives belt at the Radisson SAS hotel as a wedding was in full swing. Two other hotels were hit in the coordinated attacks and most of the dead were Jordanians.
"Rishawi is important for her link to Al-Qaeda in Iraq and one of the most significant operations outside Iraq in its history - the Amman bombings," Aymenn al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, said in reference to the group that preceded ISIS.
The sudden focus on Rishawi is mainly down to the fact that ISIS has the Jordanian pilot, presenting an opportunity for a prisoner exchange, he said.
ISIS "wants to be seen as a state by other actors and this proposed mutual prisoner swap with an enemy nation - as opposed to a mere release for ransom that is common among armed groups - is one way to realize that goal," Tamimi said.
Televised confession of a failed bombing
"She was with Zarqawi in the basic group that founded the original ISIS," Hassan Abu Hanieh, an expert on Islamist groups, said in reference to Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian.
Explaining her value he elaborated "she is very important because she is Iraqi, she is Sunni and from Anbar. She is the sister of a former emir (leader) and her brothers are martyrs."
Oraib Rentawi, the director of the Amman-based Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, agreed, saying: "IS(IS) wants Rishawi and no one else for the moral and symbolic importance she has. Her name was linked to Zarqawi and to the bombings (in) Amman."
Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air raid in Iraq in June 2006, claimed the triple bombings in Amman. Rishawi's brother, Samir Atruss al-Rishawi, was a Zarqawi lieutenant who was also killed in Iraq.
After her arrest, Jordanian authorities paraded Rishawi on state television for her to confess that she had accompanied her husband to Jordan to carry out the attacks.
During her televised confession, Rishawi displayed an explosives belt strapped across her long black robe and spoke calmly about how the operation was to have been carried out.
Rishawi, who appeared with a white head scarf, said that at the last minute she had not managed to activate her belt to blow herself up.
She said her husband was one of the bombers, that they had traveled from Iraq using fake passports and he had shown her how to activate the explosives.
Her trial opened in April 2006, with Zarqawi also on the charge sheet, and she was later sentenced to death. A security source said she now spends most of her time in a women's prison reading the Koran and watching Islamic TV channels.
Created on Thursday, 29 January 2015 07:39
Jordan is willing to free an Iraqi female jihadist from prison in exchange for a Jordanian pilot held hostage by the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS), state television said Wednesday.
"Jordan is ready to release the prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi if the Jordanian pilot is freed unharmed," it quoted a government spokesman as saying.
ISIS, in a video released on Tuesday, threatened to kill
airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto unless Amman releases al-Rishawi within 24 hours.
The demand to release al-Rishawi - while dropping demands for a $200 million ransom - raised eyebrows, and sent analysts scrambling to discover who she was to be of such importance to ISIS.
According to one report
al-Rishawi, who is currently appealing a 2006 death sentence handed to her by a Jordanian court, is the sister of a top deputy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's predecessor, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Created on Wednesday, 28 January 2015 10:55
The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group threatened Tuesday to kill a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian pilot within 24 hours if Amman refuses to free a jailed female jihadist.
The video released on jihadist websites shows a picture of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding a photograph of captured Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh with a voiceover purportedly by Goto relaying the threat.
Japan on Wednesday responded to the video, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying "the government in this extremely difficult situation has been asking for assistance from the Jordanian government towards securing Goto's early release," reports AFP.
Japan and Jordan are working together
to try and secure the release of the two captives, after ISIS apparently beheaded Japanese contractor Haruna Yukawa last week after a 72-hour deadline for a $200 million ransom passed without payment.
It had also threatened to behead Goto at the same deadline, but in a video released Saturday, the group said its demand had now changed and it wanted failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi released from death row in Jordan in exchange for Goto.
Rishawi is a would-be Iraqi female suicide bomber who is on death row in connection with triple hotel bomb attacks in Amman that killed 60 people on November 9, 2005.
The Amman bombings were claimed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq who was killed in a US air raid there in June 2006.
His group was a precursor of the ISIS group, and Rishawi's brother, Samir Atruss al-Rishawi, who was also killed in Iraq, was one of Zarqawi's lieutenants.
Goto recorded a video of himself before he entered Syria late last October to report on the situation and locate Yukawa. In it, he identified himself and said "no matter what happens I will not bear a grudge against the Syrian people. No matter what happens, the responsibility is mine
"Please, everyone in Japan, do not place any responsibility on the Syrian people," he said in the video message. Smiling, he added "I'll definitely come back alive though."
Created on Saturday, 03 January 2015 05:38
A Jordanian Muslim cleric has been arrested for advocating Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, just a week after he issued a public statement retracting the comments following a hail of criticism.
In a video statement posted online on December 18, Salafi cleric Sheikh Yassin Al-Ajlouni said a place of worship for Jews should be established on the Temple Mount, noting its religious importance to Judaism - although he emphasized that the site should remain "under Hashemite [Jordanian] sovereignty and control," as per existing arrangements.
"There should be a special place of worship for the Jews among the Israelis under Hashemite and Palestinian sovereignty, and in agreement with the Israeli regime," Al-Ajlouni said
"This by no means entails the harming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock," he added, clarifying that under his vision "part of the courtyard, where there are trees, will be allocated for the prayer of the Israelis."
He further called on Jordanian and Palestinian Islamic scholars to issue a fatwa (religious ruling) to "clarify their religious position regarding the building of a place of worship dedicated for the Israeli Jews."
Watch: Muslim cleric advocates Jewish prayers rights on Temple Mount
But the comments unsurprisingly drew the ire of authorities, who do not recognize the Jewish claim to the Temple Mount, leading him to issue a public retraction.
In a video dated December 28, the cleric said: "I am retracting my call, in my previous video, to allocate a place of worship for the Jews (on the Temple Mount)."
"The Israelis interpreted this call as if I were saying that they have a right to Bayt al-Maqdis [Temple Mount]," he continued. "I would like to emphasize that Bay al-Maqdis is pure Islamic land.
"No one is allowed to give it up, trivialize it, or to pass sovereignty over it to any non-Muslim party."
Watch: Al-Ajlouni forced to retract comments
However, apparently that was not enough for Jordanian authorities, who arrested him not long after his retraction.
According to Jordanian media, first cited by the Elder of Ziyon blog, Al-Ajlouni was arrested on the orders of the Administrative Governor of the Irbid Governorate.
In addition, the "General Mufti Department" Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Sheikh Ajlouni, who is a physics teacher, calling on the Ministry of Education to take "appropriate administrative action" against him "for issuing random fatwas that hurt the feelings of Muslims, and affected the Jordanian efforts to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Zionist attacks."
Despite its status as the holiest site in Judaism, Jews are currently banned from praying on the Temple Mount (as are other non-Muslims) due to pressure and threats from Muslim groups - not least among them the Waqf Islamic trust, which administers the site under Jordanian auspices as per Jordan's peace treaty with Israel. Jewish activists
have been campaigning to change that, branding such measures illegal and discriminatory - and have faced hostility and even violence, sometimes deadly, by Muslim extremists in response.
Al-Ajlouni's comments were unusual given the current discourse within the Muslim world, which denies any Jewish connection to the site. Prominent Jewish Temple Mount rights activist Rabbi Chaim Richman praised his "bold" statement
as "extremely positive."
