This article first appeared on , and is co-authored by James Fromson, a Fulbright fellow in Amman, Jordan.
The Islamic State’s horrific immolation of Jordanian Air Force Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh has produced a clear “rally ‘round the flag” effect in the Hashemite Kingdom. Spontaneous demonstrations across Amman and in Kasasbeh’s hometown of Kerak saw young men calling for bloody revenge. The government-aligned media was in lockstep: “We will have revenge,” read the headline of al-Ghad.
Early Wednesday morning, the Jordanian government took a first step in delivering that eye for an eye, executing two long-imprisoned al Qaeda operatives. But the kingdom is going further, too. The murdered pilot’s father, Safi Youssef al-Kasasbeh, who earlier had blamed the Jordanian government’s involvement in the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) for his son’s fate, called upon the military to avenge his son. The vengeance has begun: On Thursday, the Jordanian Air Force launched airstrikes on IS targets in eastern Syria and, according to some reports, Iraq.
So far the Jordanian public loves it. After the bombing raids, the Jordanian fighter jets circled back over Kasasbeh’s hometown for a victory lap, where the crowds assembled on the ground below cheered and clapped. Jordanian social media even briefly entertained — rather hopefully — the idea that King Abdullah, a trained pilot, would lead sorties over Syria. Even the king’s reported quote from Clint Eastwood’s western Unforgiven went over well.
So has Jordanian public opinion made a decisive turn in favor of more aggressive action against the Islamic State? This is just what Washington wants. But although hope springs eternal, the upswing in Jordanian military actions is probably not.
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