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Jordan United Against Terror By: Michael Mylrea
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 23, 2005

AMMAN, JORDAN---“Jordan’s most valuable resource is its stability, like a safe island in a dangerous sea,” said Mohammed Ali Almadani, Yemen’s Advisor to the Ministry of Oil and Minerals, as he looked out at a metropolitan skyline, marked by towering hotels and the green glow of minarets.  “A secure environment and economic reforms have enabled them to stay afloat despite the lack of oil and valuable minerals.” 

Sixteen floors below, Jordanian soldiers stood vigilant on top of their armored Humvees.  Their presence added a sense of security to one of prosperity as world government and business leaders met in Jordan for the World Economic Forum last summer. 

World leaders at the forum praised Jordan. As April Foley, Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, stated, Jordan deserves great credit for “building a more secure, peaceful and prosperous Arab world by 2010.”


It was a summer of great optimism for Jordan: tourists and world leaders poured in, profitable diplomatic relations with Israel strengthened, real-estate prices rose and its economy blossomed under the realm of political reform and economic stability. Last week, feelings of optimism and security were replaced with violence and anger when terrorists attacked three American hotels, killing 60 and wounding more than 100.


Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, Jordanian leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, orchestrated the attacks with hopes of dividing Jordanians.  But as the smoke cleared it became apparent that his plan had backfired.  In a public show of solidarity, 250,000 Jordanians protested against the terror attacks in the nation’s capital on Friday.


Jordanians at the protest sent a strong message to Zarqawi: terrorism is as far removed from Islam as terrorists are from being Muslims. “Islam [is] a religion of moderation and tolerance that abhors the terrorists who kill innocents in Islam's name, even as Islam is innocent of such crimes,” said Jordan’s King Abdullah II, echoing the sentiment of his people, in a statement posted on the Hashemite Kingdom’s official Web-site following the attacks.


While the Jordanian street united under an anti-terror banner of peaceful Islam, these attacks further defined Islamic extremist’s merciless agenda to establish a caliphate or Islamic state. To do this, Islamic extremists believe they need to abort moderate Arab countries -- like Jordan -- from Western influences of pluralism, democracy and globalization.


“Globalization is a threat to terrorists because it is seen as an artifact of a Western civilization in which the US is at the helm, leading economic and political reform in the Arab world,” said Audra Grant, a Middle East Analyst for the Rand Corporation and a former intelligence analyst at the US State Department in Washington. “For example, when Jordan assumed its peace agreements with Israel would realize real dividends in the form of increased tourism dollars, terrorists did everything they could to undermine this.”


Jordan’s agreement to establish diplomatic ties with Israel is exemplary of how economic opportunities can trump ideological differences in the pursuit of prosperity. Globalization has made the world smaller and opportunities greater, facilitating valuable exchanges between different cultures, people, and religions.


“However, globalization is a double edge sword,” said Jawad Abbassi, General Manager of the Arab Advisors Group, a member of the Arab Jordan Investment Bank Group. “Global economic integration and the ease of funding give terrorist organizations the ability to have cross border links and a global network.”


American intelligence officials suspect al Qaeda of exploiting an international network of money laundering that finances and recruits terrorists across the Middle East, Europe and the US. 


“Another danger of globalization is that economic reforms in most Arab countries are outpacing the political reforms, which tends to hurt large sectors of the public in the short term, making this a risky strategy for a political leader,” said Alisa Rubin Peled, Senior Lecturer at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy Interdisciplinary Center in Israel. “Islamists can gain support from populations hurt by economic reforms, giving Jordan’s King Abdullah limited room to maneuver.”


She continued, “Despite the dangers, Abdullah continues opening the economy, liberalizing and allying himself with the west.”


In fact, an emboldened King Abdullah II reinforced Jordan’s stance as a moderate Arab state.  “We will not be intimidated into altering our position, nor will we abandon our convictions or forfeit our role in the fight against terrorism in all its forms,” Abdullah wrote in a letter posted on Jordan’s official website after the attacks.  “To the contrary, every act of terrorism strengthens our resolve to adhere to our convictions, and to confront, with all means at our disposal, those who seek to undermine the security and stability of this country.”


If world leaders hope to protect their people from terror, they should support moderate Arab teachers, role models and leaders -- like King Abdullah II.  These are the moderate voices of Islam that hold the answers to defeating terror, answers that are central teachings of Islam, Christianity and Judaism -- treat your neighbor as you wish to be treated.


As globalization continues to merge nations into one interconnected free market, we all become neighbors.  In this environment, there are no “safe islands” from terror; therefore, we must stand united against terror or divided we will fall.


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Michael Mylrea is an agriculture development consultant and freelance reporter living and working in various countries in the Middle East and Africa. His work often appears in The Jerusalem Report, Inside Jerusalem, The Weekly Reporter and The Capital Times.

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