The Corner

What Would Happen if ISIS Destabilized Jordan?

It was not enough for the brutes of the Islamic State to torture their hostage, the Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, by shutting him in a cage. They then laid a fuse and burned him alive. Finally a bulldozer was brought to crush the cage and any remains. Anyone who could do something so evil has parted company with the human race. These Islamofascists are on the same depraved level as Nazi concentration-camp personnel who used to throw living children into ovens.

The shock might well destabilize Jordan. The country is divided between those willing to participate in the coalition against the Islamic State, and Muslim sympathizers angered to be in a coalition with the United States against fellow Sunnis. These different versions of the right war are irreconcilable. The terrible fate of Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh is supposed to spread such fear of Islamic State that its opponents will surrender.

As a Muslim caliphate, the Islamic State expects to conquer limitless territory. In the event of succeeding one way or another in overcoming the Jordanian army, it would be positioned along the lengthy common border with Israel, able to open a campaign at any moment of its choice. In those circumstances, Israel, it can only be assumed, would move to protect the integrity of Jordan by putting an end to the pretensions of the caliphate. There is another possibility. Iran has a great many irons in the fire just now, but still judged it timely a few weeks ago to set up a base on the Syrian Golan Heights, another common border from which to attack Israel. Before the base could be completed, Israel bombed it, in the process killing a very senior Iranian general. It looks as though Shia Iran hoped to pre-empt the Sunni caliphate by getting its anti-Israel blow in first. It’s not yet quite the war of all against all but atrocities and revenge will perpetuate until President Obama comes up with a coherent policy for the Middle East.

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