Up until the 20th century Islamic literature consistently referred to the Mount as the site of the Jewish Temple of Solomon, but Arab and Muslim opposition to the growing Zionist movement sparked a wave of revisionism which saw nearly all reference to the site's Jewish heritage removed from their history books. Today, the Waqf and Palestinian Authority deny that the Temple Mount was ever Jewish, and actively seek to erase any traces of its Jewish past by destroying precious artifacts
Created on Friday, 26 December 2014 19:25
A Jordanian parliamentarian is so much against her country’s gas deal with Israel, that she would rather set herself on fire than see the deal being implemented.
The MP, Hind Al-Fayez, said in a television interview that a Jordanian-Israeli gas deal was tantamount to having "dealings with Satan."
"I will use firewood or even set myself on fire, but I will never import Israeli gas," she declared. The interview aired on the Jordanian/U.K. ANB channel on December 14 and was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
"Gas supply is part of national security, so how can we link it to an enemy who does not respect its commitments?" asked Jamal Qamwa, who heads parliament's energy commission.
"We are bound to Israel by a peace treaty, but it does not respect it... It is also attacking our people in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip," he added.
"This whole issue is not about importing gas or about prices. Buying from Israel will make us hostage to the Zionist enemy," he said.
Jordan's main opposition Islamist party threatened this week to take legal action
against anyone in the kingdom who signs the controversial gas deal with Israel.
Though Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel, the country’s parliament, which is made up mostly of Islamists, remains anti-Israel and its members have more than once called to annul the peace treaty.
In November, following a terrorist attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem, Jordan's parliament held a prayer
and a minute's silence in honor of “the spirit” of the two terrorists who carried out the attack.
Created on Tuesday, 11 November 2014 05:30
Senior Egyptian officials both from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government and the army have contacted their Israeli counterparts in the last two days, threatening that the tensions over the Temple Mount may cause "regional deterioration."
The covert communication, which was revealed to the Hebrew-language site Walla!, included a warning regarding Jordan's move to pull its ambassador
to Israel on Wednesday, after Arab rioters attacked police on the Mount - the holiest site in Judaism - and forced them to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque after barricading themselves inside and launching a hail of fireworks and rocks.
The Egyptian sources reportedly said Jordan isn't the only country that is "upset" by the tensions at the site, and that the entire Arab world is united in opposing Israel's enforcement of order on the Mount, which is under the de facto control of the Jordanian waqf (Islamic trust).
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) visited the Mount
in a call for Jewish prayer rights at the site on Sunday, after Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick was shot last Wednesday by an Arab terrorist; likewise, Building Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) dismissed Jordanian threats
regarding the Mount.
In response, the Egyptian sources reportedly demanded that Israel's leadership "rein in" the statements.
The demand casts a different light on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin's decision to take the unusual move Thursday of calling MKs individually
and urging them to quiet down the Temple Mount discussion.
It also reflects on Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's (Yisrael Beytenu) public condemnation of "irresponsible politicians" visiting the Temple Mount on Thursday, in which he called such visits "stupidity" and a search for cheap publicity.
Liberman is the only one able to replace Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich of his own party who has come in for heat over his inability to prevent Arab terrorism in the capital, but his statement indicates he has little intention of doing so. Aharonovich on Wednesday said following the latest terror attack it likely isn't the last
On the Jordanian front, Netanyahu has released a statement since the Wednesday recall of the ambassador vowing to keep the discriminatory status quo on the Temple Mount, and on Thursday called Jordanian King Abdullah II
and promised to him that he would not allow Jewish prayer at the site.
Created on Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:39
The former Jordanian MP, Sheik Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Zant, made the comments in an interview which aired on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV on September 7 and in which he accused Jews of “cannibalism”.
The interview was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“One could go on forever about the deceptiveness of the Jews. They are liars. They allow cannibalism, and the eating of human flesh. Check their Talmud and religious sources. On their religious holidays, if they cannot find a Muslim to slaughter, and use drops of his blood to knead the matzos they eat, they slaughter a Christian in order to take drops of his blood, and mix it into the matzos that they eat on that holiday,” claimed Abu Zant.
This is certainly not the first time that Muslims have used the “matzah blood libel”, as has been documented by MEMRI several times.
In July, top Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan claimed in a television interview
that Israelis kill children and linked this to the blood libel, which originated in 1144 with the fabricated story of William of Norwich, England and is continuously used by Arabs.
Created on Sunday, 21 September 2014 18:04
Jordan arrested a senior member of the country's Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday on charges of "incitement" against the authorities, AFP reported.
Mohamed Said Bakr, a member of the Brotherhood's consultative council, was detained for 15 days by prosecutors after criticizing the government at an event marking the end of the conflict in Gaza, a judicial source was quoted as having said.
The Jordanian Brotherhood's political wing, the Islamic Action Front, condemned the arrest.
"It is unacceptable that clerics and activists should be arrested on the basis of positions they expressed," said IAF Secretary General Mohamed al-Zayoud on the party's website, according to AFP.
Zayoud called for the "immediate release" of Bakr, saying that "stable regimes would not be threatened by a speech given at a festival or expressing an opinion".
At the event in Amman on Friday, Bakr used insulting terms to describe Jordan's leaders, and accused the government of being "subject to the United States".
He also congratulated Gazans for their "victory" against Israel and said he was "waiting for and hoping to celebrate the victory of Jordan and the victory of Jordanian men and the victory of the Jordanian army, while we are on the longest frontlines" with Israel".
The group also objects to Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel and has often organized protests calling for its cancellation.
In 2012, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood sharply criticized
the naming of a new ambassador to Israel, saying the move was “an act of provocation towards Jordanians.”
Created on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 07:51
Israel on Wednesday dismantled a newly erected wooden access ramp to Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound that would have increased access for non-Muslims but which angered Jordan, according to AFP.
The half-built structure was erected by Israel in the midst of the Gaza conflict in early August, triggering outrage from the Jordanian government, which oversees Muslim sites in Jerusalem.
It ran alongside a bigger wooden structure - the Rambam (Mughrabi) ramp - that leads from the Western Wall plaza up to the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem's Old City. The ramp is the only access to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims, including Jews - an arrangement which has angered many Jewish groups given the fact that the site is the holiest place in Judaism.
Apart from only being allowed one access point (compared to several for Muslims), Jews are also controversially forbidden from praying or conducting any forms of worship on the Temple Mount in an attempt to appease Muslim leaders who have regularly threatened violence if Jews are granted the freedom to worship there. Despite several court rulings stating such practices are illegal and discriminatory, Israeli police and Waqf authorities continue to enforce the prohibition on Jewish worship, with those who disobey facing arrest.
Jewish groups are also sometimes harassed by Islamists on the Mount, which today is the site of several Islamic mosques and shrines built atop the ruins of the Jewish Temples.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered that the new structure be removed
, saying its construction was "illegal" and had never received the proper authorization, a government source said.
But a senior Israeli official said that the construction of the temporary bridge was done by local officials, and was known to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, but not the Jordanian Waqf Muslim Authority - and without the Jordanian government's approval.
When the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) learned of the establishment of the temporary bridge - from protest from the Jordanian government and royal family - it began investigating the legal ramifications of the issue with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Western Wall (Kotel) management.
That move was hailed by Jordan and by Wednesday afternoon most of the new ramp had been taken down, the AFP correspondent said.
The ramp's construction is a politically charged issue because each side claims authority over it. Israel argues that because the ramp is located outside the Temple Mount compound, it should oversee the construction; Jordan insists that since the ramp leads to the Mount, it should manage or at least be consulted over any new construction plans.
