TIME Jordan

Jordan’s King Abdullah Says the War Against ISIS ‘Is Our War’

"It has been for a long time," he tells CNN

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has intensified his rhetoric in the kingdom’s fight against ISIS.

“It is our war. It has been for a long time,” King Abdullah told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria during an interview that aired on Sunday.

The King went on to describe the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria’s fighters as “outlaws” of Islam and said ISIS had set up an “irresponsible caliphate to try to expand their dominion over Muslims.”

ISIS forces captured Royal Jordanian Air Force fighter pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh last December and later burned him alive during a notorious video that they published online. The killing sparked retaliatory attacks from Jordan led by King Abdullah personally.

Read more at CNN

TIME National Security

Kayla Mueller’s Death: Focusing on Names, Not Numbers

Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.
Mueller Family—Reuters Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.

As war evolves, U.S. attention shifts to individual losses

There is nothing sadder than the loss of a child. American parents reflexively choked up Tuesday after the White House confirmed the death of Kayla Mueller, 26, who had been held hostage by Islamic terrorists in Syria since August 2013.

Details of her death were scant. A White House aide said her captors, belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, had provided information to the Mueller family, which led the U.S. intelligence community to confirm she had perished. ISIS claimed she had been killed in a Jordanian air strikes last week launched in retaliation for ISIS burning captured Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh to death.

While some intelligence sources expressed skepticism she was killed by a Jordanian bomb, it makes little difference. Mueller was there because people were dying, and she wanted to help. “For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal,” she told her hometown paper in Prescott, Ariz., before she was captured. “It’s important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are. And from that place, start caring and get a lot done.”

Just like millions of Americans in uniform following 9/11, she volunteered to serve in a war zone, and ended up paying the ultimate price.

Unlike the nearly 7,000 of them, though, there has been intense media focus on her fate since ISIS said she was said she had been killed and her name surfaced, after her family and the U.S. government had kept it secret for 18 months.

There is nothing wrong with that. Individual stories from the war zones—whether that of Jason Dunham, James Foley, Salvatore Giunta, Peter Kassig, Chris Kyle, Steven Sotloff or Pat Tillman—allow us to focus on individual acts. That can shed light on what the nation is doing there, and the progress it is making. Tallying individuals’ sacrifice can lead us to conclude, perhaps in a way raw numbers cannot, whether the effort is worth it.

But, in the same way, raw numbers pack their own kind of punch. Their toll instructs us in how war has changed in our hyper-connected, 24/7 world, and how much, and how willingly, the nation used to sacrifice its young.

An estimated 19,000 Americans died in World War II’s month-long Battle of the Bulge. Storming Normandy cost 16,000 U.S. troops their lives. Gettysburg killed 7,000, on both sides. Korea’s battle of Pusan killed 4,600 Americans. On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed by al Qaeda terrorists, including more than 2,600 Americans. In Vietnam, the Battle of Khe Sanh left more than 700 U.S. troops dead. The Taliban shot down a U.S. Army helicopter in Afghanistan in 2011, killing 30 American troops.

Such numbers have been trending downward. Perhaps we focus on individuals because, thankfully for Americans, our casualties—both military and civilian—in our post-9/11 wars have been historically modest. That doesn’t ease the pain for individual families, of course, but it does mean far fewer families are enduring such anguish.

TIME Saudi Arabia

Prince Charles Will Raise Plight of Christians During Saudi Arabia Visit

Prince Charles visits Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, Feb. 8, 2015.
Sam Tarling—Corbis Prince Charles visits Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, Feb. 8, 2015.

The Prince of Wales is also likely to ask for clemency for a jailed Saudi blogger and two women arrested for driving

Prince Charles has spent much of his adult life feeling he can’t win. He’s often criticized for doing too much, “meddling” in issues of the day, yet his opponents are just as apt to accuse him of doing nothing useful at all. On Tuesday these apparently contradictory responses to the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom will crackle across the headlines and flare into scornful tweets and posts as he arrives in Saudi Arabia on a trip that has already taken in Jordan, moved on to Kuwait and will also include Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. His frequent sojourns in the Middle East rarely fail to spark controversy, and his visit to Saudi Arabia could scarcely come at a more delicate time.

The Kingdom, unlike his own, is grappling with the upheaval caused by the transition from a long-reigning monarch to a newcomer. King Salman has succeeded to the throne vacated by the Jan. 23 death of his older half-brother King Abdullah and is already rolling back some of the cautious reforms Abdullah implemented. The nation also sits at the center of the interlocking crises gripping the Middle East. It is both a wellspring of jihadism and a crucial bulwark against the march of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other militant groups. But it is Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights and freedoms that is likely to play loudest for the Prince. Two cases, in particular, are causing outrage: Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for championing free speech in postings such as these, and Loujain al-Hathloul and Maysa al-Amoudi, two women sitting in Saudi jails, originally detained for the offense under Saudi law of driving a car despite the accident of birth that made them female.

