THE LEVANT – By Raed Omari – Recent remarks by Jordan’s King Abdullah about Islam and Zionism have addressed double standards on terrorism and extremism, analysts say.
His message was that radicalism is not the embodiment of Islam, but a phenomenon that exists in all religions and ideologies, including Zionism, analysts said.
“All world countries are in a state of war between moderation and extremism,” said the king. “There is a civil war within Islam [and] there is Zionist extremism… Stakeholders should acknowledge there is extremism in all camps.”
The military war on terror may “take a brief time,” but the ideological war could last up to 15 years, he added.
Muslims and Christians “have to think together how to deal with the various challenges. We are living in a new and changing world,” he said.
Musa Shteiwi, head of the University of Jordan’s Centre for Strategic Studies, described the king’s remarks as a “comprehensive ideological framework and political roadmap” against terror.
Shteiwi said the king was correcting the widely-held misconception that the war on terror is a clash of civilizations or cultures.
Each religion has hardliners who see themselves as the only “right people,” and who see the “other” as their enemy, Shteiwi added. “Under whatever pretext, radicalism cannot be a product of civilization.”
He described radicalism as a “universal phenomenon” that threatens all peoples, regions and religions.
Shteiwi said King Abdullah was promoting the main pillars of Islam, which are moderation, tolerance and coexistence.
“Ideologies embracing radicalism and extremism are in a state of war against Islam itself before anything else,” Shteiwi added.
Combating terrorism is in the highest interests of Arab and Islamic states, so there is no room for hesitation or uncertainty, he said.
“It is not a matter of ‘you’re either with us or against us.’ In the war against terror, there is only one formula: You’re either with radicalism or with moderation.”
Political analyst Oraib Rentawi, of the Amman-based Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies, said the king was “very decisive” in “calling on moderate voices in all religions to step forward together in the fight against radicalism.”
Rentawi added: “Unleashing a radical group from a certain sect and cracking down on another belonging to another sect is a major reason of terrorism.”
Relations with Israel
King Abdullah’s comments on “Zionist extremism” marked a new development in the Jordanian narrative on Israel, Rentawi said.
Amman is adopting a “verbal escalation in the relationship with Tel Aviv,” which has been “unheard of since 1994, when they signed a peace deal,” Rentawi added.
To him, the king’s linkage of Israel with terrorism, and his description of the Israelis as “killers of our children,” reflected the reality on the ground, and the monarch’s frustration at Tel Aviv’s unilateral measures that have deadlocked the peace process.
Rentawi said: “Amman’s conviction in Tel Aviv’s unreliability as a peace partner, coupled with the Israeli assaults on the holy sites in Jerusalem that have been under the kingdom’s custodianship since 1924, are the major reasons behind Jordan’s escalating discourse on Israel.”
Jordan’s ambassador to Tel Aviv recently warned of the impact of Israeli escalation against Al-Aqsa mosque on the peace treaty, whose 20th anniversary was marked earlier this week.
Jordanian MP Jamil al-Nimri said the king’s analysis of the reality of the war on terror was “daring” and “comprehensive,” using a preventative rather than a reactionary approach.
Jihadism is a manifestation of the civil war within Islam, to which the king referred, Nimri added.
He said the king was “very decisive” when it came to Jordan’s participation in the alliance against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and its eagerness to fight terrorism. These issues “lie at the heart of the kingdom’s strategic interests.”