The Jordanian Waqf has had de facto rule of the Mount since the 1967 Six-Day War, and jealously guards its control over the Temple Mount and its activities. As such, Amman has threatened action several times over what the Waqf and other groups claim is the "Judaization" of Judaism's holiest site.
The Israeli government has traditionally sought to acquiesce to Jordanian demands over the Temple Mount, as it considers the Hashemite kingdom a key regional ally.
Previously, Jordan has threatened to revoke
its 1994 peace treaty with Israel over a historic debate in the Knesset about providing religious freedoms and prayer rights for Jews on the site.
Created on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 11:59
Jordan has deployed massive army forces on its Iraqi border Friday, in yet another sign of heightening tension as the war in Iraq threatens to spill over into a full-fledged regional clash.
The Jordanian army has placed tanks, army vehicles, missile launchers and soldiers throughout the length of its Iraqi border reports Yedioth Aharonoth citing the Arab news source Asharq Al-Aswat.
The heavy deployment comes in an attempt to block the security threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has conquered huge portions of Iraq in a blitz military campaign that has its forces closing in on the Jordanian border.
In the Arabic report, Jordanian sources were quoted as claiming that the Iraqi army still controls the area just over the Jordanian border, but that they have already lost control over adjacent areas.
A senior Jordanian captain told the paper the army is at maximum preparedness so as to be able to get involved at a moment's notice.
Jordan has good reason to worry
; ISIS Islamists have publicly called for Jordanian King Abdullah's execution, declaring him a traitor to Islam who has joined forces with the West.
ISIS threatened to "slaughter" the "tyrant" Abdullah in a recent video, which was uploaded to YouTube. The video features a Jordanian citizen and member of the Islamist group, who is seen tearing up his passport and throwing it in a fire while vowing to launch a suicide attack inside Jordan.
Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh
wrote that ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi recently discussed expanding the group's hold on into Jordan, which shares a border with Iraq and Syria and already has a strong presence of Islamist movements.
The rising blood pressure of Jordan's military comes amid signs of the Iraqi war snowballing into a regional war.
Syrian forces conducted an airstrike on ISIS forces
in Iraq on Wednesday, in a cross border attack that raises questions about Syria being dragged into the fighting in Iraq. ISIS has already been active in the civil war in Syria for some time.
The Shi'ite nation of Iran also reportedly has sent forces into Iraq
, allegedly to consult with the Shi'ite-ruled government in facing off with the Sunni ISIS movement.
Israel on Thursday also showed signs that it could get involved in the regional flare up to help stem the advance of radical Islamists.
"The extremists currently operating in Iraq will try to challenge the stability in the entire Gulf region, first of all in Kuwait," said Liberman in a statement from his office on the meeting. "Israel could provide effective and reliable assistance to moderate Arab states who are dealing with extremists."
It should be noted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been critical of American statements
hinting at a collaboration with Iran against ISIS. Kuwait, the nation mentioned by Liberman, has shown signs of growing closer to Iran, with Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah making a historic visit to Iran
at the start of the month.
The visit was the first by a leader of Kuwait, which is an ally of the US, to Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Reportedly, the two countries signed six agreements, one of them a security agreement, during the visit.
Created on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:31
Jordan summoned Australia's charge d'affaires John Feakes after Canberra said it would no longer refer
to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as "occupied", the foreign ministry in Amman said on Monday.
"The ministry summoned the Australian charge d'affaires and informed him that the kingdom is concerned about the Australian government's decision to stop referring to east Jerusalem as 'occupied'," ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafei said in a statement.
"The Australian government's decision violates international law and resolutions that consider east Jerusalem as an integral part of all Palestinian territories occupied in 1967," Amman claimed.
Last week, Australian attorney general George Brandis sparked fury
from the Palestinian Authority (PA) by saying Canberra would not use such "judgmental language" to describe an area which was the subject of negotiations.
Israel, which has a 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, hailed the remarks as a "refreshing" acknowledgement of international law - which has never declared
Israel's presence over 1949 Armistice lines as illegal - but the PA leadership denounced them as "disgraceful and shocking", making a formal diplomatic protest and summoning Australia's diplomatic representative.
Created on Sunday, 25 May 2014 13:25
Pope Francis made an urgent plea Saturday for peace in war-torn Syria as he kicked off a three-day pilgrimage to the Middle East, AFP reports.
And he called for religious freedom to be upheld throughout a region ravaged by war and bloodshed, where a dwindling Christian population faces daily persecution.
As he walked off the plane onto a red carpet at Amman airport, his white robes flapping in the hot desert wind, he was greeted by officials and two children dressed in traditional costume who handed him bouquets of irises, the national flower of Jordan.
At a stadium in the city, where Francis will celebrate an afternoon mass, thousands of people were packing into blue and red chairs in front of a large altar, behind which hung posters of John Paul II and John XXIII, who were made saints this month.
The three-day tour, which has been billed as a "pilgrimage of prayer," will also take Francis to Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on a landmark first visit aimed at boosting ties with Muslims and Jews, as well as easing an age-old rift within Christianity.
"Lasting peace for the entire region... requires that a peaceful solution be found to the crisis in Syria, as well as a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the pope said at the royal palace, ahead of a meeting with Syrian refugees.
Syria's civil war, which began in 2011, is estimated to have claimed at least 162,000 lives and forced another 2.7 million people to flee to
neighboring countries, 450,000 of them Christians.
Jordan's King Abdullah II told Francis his "humanity and wisdom" could contribute to easing the crisis confronting Syrian refugees and the burden on host countries like Jordan.
As his white car drove through the streets towards the royal palace, well-wishers waved Jordanian and Vatican flags and held up banners welcoming him, under the watchful eye of security guards.
Later Saturday, Francis was to head to a site on the River Jordan where many believe Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. There he will hear first-hand accounts of the suffering in Syria from some of the 600,000 refugees hosted by Jordan.
"In the lions' den"
The 77-year-old pontiff also urged respect for religious freedom in a region where the Holy See called for an end to the ongoing persecution of Christians.
"Religious freedom is, in fact, a fundamental human right and I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world," he said.
Although Christians were a minority within the region, their contribution was "significant and valued," he said.
Thousands of Christians around the world are killed every year because of their faith, and persecution has become more widespread in countries torn by conflicts involving radical Islamists
, including Syria and Iraq.
Last year, the numbers of Christians killed for their faith doubled to 2,123, said a report by Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting oppressed Christians.
Ahead of his arrival in a region roiled by political and religious division, the Argentine pope said he felt like the biblical prophet Daniel heading to the lions' den.
"I feel like Daniel, but now I know that the lions don't bite," he told reporters travelling with him on his plane.
Entering Amman's main stadium on open-topped white jeep, Francis was met by raucous applause as he smiled and waved at the crowds, his white skullcap flying off in the breeze.
Babies and toddlers were passed through the crowd to be held by him for a moment and blessed, as thousands of balloons were released into the air and an Arabic pop song echoed through the stadium.
"This pope is special. He only wants to see the poor and the diseased. He is the protector of the helpless," said 77-year-old Sister Rachel, highlighting his dedication to the downtrodden.
Early on Sunday, the pope will make a short helicopter ride across the Jordan River to Bethlehem, where he will begin a two-day visit to the
Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel.
Francis said the main reason for the trip was a historic meeting in Jerusalem with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and
"to pray for peace in that land, which has suffered so much."
Created on Thursday, 24 April 2014 08:02
Jordanian air forces destroyed a number of armored vehicles on Wednesday as they crossed the border from war-torn Syria, increasing fears of the sectarian conflict spilling into new territory after more than three years of civil war.