A similarly random accident of birth gives Prince Charles a platform and an influence among the upper tiers of the Saudi establishment. Royals feel comfortable with royals. Yet that’s not the only reason the Prince has become, in the words of an official from Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “a huge asset” to British diplomacy in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. He has assiduously been building on that innate advantage since 1993, when he delivered a speech just before embarking on a trip to Saudi Arabia. His words — startling at the time in their acknowledgment of Christianity’s own muddy history and his call for closer ties between Islam and the West — established his status as a friend of Islam; elsewhere it sowed silly rumors that still flourish in corners of the Internet, holding him to be a secret Muslim.

He has continued to reprise some of the themes of that first speech, most recently in a BBC interview just before his current travels during which he did his best to argue for religious faith as a unifying force rather than a divisive one. That view is pretty hard to marry up with the violent fractures in the region he is now touring, but it is to him an article of his own faith. That faith, despite the rumors, is Church of England Anglicanism but the Prince also believes in the common roots of religion and the interconnectedness of much more besides. “Islam — like Buddhism and Hinduism — refuses to separate man and nature, religion and science, mind and matter, and has preserved a metaphysical and unified view of ourselves and the world around us,” he told his audience in his 1993 speech on Islam.

For all these reasons, his Saudi hosts will treat him with the highest respect when he comes calling. That may well mean more photo opportunities that rebound against him, such as his participation last year in a traditional sword dance that inspired predictably scathing responses on social media

What is far less certain is that he will be able to intervene successfully on behalf of Badawi, al-Hathloul or al-Amoudi, though he is likely to use his high-level meetings to communicate the anxiety of Her Majesty’s Government about their plight. He will also raise concerns about the suffering of Christian communities in the Middle East, as he has done before and with increasing urgency as the turmoil in the region has deepened. He may have the ear of Saudi royalty but little or no sway over the country’s judiciary or its religious leaders, who operate in uneasy and fragile balance with the Saudi monarchy but are not under its control.

The imagery from his trip will not reflect these realities, producing instead a series of vignettes of a monarch-in-waiting cosying up to fellow royals, lending support rather than issuing challenges to the harsh regime. The role the Prince has carved out for himself in the region relies on him wielding such influence as he does have in private.

Catherine Mayer’s biography, Born to Be King: Prince Charles on Planet Windsor, is published in the U.S. on Feb. 17 by Henry Holt.

TIME Military

The U.S. ‘Goldilocks’ Strategy Toward ISIS

F16 fighter jets from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrive at an air base in Jordan
Petra Petra / Reuters F-16 fighters from the United Arab Emirates arrived at an air base in Jordan over the weekend, ready to attack ISIS targets.

The Islamic State wants the Pentagon to step up its fight

President Obama is tiptoeing carefully through the minefield that is the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. So far, he has been surefooted, if tentative. But one false step could mortally wound the final two years of his time in office.

He knows it, the Pentagon knows it—and you can bet that ISIS knows it. The challenge is to make sure the American public knows it, if ISIS becomes even more depraved (which is admittedly hard to believe).

Last week featured ISIS’s brutality on display, first with the release of a video purporting to show the murder by fire of Jordanian 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, and then with the claim that U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller had been killed by Jordanian bombs dropped by Amman’s F-16s in retaliation for the Jordanian F-16 pilot’s killing.

Jordan has stepped up its bombing of ISIS targets since the militants killed the pilot, reporting 56 air raids in three days. The United Arab Emirates, which had suspended its air strikes following al-Kasasbeh’s capture, has deployed warplanes to Jordan following his murder. ISIS’s brutality has “galvanized the coalition, unified the coalition,” retired Marine general John Allen, now the Obama Administration’s anti-ISIS chief, told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

But what if the murdered pilot had been an American?

The anti-ISIS fervor that has gripped Jordan since the video’s release would pale alongside congressional denunciations of Obama’s steady-as-she-goes policy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Cable-news commentators would crank up the heat demanding retribution.

As satisfying as such rants might be, they play into ISIS’s hands. “If we want to fight terrorism effectively we must realize that nothing the terrorists do can defeat us,” Yuval Noah Harari, a historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote over the weekend in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “We are the only ones who can defeat ourselves, if we overreact in a misguided way to terrorist provocations.”

