Jordanians were jumping in joy Friday morning, when they heard their team had just won its first official Olympic medal ever, and it is gold to boot. The winner was a 20-year-old business student named Ahmad Abu Ghaush, who took the gold in the 65 kg Taekwondo event, after beating Russia’s Alexey Denisenko 10-6 in the Rio Olympics.
The Abu Ghaush family immigrated to Jordan from the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghaush, located on the main highway to Jerusalem.
The Korean martial art Taekwondo was developed in the 1940s and 1950s by martial artists who incorporated elements of Karate and Chinese martial arts. Since 2000, taekwondo has been one of only two Asian martial arts (along with judo) that are included in the Olympic Games.
A Royal Court statement Friday said His Majesty King Abdullah called the champion after the game to express his “happiness with the distinguished sports achievement, congratulating Abu Ghaush for the historic victory that raised the name of Jordan high in the Olympic games.” Also, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein called to congratulate the champion. And Her Majesty Queen Rania “took to social media to share with Jordanians her joy for the achievement.”
The gold winner also received congratulatory calls from HRH Prince Feisal, president of the Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC), HRH Prince Hassan, president of the Higher Council for Self-Defense Sports and HRH Prince Rashid, president of the Jordanian Taekwondo Federation.
“I can’t believe it,” Abu Ghaush told the JOC News Service. “I dedicate this medal to His Majesty King Abdullah II and all the people of Jordan. This is for you.”
At the local council of Abu Ghaush they were also delighted to hear about the great achievement of their wayward cousin. “He brought great honor to the family, to his parents, and to himself, and it makes us very happy,” council head Issa Jaber told Israel Channel 2 News. “We hope someone living in Abu Ghaush today will reach a similar achievement.”
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh announced on Tuesday that the Jordanian Parliament has refused to approve the attendance of an Israeli delegation at an international summit held in Jordan this week. Tarawneh added that the parliament called on the organizers of the summit to shun any Israeli representation at the event, Jordanian media reported.
He explained at a press conference that the Jordanian Parliament is demonstrating through this step that it holds a position different than that of the official Jordanian stance on the peace agreement with Israel. While the leadership’s policy is to maintain the peace agreement, the House of Representatives boycotts Israel and treats it as an enemy state.
The 2016 Women in Parliaments (WIP) Global Forum is scheduled to begin in Amman on Wednesday, marking the first time it has been hosted in the Middle East. According to the organizers of the forum, some 260 female politicians and parliamentary figures, including heads of state, former European and African prime ministers, and ministers from 89 countries have confirmed that they will attend the event.
Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, which resolved the territorial disputes between the countries and included water-sharing agreements. The countries signed a trade treaty in 1996, and economic ties since then have developed and grown. Two years ago, Israel and Jordan signed a $500 million natural gas deal effective for 15 years.
Israel’s security and intelligence ties with Jordan are more discreet, but have likewise strengthened and developed, especially since the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and the rise of the Islamic State.
Relations have also hit some rocky spots in recent years, however, especially over Jewish access to the Temple Mount compound. Jordan has repeatedly demanded that Israel prevent religious Jews from entering the site, which is holy to Jews and to Muslims, and has even recalled its ambassador over the issue in the past.
Moreover, the Jordanian people, comprised mostly of self-identified “Palestinians”, mostly oppose the peace treaty and reject any form of normalization with Israel.
The recent announcement by the speaker of the parliament reflects this position and it remains to be seen whether King Abdullah and his successors will continue to maintain ties with Israel in the future or if they will concede to public opinion at some point.
(JNi.media) According to the Jordan Times, His Majesty King Abdullah II met on Saturday with US Secretary of State John Kerry and discussed regional developments, especially the situation in Jerusalem and efforts to revive the Middle East peace process, most notably the idea to install security cameras at the Temple Mount compound.
Kerry also stated, as cited by the JT: “I am very pleased to announce today that Prime Minister Netanyahu has agreed to what I think is an excellent suggestion by King Abdullah, to provide 24-hour video coverage of all sites” on Al Haram Al Sharif—that’s Temple Mount to most non-Muslims.
Kerry added: “This will provide comprehensive visibility and transparency and that could really be a game changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity of this holy site. I expect Jordanian and Israeli technical teams will meet soon to discuss the implementation of this idea alongside other measures to maintain and enhance order and calm.”
The idea makes such good sense, one wonders how come they haven’t thought about it before: install security cameras in a compound so rife with riots, complaints, and violations of the status quo, alleged and real. It turns out there used to be CCTVs in the compound, until, in December 2013, Jordan, the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, demanded that Israel remove surveillance cameras at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount.
“Jordan rejects Israel’s installation of surveillance cameras on December 8 to monitor waqf officials and worshippers, particularly women,” Information Minister Mohammad Momani told state news agency Petra, adding: “Jordan does not accept that Israel has set up a police station inside the compound. It is a flagrant military violation of the freedom of worshippers as well as an interference in the affairs of the Jordanian Islamic waqf.”
In other words, those CCTVs were going to help Israeli police do a better job of maintaining the status quo, which entailed preventing Arab rioting and violence up there, which in itself presented an effort on the part of Israel to impose “a new status quo in Jerusalem,” Momani said.
But on Saturday, realizing that violence often begets much worse violence, Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh agreed a cessation to the violence is necessary and that the Kingdom condemns all killing of civilians, a sentiment echoed by the secretary of state.
Both Abdullah and Kerry expressed appreciation of each other’s friendship, the long partnership between both nations, and of His Majesty’s role in guiding the region and leading Jordan’s role in maintaining stability in the region.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information, government spokesperson, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Riyad al-Maliki, warned that the CCTVs on Temple Mount would be a trap, and that Israel plans to use them to register Arab youths as inciters.