"Royal air force jets fighters today at 10:30 am (0730 GMT) destroyed a number of vehicles that attempted to cross into Jordan from Syria," the Jordanian army said, noting the vehicles had been warned before the attack.
"The camouflaged vehicles tried to enter from an area with rugged terrain.The fighter jets fired warning shots, but they were ignored, promoting them to destroy the vehicles," it continued. "The army will not tolerate such actions."
A military official told AFP that the rogue Syrian vehicles were "three-wheeled vehicles which tried to enter the kingdom" near Ruwaished, in northern Jordan.
According to Al-Arabiya, this is not the first border-related clash between Jordan and Syria. Over the past several months, Jordan's border guards arrested several refugees fleeing the war-torn country and seeking new life in the Hashemite kingdom.
Damascus, meanwhile, frequently accuses Jordan of assisting rebel forces - which Amman denies.
Created on Sunday, 23 March 2014 14:20
Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Saturday hit out at those on the Israeli right who say that a Palestinian state already exists and that it is located in Jordan, Army Radio reported, citing an interview the King gave to the Al-Hayat newspaper.
The King said that anyone who thinks that Jordan is Palestine is living in an illusion.
"The Israeli extremists are misleading when they say that the Palestinian lands should be emptied and that the Palestinians should be exiled to Jordan," he told the newspaper.
“Over the years, since the signing of the peace treaty with Israel, Jordan has adhered to attitudes and policies that support the Palestinian people and their continued existence in a country of their own,” said King Abdullah.
There have been many calls on Jordan to accept the so-called “Palestinian refugees”, considering that the areas liberated by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War were under Jordanian control.
More importantly, since a majority of Jordanians - which was established in 1947 on 77% of the British Mandate of Palestine - are Palestinian Arabs (some 70%), some have suggested the country should rightfully serve as a Palestinian state.
This idea has been supported by many Israeli nationalists, one example being former MK Aryeh Eldad, who has been advocating for this
The Hashemite Kingdom, however, has rejected these calls. Just last month, King Abdullah told the Jordanian parliament
that “Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine and nothing but that, not in the past or the future.”
As peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have continued, there has been growing concern
in Jordan over U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposed framework agreement and what will be its effect on Jordan.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, recently reiterated
that Jordan will not be an "alternative home for anybody."
Created on Friday, 28 February 2014 18:41
Jordan’s King Abdullah II rejected on Sunday the notion that his country was an "alternative homeland" for Palestinian Arabs, the state news agency Petra reports.
“Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine and nothing but that, not in the past or the future," King Abdullah was quoted as having said in a meeting with the Prime Minister, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Lower House.
"We know how this issue has been surfacing since 15 years, or even more, where things start in the spring by the same group, who tense the Jordanian society, and by the summer, people feel scared; a thing that makes me reassure them by a speech or a press interview, but this year, unfortunately, the talk about the so-called alternative homeland stated early," he said.
“There are more important issues to focus on, especially with regards to political and economic reform. What we should do is to work as a team until we work out our internal issues," added the King.
"This, God's willing, will be the last time we talk about this subject, and I have said it more than once, but what is required now is everyone's support in this issue," he noted, according to Petra.
There have been many calls on Jordan to accept the so-called “Palestinian refugees”, considering that the areas liberated by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War were under Jordanian control.
More importantly, since a majority of Jordanians - which was established in 1947 on 77% of the British Mandate of Palestine - are Palestinian Arabs (some 70%), some have suggested the country should rightfully serve as a Palestinian state.
The Hashemite Kingdom, however, has rejected these calls. King Abdullah’s latest remarks come amid growing concern
in Jordan over U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposed framework agreement and what will be its effect on Jordan.
One of King Abdullah's closest advisors recently demanded a Jordanian presence
in talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), explaining that “Jordan should join the negotiating table immediately - since it is bound to be the one paying the price of the Israeli and American positions."
King Abdullah and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently met in Amman
, where they discussed the ongoing negotiations.
The 1,200 protesters affiliated with Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, who demonstrated against Kerry’s peace framework, also burned the Israeli flag and demanded that King Abdullah “revoke the peace treaty with the Zionists.”
Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, recently reiterated
that Jordan will not be an "alternative home for anybody."
Created on Friday, 21 February 2014 17:12
Jordan is turning to Israel for its natural gas supplies, according to Al-Ahram, after Egyptian pipelines have become unreliable.
Noble Energy, the United States based company that runs the Tamar natural gas field off the coast of Israel, signed a $771 million deal with Jordanian gas suppliers on Wednesday. The Arab Potash company and the Jordan Bromine company will receive the supply over a 15-year period.
Projected revenues from the deal are expected to be high - at least $500 million, according to the most recent reports.
"The supply will start in the coming two years. The project will reduce the total production cost for Arab Potash by $357 million and for Jordan Bromine by $7.5 million in the first stage of the project," Arab Potash chairman Jamal Sarairah stated to Arabic-language newspaper Al-Ghad.
Jordan relied heavily on Egypt's gas pipeline for its energy supply until now, despite ongoing political instability in Cairo.
The gas pipeline in Egypt has been attacked more than a dozen times since the revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011; constant terror attacks in the Sinai have only escalated
since the Egyptian army ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.
Earlier this month, Jordanian officials said the disruptions in gas supplies cost Amman at least $1 million per day. According to the Egyptian Cabinet Information Centre (IDSC), Egypt’s natural gas production shrank in December 2013 to 3.3 million tons - down 11.8 percent from December 2012.
"We are aware of the situation in Egypt and they [Egyptians] are aware of our situation in Jordan,” Jordan Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour during a meeting with an Egyptian delegation in Amman, according to Al-Ahram. “Egypt is to begin gas mega-projects and Jordan has already commenced implementing a natural gas terminal that is expected to be completed by the end of this year to import and store liquefied gas. Egypt then can export its surplus gas from Jordan."
Israel's natural gas pipeline may also bring other international deals. AFP noted Tuesday that ongoing peace talks in Cyprus, if successful, could lead to an energy deal
between Israel and Turkey.
Created on Monday, 17 February 2014 09:23
It is a pity the US State Department chooses to focus on the remarks of Israeli Ministers, such as the private aside of the Minister of Defence labelling US Secretary of State John Kerry as being delusional and messianic - rather than concentrating on PLO Chairman Abbas's very public remarks that go to the heart of the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict:
"Israel's problem is that the Palestinians know more than the Israelis about history and geography. We talk about what we know"
Is Abbas correct in his contention or has he become a victim of his own propaganda?
The answer depends on how one views Abbas's following statement to the United Nations on 26 September 2013:
"However, as representatives of the Palestinian people, we have long been aware of our responsibilities towards our people and had the necessary courage to accept a two-State solution: Palestine and Israel on the borders of 4 June 1967, establishing a Palestinian State on 22% of the land of 'historic Palestine'."
Are the 'West Bank' and Gaza in fact 22% of 'historic Palestine' or do they comprise only 5% of 'historic Palestine'?
The answer to that question first involves an answer to this question:
"Is Jordan 78% of 'historic Palestine' - as the PLO Charter claims - or is Israel 78% of 'historic Palestine' - as Abbas suggested at the United Nations?
Resolution of the conflict will stand a far greater chance of success - and be more enduring - if Jews and Arabs can first reach a consensus in answering this fundamental question.
