Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Anti-Shiite measures in Jordan: First fruits of the new Bush strategy?

Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad published on Wednesday October 4 on its front page an analytical piece that said Jordanian authorities say they are starting to become worried about the growth of Shiism in that country, even though the writer admits there aren't more than a few hundred actual Jordanian Shiites, and as the writer also notes, many if not most Jordanians don't even understand the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni.

The "concerns" are said to be based, first of all, on connections between Hamas and Jordanian members of the Muslim Brotherhood [implied connection to Shiite Iran, I guess], secondly on the fact thousands of refugee Iraqi Shiites are settling in Amman, and finally on the street-popularity of Lebanese Hizbullah leader Nasrullah, and the risks of street-reactions in the event there were trouble with Iran in connection with the US pressure on that country. The writer also says the authorities say they have noticed an upswing in religious Shiite evangelism in recent years.

Jordanian experts say the government has been compiling a data-base of Iraqi Shiites in Amman, noting some dangerous connections to Iran. The Iraqi immigrant Shiites and native Jordanian Shiites are also checked to guard against any religious proselytizing, and anyone found doing so is expelled from the country immediately. The religious "concerns" apparently date back a few years; the "political Shiism" factor is new.

I would appear from all of this that one way of the other, if you are a Shiite in Jordan, you can expect to be under surveillance or worse. This is the first time in history that the Jordanian regime has taken Shiism to be in any way dangerous.

Could this be one of the ugly harbingers of the new Bush campaign to gather the Sunni Arab regimes together to fight the Iranian-Hizbollah (Shiite) menace? Williams College professor Marc Lynch, who highlighted this piece on his blog, says the thought occurred to him, not in so many words, of course.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generally, analysis of the Middle East takes the makes the distinction between Sunni and Shia.
However, recent there was a report about Arab Shia and Persian Shia in Iraq.
Is this ethnic distinction as significant as the religious? I find it hard to believe that people would inflict so much harm on one another just becasue they don't agree on the legitimate successor to Mohammad.

6:46 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Re Arab and Persian Shia in Iraq: "is this ethnic distinction as significant as the religious"

I wish I knew. All I can say for sure is that Saudi newspaper piece I summarized on Sept 20, ("A Saudi version of what's happening...") the writer appeared to be saying: "Fine, the Persians are taking over cities in the south of Iraq, but this will be resisted by the surrounding Arab-Shia tribes". So for him I guess, race is the deciding factor. But I don't know. There is natural racial hatred in people like that, but there is also the kind of religious hate that can be stirred up by "divide and conquer" politics... It's a long way of saying "I don't know" and I wish I did...

7:35 AM  
Blogger dubhaltach said...

Is this ethnic distinction as significant as the religious?

No it is far far far far more significant. It is the sine qua non You have absolutely no idea how detested the Iranians are by most Iraqis.

Badger would you please consider leaving a comment at our place (It WILL NOT be published) with an email addy so that Dad (markfromireland) can get in touch with you.

6:29 AM  

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