The bomb blast outside the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad sent an unmistakable message to the moderate Arab state: Don’t support the U.S. or a free Iraq.
While the media is quick to point to contempt in the Arab world for the new, U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, Jordan has been quietly supportive of the transitional authority that represents the closest thing to representative governance the people of Iraq have ever experienced. Jordan’s post-war support has been much more important than its 11th-hour backing of the war—in part because it has a history of standing arm-in-arm with pro-Western Iraqi opposition forces.
Because Jordan has been a strong U.S. partner in the War on Terror—including the war in Iraq—and has a history supporting the pro-democracy forces in Iraq, there are many possibilities that investigators will have to sift through. Al Qaeda, Saddam loyalists, and even Syrian/Iranian agents all figure into the suspect matrix.
The most obvious suspect to consider is the network fronted by Osama bin Laden. Jordan has become one of al Qaeda’s worst enemies in the Arab world with the helping hand it has provided U.S. and western intelligence agencies, so hitting Jordan would prove tempting. And given that Iraq has become a shooting gallery, al Qaeda may have spotted an irresistible target in the embassy in Baghdad.
With U.S. troops busy securing a myriad of sites in and around the notorious “triangle”—the Sunni Arab area in the center of the country where most of the gun battles are raging—the Jordanian embassy was, in relative terms, about as protected as a movie theater. A car bomb is not necessarily an al Qaeda trademark, but sending a message clearly is.
If the bombing is not al Qaeda’s handiwork, it could be that Saddam loyalists took a break from shooting U.S. soldiers to kill Jordanians for a change. Despite Jordan’s waffling on the eve of the war, the Hashemite monarchy there had supported the pro-democracy Iraqi National Congress even when the United States turned its back on the group back in the mid-1990’s.
To regime loyalists still fighting in the name of the deposed despot, Jordan’s past actions are likely unforgivable. But that Jordan supports the new Iraqi Governing Council—which threatens to make permanent the freedom the Iraqi people are now starting to enjoy—probably earns the Arab state a place next to America on the Saddam loyalists’ “enemies list.”
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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