That is a challenge that should excite Kerry as he seeks to find a way through the complexities of a conflict whose solution has eluded so many eminent people, organisations and Committees before him - including those appointed by both the League of Nations and the United Nations.
Agreement that Jordan comprises 78% of historic Palestine would greatly enlarge the territorial field within which the Jewish-Arab conflict can be resolved - making the conflict much easier to settle.
Jordan's inclusion could materially advance the prospects for the creation of a new Arab state between Israel and Jordan - the subject of the current negotiations - or open up other alternative solutions to end the conflict if they fail - which seems destined to happen.
Kerry needs to urgently determine if there is any consensus between Israel, the PLO and the Arab League on the history and geography of "Palestine".
History books and atlases can be used to resolve any disagreements - supported by eminent historians and geographers well qualified to express their opinions.
To achieve this end result Kerry could instruct his State Department to prepare a questionnaire for Israel, the PLO and the Arab League to complete by a specified date.
To ensure the process is fair and transparent - Kerry could recommend a panel be constituted comprising Kerry as Chairman and six history and geography experts - three appointed by Israel and three by the PLO and the Arab League - with Kerry holding a casting vote should the experts be equally divided.
The questionnaire could possibly include these questions:
When was "Palestine" first so named and by whom?
Was the name of "Palestine" prior to its change "Eretz Yisrael"?
When was "Eretz Yisrael" so named and by whom?
Is Israel 78% of "Palestine" or only 17% of "Palestine"?
Is Jordan 78% of "Palestine" or does it form no part of "Palestine"?
Is the "West Bank" 22% of "Palestine" or 4% of "Palestine"?
When was the "West Bank" first so named and by whom?
Was the name of the "West Bank" prior to its change "Judea and Samaria"?
When was "Judea and Samaria" so named and by whom?
When was "Jordan" first so named and by whom?
When were "Palestine's borders" first defined and where were they located?
Did the Mandate for Palestine include what is today called Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza?
Were the West Bank and Transjordan unified into a single territorial unit between 1950-1967?
Where was the border between Israel and Jordan immediately prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Six Day War?
What date did the Arab residents of the 'West Bank' become Jordanian citizens and on what date was their Jordanian citizenship terminated?
What 'settlements' were established by Jews in the 'West Bank' prior to 1948?
Who was the last sovereign power to legally occupy the 'West Bank' and for what period did such occupation last?
On what date and in what part of 'Palestine' were the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine relating to the reconstitution of the Jewish national Home in Palestine postponed or withheld?
The questionnaire would seek to flesh out the extent to which Jewish and Arab historic and geographic narratives coincide - with the objective of eventually reaching a joint consensus in answering the questions posed.
The questionnaire should be answered by Israel, the PLO and the Arab League before Kerry presents Israel and the PLO with his proposed framework agreement for peace.
If the parties cannot first agree on the territory within which the Jewish-Arab conflict is to be resolved - how can meaningful and serious discussions on Kerry's framework agreement even be contemplated or commenced?
Kerry needs to focus on this issue - rather than concerning himself with negative comments affecting him personally. Abbas's claimed knowledge of history and geography needs to be tested.
The result could be Kerry's key to ending the current deadlock and resolving the conflict.
David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country.
Created on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 13:36
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas briefed Jordanian King Abdullah II Wednesday on Middle East peace negotiations, according to AFP, after US Secretary of State John Kerry failed to find a framework deal for final talks.
"The meeting with his majesty focused on exchanging views about unifying the Jordanian-Palestinian position on... Kerry's initiative," the palace quoted Abbas as saying after a meeting with the king, whose country has a peace treaty with Israel.
"Kerry is still providing ideas, which we are discussing. He will come again soon. We continue to meet with his aides until ideas mature and before he comes up with a framework for the agreement," Abbas added, without elaborating.
Kerry left the region on Monday following four days of intense meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders, during which he failed to broker agreement on a framework to guide the talks forward.
Israeli media say Kerry, who kicked-started nine months of direct peace negotiations in July after a three-year hiatus, is due back in the region next week.
The news follows reports Friday that one of King Abdullah II's closest advisors has demanded a Jordanian presence in talks.
"Jordan needs to be present and involved in all future negotiations," stated former Prime Minister Marouf al-Bahit. He is currently the deputy head of the King's Council, an advisory board closest to the monarch.
"It is unthinkable that Jordan should sit on the side, as an observer. Jordan should join the negotiating table immediately - since it is bound to be the one paying the price of the Israeli and American positions."
Created on Saturday, 07 December 2013 17:57
The UN General Assembly on Friday elected Jordan to the Security Council seat that Saudi Arabia rejected in an unprecedented act, reports The Associated Press.
Jordan was elected to the two-year term on the council with 179 "yes" votes in the 193-member General Assembly, according to the report.
Jordan was selected by Arab countries and endorsed by Asian nations.
Saudi Arabia stunned the diplomatic world by rejecting the Security Council seat on October 17, less than 24 hours after it was elected.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry accused the Security Council at the time of failing to end the Syrian and Israeli-Arab conflicts and to convene a conference on creating a Mideast zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
One of the reasons for the Saudi decision to reject the Security Council seat may have been to send a message to the United States. Relations between Washington and Riyadh have reportedly been strained since the U.S. backed away from military action against Assad over recent alleged chemical weapons attacks.
Most recently, Saudi Arabia has voiced criticism over the deal reached between Iran and the West over its nuclear program.
A senior advisor to the Saudi royal family said after the deal was signed that his country was deceived by its American ally in the agreements and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of the tension between the Saudis and the Americans and called Saudi King Abdullah last month, perhaps signaling a shift towards alignment with the Russians.
Jordan will join four other newcomers - Chad, Nigeria, Lithuania and Chile - to the Security Council on January 1.
After it rejected the Security Council seat, Saudi Arabia won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, being one of several countries with questionable human rights records to win seats in this body.
Created on Thursday, 27 June 2013 06:49
Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority could “explode” if final status talks fail, and that the Syrian civil war is rapidly spiraling out of control into a regional conflict.
Kerry is set to arrive Wednesday from Kuwait, where he has been discussing the prospects of financial aid for the PA, among other issues.
But Abdullah said that unless final status talks are launched quickly, it is more likely the region will see another round of Arab Spring violence – this time started by the Palestinian Authority.
The Hashemite monarch added that the Syrian civil war across his northern border could also ignite a regional war unless the international community is able to convene peace talks soon, according to the London-based A-sharq al-Awsat newspaper.
“It has become clear to all that the Syrian crisis may extend from being a civil war to a regional and sectarian conflict...the extent of which is unknown,” the king warned in the interview.
“It is time for a more serious Arab and international coordination to stop the deterioration of the Syrian crisis. The situation cannot wait any longer,” he added.
Jordan has absorbed more than half a million Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations. Most are being housed in U.N.-supplied tent cities in the country’s northern Mafraq sector, near the Syrian border.
At least 1.5 million Syrian citizens have fled the country, and more than two million others are homeless and displaced within the country.
Created on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 06:33
The leader of the world's Anglicans is to make a five-day visit to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, his office said in a statement.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, was to meet with religious leaders, visit holy sites and see community projects, said Lambeth Palace, according to the AFP news agency.
It will be his first visit to Israel since his enthronement in March as leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans.
The trip comes after Welby visited Rome on June 14 and met with Pope Francis for the first time, amid efforts to reconcile Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
"Archbishop Justin is making this trip early in his ministry because of the significance of the region, the importance of the relationships that his office has there, and because he is keenly aware of the particular pressures on the region at the moment -- not least the devastating conflict in Syria, and its impact more widely," Lambeth Palace said in a statement, according to AFP.
