Tags: Exclusive Interviews | Iran | ISIS/Islamic State | MidPoint | War on Terrorism | jordan | isis

Mideast Expert Rubin: Jordan Also Has a Radical Islam Problem

By    |   Monday, 09 Feb 2015 06:01 PM

Jordan has enemies not just in nearby Syria and Iraq, where Islamic State jihadists murdered a Jordanian pilot — radical militants also threaten the country from within, Middle East scholar and former Pentagon official Michael Rubin told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Monday.

So while Jordan's King Abdullah and his country's armed forces are good allies to have against the Islamic State (ISIS), the world should be mindful that ISIS sympathizers at home could become a serious problem for the newest and most fervent member of the anti-ISIS coalition, said Rubin.

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ISIS might be banking on internal Jordanian support, in fact, whether or not the terrorist group underestimated the popular anger it would awaken by burning alive the captive pilot and releasing a video of his horrific execution, he said.

"No one bats 1.000, and at the same time, the Islamic State might also calculate that they're going for the long haul," said Rubin, an American Enterprise Institute scholar and a lecturer for the U.S. armed forces who also served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

The would-be caliphate's leaders "might be forced into the defensive in the immediate future by the Jordanian airstrikes," said Rubin.

Likewise, Jordan's sudden ferocity and swift retaliation "may have caught the Islamic State by surprise," he said. "They may have thought they could defy the Jordanian people and knock them out of the coalition," said Rubin.

But he added: "Make no mistake: the king of Jordan is far more popular outside Jordan than inside Jordan. The Islamic State may calculate that all they have to do is wait until Jordanian Islamists step up to the plate and really take advantage of the Achilles heel, which is Islam in Jordan."

Jordan fears home-grown terror more than it fears ISIS, according to reports in The Washington Post and The Jerusalem Post.

As for ISIS, airstrikes alone will not eliminate an enemy that has "strategic depth" and many strongholds still intact throughout captured territory in Syria and Iraq — even if the bombardment does have ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "frightened," as Jordan's air force chief told NBC News.

Perhaps the head of the Islamic State isn't going to hang out in Syria; he might hang out in Mosul," said Rubin. "But the fact of the matter is he has plenty of places to choose from."

Rubin also discussed the collapse of the U.S.-allied government in Yemen, which is now controlled by a Muslim tribe, the Houthis, with backing from Iran, the country most hostile to America's interests in the Middle East.

Who controls Yemen matters, said Rubin, because of its strategic location along a major oil shipping route, and because it has become a base for Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the group that claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks in January.

Rubin was wary of viewing Iran as a potential U.S. partner in any attempt to re-stabilize Yemen based on the logic that the U.S. and Iran have a common enemy in al-Qaida.

"It's almost as if you have a firefighter and an arsonist: We both might have a mutual interest in fires, but we're hardly on the same team," said Rubin, author of "Dancing With the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes."

"The problem is, when you look at all the Iranian rhetoric and all the Iranian behavior, they're not looking at the United States as a partner in any of this," he said. "They see the United States as weak and they're actively talking about expanding their strategic boundaries."

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Jordan has enemies not just in nearby Syria and Iraq, where Islamic State jihadists murdered a Jordanian pilot — radical militants also threaten the country from within, Middle East scholar and former Pentagon official Michael Rubin told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Monday.
jordan, isis, syria, iraq, war, terror
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2015-01-09
Monday, 09 Feb 2015 06:01 PM
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