Rabbani, Mouin, The Nation
The shockingly awful Anglo-American invasion of Iraq means that Jordan is now literally situated between two wars: To the west, the increasingly bloody Israeli-Palestinian confrontation is now well into its third year. To the east, indications are that it will be at least as long before peace and stability take hold in Iraq.
This war could not have come at a worse time for Jordan. Public opinion, much of which is of Palestinian origin and is constantly bombarded with images of Israel's bloody counterinsurgency in the occupied territories, reached the boiling point well before Bush discovered Iraq. The Jordanian economy, suffering from the combined effects of UN sanctions on Iraq, the Palestinian intifada, 9/11 and the global recession, is in the doldrums. And late last year in the southern Jordanian city of Ma'an, armed confrontations between residents and security forces claimed a number of lives.
The dilemma for Jordan's young king, Abdullah II, is acute. Whereas his late father, King Hussein, opted out of the coalition that confronted Iraq in 1991, the current monarch has concluded that in the post-9/11 world one does not risk incurring Washington's wrath. But because he rules over a population that has come to detest the United States even more than it does Israel, cooperation has to be kept firmly out of the limelight. The result is that the extent of Jordan's involvement is the subject of few facts, many rumors and an equal number of official denials.
As the Jordanian government braces for further demonstrations against the war, the security forces are very much in evidence. Although demonstrations have been banned, they are growing and spreading, with more than fifty-five reported through March 23. …