The Middle East press on the Jordan bombings.

What the foreign papers are saying.
Nov. 11 2005 4:06 PM

King Abdullah's Dilemma

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After coordinated bomb blasts devastated three Western-owned hotels in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, killing 59 and wounding up to 100, it's hardly surprising that the Jordan Times devotes most of its op-eds to the attacks. One piece urges Jordanians to keep a stiff upper lip and predicts that citizens will grow "stronger in our resolve to defend our way of life, protect our security and stability, fight for the values and principles we all share as Jordanians—East and West Bankers, Muslims and Christians, bedouins, Circassians, Chechens, Armenians." Another warns Jordanians to prepare for a loss of personal liberty: "Yes, we all value our freedoms. Yes, we want matters to be convenient and easy. Nevertheless, and until this plague is taken care of, we have to place security above all other considerations, and we have to give up some of our spontaneity and even rights, for the sake of either averting or lessening the damage done by terrorists." A third, which addresses the economic consequences of the attack, posits that the motivation behind the bombings was to "strike against Jordan's image as a safe and stable country, able to attract tourists and investment, and to provide a safe refuge for persons and funds. They meant to punish Jordan for its active role in regional affairs, especially its strong standing in the war against terrorism."

Israel's English-language press focuses on the local angle: Ha'aretz quashes a rumor that Israeli citizens were evacuated from one of the hotels before the attack, assuring readers that the "Israelis were escorted back to Israel by Jordanian security personnel only after the attacks had taken place." The Jerusalem Post predicts, "The threat is coming closer. An attack in Jordan should serve as a red light [warning] that an attack in Israel is only a matter of time. Six months, a year, or three, it will happen, it will be large scale and launched in a central, populated area."

Some papers' coverage of the attacks has a decidedly anti-American spin: An analysis by U.S. "experts" in Egypt's Middle East Times calls the bombings "a new blow to Washington's war on terror aimed at making the world safer." A story in the United Arab Emirates' Gulf News concludes that the attacks are a "result of instability in the region, particularly the explosive situation in Iraq." An editorial in Pakistan's Frontier Post concurs and places blame for the attacks in Washington and London. While conceding that those responsible for the bombings "are beasts in the skin of human beings," the editorial continues, "But if their bestiality is patent and beyond question, have not those who lay claim to high human values created the conditions for their wickedness to flourish? More specifically, have not the protagonists of the war on terror with their own acts of commission and omission levelled up the ground for these killers of innocent human beings to indulge in their orgies of death and slaughter? For, terrorism is irrefutably on the bounce ever since these protagonists have mounted their war."

Zuzanna Kobrzynski is Slate's executive assistant.


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