In Jerusalem, he will visit the Western Wall, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Temple Mount.
He will also meet with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, patriarchs and church leaders.
He will be staying with Suheil Dawani, the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem, who will accompany him on all his visits there.
In Cairo, Welby will meet Pope Tawadros II, the head of Egypt's Coptic Church, and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the top Sunni Muslim authority, according to AFP,
Created on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 07:45
Armed clashes between students killed three people and hurt 25 others at a university campus in the restive Jordanian city of Maan on Monday, the kingdom's interior minister said.
"Three people died and 25 were injured the fight at the King Hussein bin Talal University's campus in Maan," in southern Jordan, Hussein Majali told AFP.
"Police fired tear gas, made 22 arrests and seized four weapons, including two automatic ones. One of the injured was in a bad condition after he was shot in the stomach."
Majali said a "former convict who once shot at a police station" was involved in the clashes.
"Police, who are still searching for the suspect, threw a security cordon around the university after evacuating people. Security was restored after these criminal acts."
The reasons behind the gun battle were unclear, but an activist said it was related to "tribal problems".
"It wasn't the first brawl over tribal problems. I think the shootout will have repercussions for the entire city of Maan," said Fakher Daass of Thabahtuna reformist movement, according to AFP.
Violence occurs almost frequently at Jordanian universities, and frequently spreads beyond campus grounds.
Created on Friday, 19 April 2013 13:27
Jordan’s Islamist opposition on Friday denounced the presence of US troops in the kingdom due to deteriorating security in neighboring Syria, urging a rethink of the deployment.
“The government must review its decision to authorize the deployment of foreign troops on Jordanian soil,” the Islamic Action Front, political arm of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel revealed on Wednesday that some 150 U.S. military specialists have been deployed in Jordan since last year and that he had ordered a U.S. Army headquarters team to bolster the mission, bringing the total American presence to more than 200 troops.
“These personnel will continue to work alongside Jordanian Armed Forces to improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios,” said Hagel.
The U.S. troops were deployed to Jordan to help secure chemical weapons amid fears they could fall into the hands of Islamist militants fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and prepare for a possible spillover from Syria.
Assad, whose regime has been battling rebels trying to oust him since March 2011, warned in an interview Wednesday with Syrian television that the war in his country could spread to Jordan which he said was allowing rebels free movement.
“The Islamic Action Front... categorically refuses the presence of foreign troops in Jordan,” the statement said, stressing that Jordan’s armed forces were capable of defending the nation.
Jordanian Information Minister Mohammad Momani told AFP on Wednesday that the U.S. deployment was “to boost the Jordanian armed forces in light of the deteriorating situation in Syria.”
But the army denied this and said in a statement on Thursday: “The 200 U.S. troops have nothing to do with Syria’s situation. They are the first of the groups that will take part of the annual Eager Lion military exercise, in which 15 countries are participating.”
“The Jordan Armed Forces have the required capabilities to defend Jordan’s borders, stability and security against any threat,” it added, saying the drill will take place “in the coming weeks.”
Created on Sunday, 14 April 2013 21:11
Jordanian police said on Sunday they found the burned body of a pregnant woman whose throat had been slit and belly cut open showing her four-month-old fetus, in an apparent “honor killing”.
“We found the body of the woman at dawn in Ruseifeh (east of Amman). Her throat was slit in a hideous way. The body was burned after the murder,” a police spokesman said.
“We believe it was an honor crime. The belly of the woman, who was in her twenties, was cut open and we could see her four-month-old unborn child, who was dead too. Investigations are still under way.”
Between 15 and 20 women die in so-called “honor” murders each year in the Arab kingdom, despite government efforts to curb such crimes.
Murder is punishable by death in Jordan, but in “honor killings” courts can commute or reduce sentences, particularly if the victim’s family asks for leniency.
Created on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 07:32
Jordan's King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmud Abbas signed an agreement on Sunday confirming their "common goal to defending" Jerusalem and their opposition to efforts to “Judaize” the eternal capital of Israel.
Palestinian Authority Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash said the agreement confirmed Jordan’s role as protector of the city’s holy sites and “Palestinian sovereignty over all of Palestine, including its capital East Jerusalem,” the Ma’an news agency reported.
A statement by the palace said the deal confirms Jordan's historic role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, particularly the Temple Mount, and outlines coordination between the two sides.
"In this historic agreement, Abbas reiterated that the king is the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and that he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa mosque," the statement said, according to AFP.
"It is also emphasizing the historical principles agreed by Jordan and Palestine to exert joint efforts to protect the city and holy sites from Israeli judaization attempts."
"It also reaffirms the historic principles upon which Jordan and Palestine are in agreement as regards Jerusalem and their common goal of defending Jerusalem together, especially at such critical time, when the city is facing dramatic challenges and daily illegal changes to its authenticity and original identity," it said.
"Jerusalem is currently facing major challenges and attempts to change its Arab, Muslim and Christian identity," the palace claimed, as the Arab world further attempts to strip Jerusalem of its Jewish identity.
Created on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 18:04
President Barack Obama will stop in the West Bank and Jordan on his trip to the Middle East in the coming months on a trip which will also include his first visit as U.S. leader to Israel, the White House said Tuesday.
Officials had earlier disclosed Obama would visit Israel this Spring and the White House later confirmed that the trip would also involve travel to Jordan and the Palestinian territories.
Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, discussed the matter in a telephone call on Jan. 28, the official said.
“The start of the president’s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria,” the official said.
“Additional details about the trip - including the dates of travel - will be released at a later time.”
Created on Monday, 04 February 2013 11:26
The armies of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan are all on high alert, a report in a Lebanese newspaper said Sunday. The report in Ad-Diar said that the alerts were due to Israel's attack on a Syrian missile transport and, according to Syrian claims, an attack on a sensitive Syrian military installation.
The report said that the Syrian army has instructed its units to break up into smaller groups, “similar to what Hizbullah has done in south Lebanon.” The strategy is designed to protect troops in the wake of another possible Israeli attack, the report said.
The report added that Syrian troops had joined Hizbullah terrorists in several areas of south Lebanon. According to the report, the Syrian and Hizbullah forces were stationed very close to the Israeli border, in the area of Har Dov (also known as “Sheba Farms”). The Lebanese and Jordanian armies are also on high alert over the possibility of a clash between Israel and Syria in the area.
Unconfirmed Lebanese reports said that Israeli warplanes had been seen over Lebanon earlier Sunday.
Syria has threatened to retaliate against Israel for the attack. Israel has not commented on the attack, and has not officially confirmed its involvement, although Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier Sunday hinted at the possibility that Israel did carry out the attack.
Created on Sunday, 25 November 2012 21:04
Iran is trying to close surround Israel on three sides with its “axis of evil” by offering free oil to Jordan.
Iran and Syria, through its Hizbullah ally, threatens Israel on the northern border, and the Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood alliance south of the border allowed massive rocket and missile attacks on Israel until the ceasefire last week after Operation Pillar of Defense.
Festering economic problems, a growing Palestinian Arab population and paralleled opposition to the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty have made the kingdom ripe for Iran to step in, which it did last week.
“My country is ready to supply the kingdom with free oil and energy for the next 30 years, in return for trade deals and agreements regarding religious tourism between the two countries,” Iranian Ambassador to Jordan Mustafa Zadeh said.