That’s the trap ISIS has set for Washington. Given the white-hot rhetoric that Republicans regularly hurl at Obama, it could work. “Too often, what’s missing here in Washington is a sense of perspective,” Susan Rice, the national security adviser, said Friday. The threat ISIS and groups like it pose “are not of the existential nature we confronted during World War II or during the Cold War,” she said. “We cannot afford to be buffeted by alarmism in a nearly instantaneous news cycle.”

Rice said the U.S.-led alliance has “taken out thousands of [ISIS’s] fighters, destroyed nearly 200 oil and gas facilities that fund their terror, and pushed them out of territory, including areas around Baghdad, Sinjar, and the Mosul Dam.”

Obama is pursuing what might be called a “Goldilocks” strategy against ISIS — not too hot, and not too cold. He’s ordered air strikes, which has upset some of his fellow Democrats. But he has refrained from expanding the U.S. role, which has distressed some Republicans. He seems dedicated to the dicey proposition of limiting the U.S. to a supporting player (although it has conducted 81% of the air strikes), and letting Iraqis and Syrians take the lead in the battle on the ground against the barbarians who have seized much of their nations. “We can’t police a region that won’t police itself,” Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., told CNN Sunday.

In 2001, the Pentagon was fully on board when President George W. Bush decided to invade Afghanistan for the shelter its Taliban government provided al Qaeda, which launched the 9/11 attacks. But U.S. military officers were far more skeptical of the need to invade Iraq two years later.

Now, 12 years after the Iraq invasion, there is an abiding skepticism inside the Pentagon about deeper U.S. involvement in its six-month war against ISIS. Few want it expanded into a third major U.S.-led war in the region. But their leeriness is tempered by not wanting the sacrifice of 4,486 American lives in the 2003 Iraq war to have been wasted. Many of them, of course, weren’t yet alive when Vietnam should have purged that urge for waging war nearly a half-century ago.

TIME Jordan

Video: Jordan Military Strikes ISIS Targets in Syria

The U.S. Central Command released video footage of the coalition airstrikes.

Jordan launched a wave of airstrikes Thursday as King Abdullah vowed to avenge the execution of a Jordanian pilot captured by the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria.

In the video above, Jordanian forces strike what the Pentagon identifies as a storage and staging facility in the northeastern city of al-Hasakah. U.S. Central Command, the regional Pentagon command that oversees U.S. military action in 20 nations stretching from Egypt to Pakistan, released that video and the two others below on Friday.

Jordan has played an active role in the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS, but it has intensified airstrikes as the nation rallied against ISIS over the videotaped execution of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh.

On Thursday, the military said dozens of fighter jets bombed ISIS targets and warplanes flew over King Abdullah as he met with the slain pilot’s father.

The strikes came under scrutiny on Friday after ISIS claimed that an American female hostage held in the city of ar-Raqqa was killed in the assault. Jordanian officials expressed skepticism over the claims and U.S. officials said they could not be confirmed.

 

TIME Jordan

The King Who Had a Role in Star Trek is Now Going to War for Real

King Abdullah II of Jordan meets with members of the US Senate Appropriations Committee at the U.S. Captiol in Washington on Feb. 03, 2015.
Samuel Corum—Anadolu Agency King Abdullah II of Jordan meets with members of the US Senate Appropriations Committee at the U.S. Captiol in Washington on Feb. 03, 2015.

Jordan's King Abdullah has sworn vengeance on ISIS after they killed of one of his pilots

After the news broke that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had burned the captured Jordanian Moaz al-Kasasbeh alive, King Abdullah of Jordan promised a “relentless war” against ISIS in retaliation for the murder of the 27-year fighter pilot.

On Thursday it began. In a mission called “Moaz the Martyr,” Jordanian jets targeted ISIS training camps, arms and ammunition storage in ISIS-controlled areas in Syria. Returning from their sorties, the planes flew directly over the pilot’s village of Aye, where King Abdullah sat paying a condolence call to al-Kasasbeh’s father. Outside, a traditional Beduouin chant broke out: “Long Live His Majesty, Long Live the King.”

Abdullah got the news of the pilot’s immolation while in Washington, where he’d been seeking an aid package. He left with the promise of $1 billion annually over the next three years — a 35% increase on the current arrangement. Abdullah’s ease with Americans and their culture has served him well abroad, even as it’s raised eyebrows in some Jordanian circles. He’s made guest appearences on Star Trek and The Daily Show, and according to the New York Times, is so friendly with New Jersey governor Chris Christie that Abdullah paid the bill for Christie and his family to visit Jordan, complete with a champagne reception in the desert.

The Jordanian monarchy is one of the Middle East’s most enduring regimes. The 53-year-old Abdullah is the fourth of the Hashemite kings, who trace their ancestry back to the Prophet Muhammad, and their dynasty back to 1921. Abdullah’s own father, King Hussein, ruled for 47 years, before his death in 1999, when Abdullah assumed the throne.