Masked Arab rioters had prepared pipe bombs to be filled with explosives in a planned pogrom against Jews and non-Jewish tourists on the Temple Mount Sunday.
Advanced intelligence helped police foil the attack, and law enforcement officers startled the Arabs shortly after dawn, as reported here.
Police spokesmen stated:
Masked protesters who were inside the mosque threw stones and fireworks at police. Suspect pipes that could be filled with homemade explosives were also found at the entry to the [Al Aqsa] mosque.
Police later removed any doubts that the objects were not pipe bombs.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the presence of pipe bombs at the on the Temple Mount “requires all of us to think again about arrangements” at the holy site.
Almost exactly a year ago, violence on the Temple Mount appeared to be on the verge of an all-out religious war, but a secret meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah resulted in a mutual understanding that Jews would continue to be prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount and Arabs Muslims would put a stop to violence.
The understanding lasted for several months, but a new round of escalation began several months ago.
Jordan’s reaction to today’s clash was not encouraging, and the Kingdom blamed Israel for “raiding” the mosque.
The Palestinian Authority-based Ma’an News Agency reported,:
An AFP journalist saw a number of people being detained and heavy police deployments in the Old City.
A Palestinian boy identified as Anas Siyam was evacuated to hospital after he was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the chest. His condition is unknown….
A spokesman of the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah movement in Jerusalem, Raafat Ulayyan, urged the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Israel to ‘hurry to defend’ the holy Muslim place from which ‘our prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.’
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan dropped the other shoe Monday in a letter calling on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to outlaw two Muslim radical groups from the Temple Mount.
The Palestinian Authority called Edan’s proposal “racist.”
The right of Jews to ascend the Temple Mount, as stated in the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty, has been under threat by increasingly violent Muslims who are paid to harass and attack Jews at the holy site.
Daily violence and the unprecedented action of Jerusalem policy facing off against Muslims who barricaded themselves inside the Al Aqsa mosque last year threatened to erupt into an all-out war until Jordanian King Abdullah and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met in Amman and took measures to cool things down.
Access to Jews was allowed, but the government made it clear that Cabinet ministers may not visit the Temple Mount.
The unwritten agreement held ground for several months until radical Muslim re-asserted their presence with men and women paid by the Islamic Movement to visit the holy site with the sole purpose of chasing and attacking Jews.
A visiting Christian was attacked last week, and Palestinian Authority and Arab world media have escalated incitement with constant reports that police escort settlers to “storm” the Temple Mount.
Erdan decided enough is enough and wrote to Ya’alon letter, which he said is supported by the police and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), to outlaw the “Morabiton” and “Morabitat” radical Muslims groups.
These organizations follow Jewish visits to the Temple Mount and yell, incite and block them. Their aim is to use violence and intimidation to stop Jews from trying to visit the Temple Mount, and I will do everything I can to stop these dangerous organizations that violate the status quo.
The damage, partly irreversible, caused by the Israel’s government’s turning a blind eye to Muslim violence while limiting Jewish visitors is reflected in statements made by the Al Aqsa NGO, whose official told Reshet Bet (Voice of Israel) radio Monday:
We have seen an increase in visits to the Temple Mount by fanatics and criminal Jews who cause provocations.
Israel violates the status quo (by allowing Jews to visit]. Israel is not allowed to maintain security on the Temple Mount.
It is occupied territory under international law. Israel has occupied it since 1967.
Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount is within the “consensus” of almost all Israeli Jews, so much so that even the interviewer for the leftist and pluralistic Reshet Bet charged the Muslim official with lying. He also continuous questioned the Al Aqsa official about Muslims who attack Jews, but the only response was a repetition that the Temple Mount is not a part of Israel.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died at the age of 90, according to a statement read overnight (Jan. 23) on Saudi Arabian state-run television.
“His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 am this morning,” the statement said. Qur’anic verses were chanted on the air prior to the announcement, usually indicating the death of a member of the royal family.
In recent months the king was in and out of the hospital with breathing difficulties. In January the royal court announced he was suffering with pneumonia.
The monarch was in the hospital at the time of his passing at 1 am Friday local time, the BBC reported. Born around 1923 in Riyadh, Abdullah was the 13th of 37 sons of King Abdulaziz, also known as Ibn Saud, the founder of the modern nation of Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States. He is survived by four sons and reportedly was married 13 times during his lifetime, although he never had more than four wives at one time, in accordance with Islamic law, The New York Times reported.
Abdullah rose to the throne in 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd, but in actuality ruled the nation since his older brother was incapacitated by a stroke in 1995, when he was serving as deputy minister. He was seen by Saudis as a reformer, though one who made changes gradually. He allowed mild criticism of his government in the media, which placed him in stark contrast to most other Arab leaders in the region. Change is something that is perceived in a relative manner, depending on where you live: what is considered hypocrisy and repression to Western eyes may be seen as radical reform in the eyes of the Middle East.
The price of oil soared by more than two percent – one dollar – after his death was reported.
Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Abdullah’s’s 79-year-old half-brother, became the new king, despite the fact that it is believed the former defense minister and governor of Riyadh is suffering from dementia.
Last year King Abdullah also appointed his youngest surviving brother, 69-year-old Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, to become second in line for the throne. The move was seen as a way to ensure the monarchy would remain in the House of Saud for the foreseeable future, inasmuch as Salman and Muqrin are both sons of King Abdulaziz as well.
One of King Salman’s first acts was to immediately called on the Allegiance Council of the royal family to recognize Muqrin as his Crown Prince and heir.