“We have one common enemy and everybody knows that,” the senior Iranian official added, which was a clear reference to the United States and Israel, according to an Al Hayat article translated and published by Al Monitor.
Jordan is burdened with a $21 billion deficit, but the temptation of free oil was termed a “big risk” by several Jordanian sources.
Spokesman for the Jordanian government Minister Samih al-Maaytah told Al-Hayat that “Jordan will study any proposal it receives as it deals positively with all nations,” but high-level sources n Amman expressed doubts.
“Tehran is seeking things beyond trade deals and religious tourism. However, Jordan will not abandon its historic alliances, especially with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,” the sources said.
Created on Friday, 16 November 2012 08:19
Sharp price hikes in Jordan have fanned the flames of anger and sparked riots that the Muslim Brotherhood warns could be the beginning of another Arab Spring revolution across the river from Israel’s eastern border.
Jordan announced on Tuesday it would raise fuel prices, including a 53 percent hike on cooking gas, sparking nationwide protests in which two policemen were lightly wounded and a courthouse torched, police and state television said.
"Trade and Industry Minister Hatem al-Halwani decided to adjust the price of fuel, raising the cost of household gas from 6.5 dinars to 10 dinars per cylinder," a 53 percent rise, state TV said, according to AFP.
The hike was to help reduce a massive government deficit, which Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur told the television is 3.5 billion dinars (around $5 billion) this year.
"The financial situation in the country has been greatly affected by the Arab Spring... The economic situation is very precarious," he said.
"The decision to re-examine fuel subsidies needed to be taken two years ago," Nsur added, saying the government would subsidize low-income families to help with the higher prices.
More than 2,000 people demonstrated in Amman against the price hike, chanting "Nsur out," and "long live the great people of Jordan," holding banners that read "revolution of the hungry," and "is this in our interest?"
In the northern city of Irbid, around 1,000 people protested, and police said two anti-riot policemen were shot and lightly wounded.
Several hundred people demonstrated elsewhere, including in Karak, where police said a courthouse was torched, and also in the other southern cities of Tafileh and Maan.
"This decision is a gamble that provokes the people and challenges them. It's the most dangerous decision in 10 years," Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, told AFP.
"The people are already poor and crushed. If Jordan had elected governments that fight corruption, then we could raise prices."
Jordanians have been staging street protests to demand reform since last year, and more demonstrations are expected following the fuel price hike, which comes ahead of a January 23 general election, seen as key to introducing much-needed change.
The kingdom, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, is struggling to find alternatives to unstable Egyptian gas supplies, which normally cover 80 percent of the kingdom's power production.
Since 2011, the pipeline supplying gas from Egypt to both Israel and Jordan has been attacked 14 times.
Created on Saturday, 03 November 2012 08:17
Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday condemned Halloween celebrations held in an Amman cafe as “Satanic” and homosexual, while a newspaper reported acts of vandalism at the party.
“We watched with disgust and shame last night (Friday) homosexual and Satanic rituals in an Amman cafe,” the Brotherhood said in a statement on its website.
“This presents a challenge to the values of the Jordanian people and their Arab and Muslim identity, as well as a violation of religious laws,” it added.
The group demanded that those who organized the party be tried for the “grotesque act,” decrying that such events are allowed to go ahead when the people are “stricken by poverty and amid political crises” in Jordan.
Al-Ghad newspaper, meanwhile, reported that violence broke out when “angry youths tried to prevent the Halloween celebrations from taking place” in the cafe in Amman.
It said they tried to storm the cafe, throwing stones and setting fire to property, causing a traffic jam until early Saturday.
Poverty levels are running at 25 percent in the desert kingdom, whose capital Amman is the most expensive city in the Arab world, according to several independent studies.
Created on Sunday, 21 October 2012 22:56
Jordan has foiled a “terrorist plot” and arrested 11 Al-Qaeda suspects who planned to carry out suicide attacks against shopping malls and diplomats, Petra news agency reported on Sunday.
“The General Intelligence Department has foiled a terrorist plot against national security, by an 11-member terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda’s ideology,” it said.
The suspects were planning to launch a wave of attacks targeting shopping malls, diplomatic missions, hotels and other key sites using explosives, car bombs, machineguns and mortars, the state news agency said.
They were arrested before they could carry out their plot, it said, adding that the intelligence services had been alerted to the plot and was monitoring the suspects’ moves.
A judicial source told AFP that the case had been referred to the prosecutor of the state security court -- a military tribunal -- who has begun questioning “11 Jordanian nationals from Salafist movements.”
“They will face two charges: conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts and possession of explosives,” said the source who declined to be named. The charges carry the death penalty.
Petra also published pictures of the 11 suspects.
Information Minister Samih Maayatah told a news conference, meanwhile, that the 11 suspects had entered Jordan from neighboring Syria.
“he prisoners came across the border from Syria and were caught red-handed,” he said, adding that authorities seized weapons and maps showing the locations of the sites they planned to attack.
Created on Saturday, 22 September 2012 19:16
U.S. officials recently warned Israel that Egypt and Jordan could annul their peace treaties with the Jewish State if it carries out a preemptive strike against Iran, AFP reported on Thursday based on a report in the Yediot Achronot daily newspaper.
Quoting a high-level Israeli official, the newspaper said Washington had warned the Jewish state that Arab leaders would not be able to control an angry public backlash if Israel were to mount an attack on Iran.
The newspaper said the U.S. official pointed to the violent response in several Middle Eastern countries to a film insulting Islam, saying, “Today the Arab leaders do not control their peoples, the streets control the leaders.
“An Israeli strike is just what the Iranians need. The entire Arab and Muslim street will take to the streets to demonstrate," the official said.
“What happened with the film against Mohammed is just a preview of what will happen in case of an Israeli strike,” he said.
The official said that Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab countries that have signed peace treaties with Israel, would face enormous pressure to annul the accords if Iran's nuclear facilities were attacked.
Meanwhile on Thursday, the United States sternly warned Iran that “time is running out” for its unsupervised nuclear program in what may be thinly-veiled support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has badgered President Barack Obama to set a “red line” for Iran.
"We will not engage in an endless process of negotiations that fail to produce any results. We must therefore remain clear and united in seeking resolution of the international community's concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program. Time is wasting," Ambassador Rice said told a United Nations Security Council meeting on nuclear sanctions against Iran.
She added, "Iran's approach remains to deny, to deceive and distract.”
Rice’s statement follows a month-long campaign by Prime Minister Netanyahu to keep the Iranian nuclear threat in the headlines, resulting in an indirect confrontation between him and President Obama over “red lines” and deadlines, which the president has refused to set.
Earlier this week Rice joined the list of American officials who have rejected Netanyahu’s request that the U.S. set a clear “red line” for Iran’s nuclear program.
“We’ve been very clear. The United States is not interested and is not pursuing a policy of containment. President Obama has been very plain: We will keep all options on the table, including the military option as necessary, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Rice told CNN.
“We share a grave concern about Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon,” she added. “We are determined to prevent that from happening. President Obama has been absolutely clear, and on this there's absolutely no daylight between the United States and Israel that we will do what it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Rice added, “We are not at that stage yet. They do not have a nuclear weapon. Our shared intelligence assessment is that there’s still considerable time and space before they will have a nuclear weapon should they make the decision to go for that.”
She said that steps the United States and other countries are taking to pressure Iran are working.
Rice’s harsh words on Thursday also come exactly a week before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to deliver what has become an annual address to the opening post-summer session of the UN General Assembly.
