In the excitement over the two political parties’ nominating conventions in the last couple weeks, a small news item has slipped through the cracks.
Jordan, our only Arab ally, has quietly started courting Hamas.
In case you don’t remember, Hamas is on the State Department’s terrorist list.
Hamas members are sent from Iran to teach Islamic extremism to Lebanese school children. Hamas members garner great appreciation in the Arab world by supplying a few blankets and supplies to disaster areas while workers from other relief groups are mysteriously killed. Hamas is the organization that won an election in Palestine and, instead of sharing power with the PLO as they were elected to do, quickly subverted the democratic process and executed a complete military takeover in Gaza.
What does Hamas mean in Jordan? Hamas is the organization that tried repeatedly to assassinate Jordan’s King Hussein, the father of the present King, among other things, by putting poison in his eye drops. Hamas is the organization that successfully embarrassed the royal family for years by waging a terrorist war against Israel by crossing the border at night, then retreating across the safety of the Jordanian border whenever pursued. Hamas was the entity that tried to take over the Jordanian government in 1969, while Syria backed them by crossing Jordan’s northern border with tanks.
There are still bullet holes in the buildings in downtown Amman from that civil war. There are still land mines under the streets of Ramtha near the old Syrian border.
And now Jordan’s King Abdullah II wants to make nice with Hamas. His Royal Highness is far from stupid. King Abdullah took his military training in England and his academic training in the U.S. He has written numerous op-ed pages for U.S. periodicals that are scholarly and also make quite a bit of sense. More importantly, the King has an instinctive street wisdom that I would compare with his namesake, King Abdullah I who singlehandedly founded Jordan as an emirate and then a country.
Abdullah has gone farther than his father ever did in backing the U.S. King Adbullah’s father, King Hussein, was the first Jordanian ruler to establish ties with the U.S. during the era of declining British world influence. King Hussein did NOT back the U.S. during Desert Storm, although he later pretended he had. During that conflict between the U.S. and Iraq, he sided with his old hunting buddy, Saddam Hussein, and when the Desert Storm was over, Jordan continued to enjoy low gas prices and deeply discounted oil from Iraq’s oil wells. King Abdullah did support the U.S. in its latest Iraqi adventure, and Jordan has become home to countless Iraqi refugees. Who knows the price the King has paid for his loyalty to American interests.
If King Abdullah now wants to strengthen ties with Jordan’s oldest hereditary enemy Hamas, you had better believe it’s in the best interests of Jordan and the Royal Family. You can be equally certain it’s not in America’s best interest.
Is George Bush listening? Or are we about to slide into a McCain presidency where once again the Palestinians are ignored as world opinion condemns the only country–us–capable of putting pressure on Israel to accept Palestinian statehood. Will McCain’s good buddy and world adviser Joe Leiberman, who is Jewish, be put in charge of our relations with the Arab world? The pundits are now saying McCain confidante Leiberman would be offered a cabinet post in a possible McCain presidency.
I say we should accept Palestinian independence quickly. Now, while the PLO is still running the show. And prop them up with as much foreign aid as necessary.
Former President Nixon is remembered for the worst ethical scandal in American history. He is also remembered for recognizing China.
President Bush will long be remembered for his war in Iraq. It’s not too late for him to also be remembered for recognizing Palestine.
[Another copy of Saad Hattar’s piece Jordan-Hamas: the untold story is at Bitterlemons-international.org |here|.]