Created on Thursday, 19 July 2012 22:26
King Abdullah II of Jordan warned Wednesday that the situation in Syria is spinning out of control and in a worst case scenario al-Qaeda could obtain some of the regime’s chemical weapons.
“Our information is that there is a presence of al-Qaeda in certain regions inside Syria, and has been there for a while,” he told CNN.
“And, again, one of the worst case scenarios as we are obviously trying to look for a political solution would be if some of those chemical stockpiles were to fall into unfriendly hands,” he warned.
The Jordanian king said that while the bomb attack that killed core members of the Syrian regime was a "tremendous blow" to President Bashar al-Assad, it would not yet lead to the downfall of the regime
A bomb attack in Damascus on Wednesday killed key Syrian officials, including Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and General Hassan Turkmani, head of the regime's crisis cell on the uprising.
“Definitely this shows some cracks in the system, but again, I don’t think we should jump to any conclusion writing the regime off in the near future,” he said.
“I think as we continue to pursue the political option, the realities on the ground may have overtaken us. Therefore I think the clock is ticking,” he said.
“I think we should continue to give politics its due. But if we haven’t already passed that window, I think we’re getting very close to it.”
“If it breaks down, if civil order breaks down to the point of no return, then it will take years to fix Syria. And I have a feeling we're seeing signs of that over the past three weeks,” he warned.
“The only people that can bring us back from that brink are obviously the president and the regime. And I believe this is the last chance that they have,” he added.
The United States also expressed concern regarding Assad's chemical stockpile, warning that any official involved in its use would face the consequences.
Created on Sunday, 08 July 2012 16:33
A Jordanian Member of Parliament hurled his shoe at a former MP and then drew his handgun, in the course of a televised debate between the two.
The altercation took place when MP Mohammed al-Shawabka faced off against former MP Mansour Sayf al-Din Murad, who identifies openly with Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. Murad is the only Jordanian politician who has met Assad after the rebellion against his regime began last year, and he continues to head delegations that visit Damascus.
In the televised segment, Shawabka called Murad "a Syrian agent," accused him of spreading rumors against Jordan and said he was "despicable."
Murad retorted by saying Shawabka is "an agent of the Mossad," accusing him of "buying people with money" and added "may your father be cursed" for good measure.
This was too much for Shawabka, who threw a shoe at Murad and then pulled out his handgun and began advancing toward Murad. The anchor managed to keep the two from hurting each other, but Murad filed a police complaint against Shawabka for attempted murder.
Created on Sunday, 10 June 2012 20:59
Yasser Arafat’s former financial adviser, who was recently found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced in absentia, has revealed that Fatah has a secret bank account in Jordan with a balance of $39 million.
Mohammed Rashid, who was the late Palestinian leader’s “moneyman,” said he has “all the necessary documents” to prove the existence of the account, the Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday.
The secret bank account, according to Rashid, has only been operated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and two of his associates who have been authorized by Fatah, Abbas’ nationalist political faction.
Rashid said that Abbas has long denied the existence of such a bank account for Fatah.
“According to my documents, $13 million came for [sic] the U.S., while the remaining sum came from friendly Arab countries,” Rashid told the Post.
He also said that the original sum of the concealed account was $44 million, but dropped after the Fatah leadership spent $5 million on the party’s sixth annual conference in 2009.
The revelations are thought to be part of an ongoing war between Rashid and Abbas. Rashid was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison and fined $15 million for siphoning off millions of dollars in public funds. He and two associates were convicted of taking a total of $33.5 million from the foreign donor-financed Palestinian Investment Fund.
Described by analysts as the biggest case against corruption that has festered during the Palestinian Authority’s 20-year history, Rashid has long-accused Abbas of leading a witch-hunt against his predecessor’s old allies.
He has now challenged Abbas to deny the existence of the secret Fatah account, “saying he would then reveal the identity of the two associates and the name of the bank and the Arab countries that deposited the money,” the Post reported.
Rashid, an Iraqi Kurd who worked alongside Arafat for more than a decade, has denied wrongdoing. He left the Palestinian territories after Arafat’s death in November 2004 and has rarely been seen since.
Meanwhile, the Fatah Central Committee, a body dominated by Abbas loyalists, on Saturday launched an attack, dubbing him a “criminal” and “traitor.”
The committee said in a communiqué issued in Ramallah that Rashid was “playing a central role in a new conspiracy against President Abbas, who represents the will of the Palestinian people and who has become a symbol of steadfastness in the face of pressure and plots,” the Post reported.
Earlier this year, Rashid appeared on Al Arabiya TV criticizing the Palestinian Authority for corruption.
Rashid said he was prepared to report for interrogation only before an independent commission of inquiry and not one that is controlled by Abbas.
The PA’s Anti-Corruption Commission, which issued the arrest warrant against him, is itself very corrupt, Rashid added.
He pointed out that two ministers in the Palestinian National Authority cabinet have been accused of involvement in corruption scandals and threatened to expose them, but the anti-corruption commission have not since taken measures against them.
Created on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 17:08
The Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank on Wednesday fired a Christian employee who refused to wear a scarf to cover her hair as part of uniform for female staff.
“The bank warned Vivian Salameh to cover her hair as part of the women’s uniform approved earlier this year, but she refused,” Iman Afaneh told AFP.
“Five other Christian women are working at the bank, and they are committed to wearing full uniform, including the headscarf.”
But Salameh said she “refused to wear the partial head cover because it is against my principles,” and is religious coercion.
“The bank uniform registered at the trade and industry ministry does not include wearing anything to cover my hair,” she added.
Salameh described her attire as modest and well-within the norms for business attire in Jordan, where her branch is located.
Hijab – traditional Muslim dress – is not required by law in Jordan and not all Muslims, let alone non-Muslims, choose to wear it.
Queen Raina of Jordan – frequently seen in public without a headscarf – has stressed all women should have the right to choose whether to adopt hijab.
"I am a staunch supporter of every woman’s right to wear the Hijab, just as I am a staunch supporter of every woman’s right to choose not to wear it," she told the BBC in 2010.
The Jordan-based Islamic bank is a public shareholding company which launched operations in 2010.
Created on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 06:50
The United States is leading what it described as the "largest military exercises in the Middle East in 10 years" in Jordan on Tuesday.
Eager Lion 2012 “is the largest exercise held in the region in the past ten years,” Major General Ken Tovo, head of the US Special Operations Forces, told reporters in Amman.
“Yesterday we began to apply the skills that we have developed over the last weeks in an irregular warfare scenario … They will last for approximately the coming two weeks,” he added.
“The message that I want to send through this exercise is that we have developed the right partners throughout the region and across the world … insuring that we have the ability to … meet challenges that are coming to our nations,” Tovo said.
Over 12,000 soldiers are taking part in the war games, representing 19 countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Australia.
Jordanian army operations and training chief Major General Awni Adwan said the military exercise “has been in the planning phase for the past three years.”
“No forces will be deployed north … the exercise is not connected to any real world event,” Adwan said when asked if the war games were related to the ongoing violence in Jordan’s northern neighbor Syria.
"This has nothing to do with Syria. We respect the sovereignty of Syria. There is no tension between the Syrians and us. Our objectives are clear,” Adwan said.
Israel – despite having extensive security agreements with Jordan – was not invited to participate in the exercises. Several Arab nations participating in the drill are still formally at war with the Jewish state.
Washington has granted Amman $2.4 billion in military and economic aid in the past five years, according to official figures