Jordan has the reputation of being among the West’s strongest allies in the Arab World, and its king’s roots in the West are deep. His mother was British-born, and Abdullah was educated in the West, graduating from the Massachusetts prep school Deerfield Academy and Britain’s military academy, Sandhurst, with stints at Georgetown and Oxford universities.

He returned to Jordan for a military career, serving in the Royal Jordanian Air Force, and commanding the country’s special forces. But the foreign education has left its mark: he speaks Arabic with a slight accent, adding to his reputation among Jordanian tribes and the poor that he is out of touch with ordinary Jordanians. “When he came in, with his neoliberal plans for the economy, with more foreign trade and high rises, and his cosmopolitan wife, the traditional tribes who supported the king were sort of like, ‘who is this guy, and what is he doing?'” notes Jillian Schwedler, an expert in Jordanian politics at Hunter College in New York.

Throughout his reign, Abdullah has presented himself to the West as a reformer, hinting to the Atlantic in a 2013 profile that he’d like to see Jordan’s monarchy become a ceremonial one, like Britain’s. But Jordan’s frustrated reformers see the progress as stutter-stop. “As Jordan trumpets its reform initiatives, prosecutors are arresting activists and opposition figures for free speech-related offenses,” said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch’s in a January 29 report on the slow pace of Jordanian reform. “Constitutional guarantees amount to no more than ink on paper if the authorities don’t get rid of penal code articles that are used to undermine them.”
To Abdullah’s critics, his Palestinian wife, Queen Rania, is yet another source of frustration. While Rania’s glamour and work for women and young people are lauded abroad, her out-spokenness and high profile have led to criticism from conservative Jordanians who would prefer their queen kept a much lower profile. In 2011, 36 tribal leaders wrote an open letter, denouncing her as a divisive, power-hungry, and “stealing from the country and the people.”

In a country where criticism of the king is punishable by law, the letter was unprecedented, not least because it was signed by tribal leaders who traditionally have been the monarchy’s staunchest supporters. It was written during the Arab Spring, when popular protests swept the region, as ordinary citizens called for greater representative democracy. Unlike the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, Abdullah kept his position. But during 2011 and 2012, he faced protests, not merely from his traditional opposition, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, but from tribes from the impoverished south of the country, who called themselves “The Movement.”

Elections in 2013, promised as “shining milestones” of reform, disappointed those hoping for real change for the monarchy. Islamist parties boycotted them, which is relatively routine, but leftist parties joined in, too. Many Jordanians burned their voter registration cards in protest at recent fuel hikes, noted a report from the Middle East Media Monitor.

The fight against ISIS will temporarily damp down domestic dissent. The young men in the south temporarily have a new, external target for their anger. “King Abdullah will pour as much as he can into the fight against ISIS,” predicts Sean T. Yom, a political scientist specializing in Jordan at Temple University, Philadelphia. “He needs a foreign distraction to further dilute tensions.” As Queen Rania, marching along with the crowds of thousands who gathered in Amman waving Jordanian flags told the BBC, the country is “united in our horror.”

Read next: Jordan Wages War With ISIS After Pilot Death

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TIME Syria

ISIS Claims Jordanian Airstrikes Killed U.S. Hostage

Jordan launched a wave of new airstrikes after a pilot held by ISIS was killed and video of his death was posted online.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria has claimed that a female U.S. hostage was killed in the fierce Jordanian airstrikes that followed the execution of a Jordanian pilot held by ISIS.

The Islamist terror group said on Twitter that the woman, identified as humanitarian aid worker Kayla Mueller, was killed in the building where she was held outside the city of ar-Raqqah, according to the Site Intelligence Group.

MORE The King Who Had a Role in Star Trek is Now Going to War for Real

The claim has not been independently confirmed, and a spokeswoman for the National Security Council said in a statement that “We have not at this time seen any evidence that corroborates” the claim, the New York Times reports.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said authorities there were “highly skeptical” about the claim, the Wall Street Journal reports. “How could they identify Jordanian warplanes from a huge distance in the sky, and what was the American lady doing in a weapons warehouse? It’s part of their criminal propaganda.”

“Allah made their pursuit disappointed and deterred their cunning, and no mujahid was injured in the bombardment,” the ISIS message said. “It was confirmed to us the killing of an American female hostage by fire of the shells dropped on the site.”

Jordan launched a wave of new air strikes on Thursday after King Abdullah vowed to wage a “harsh” war against ISIS over the videotaped execution of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. The pilot was captured in Syria when his F-16 crashed in December, and a video posted online showed him burned alive in a cage.

Mueller, 26, disappeared in August 2013 in northern Syria, according to the Times, which said she is the only known remaining American hostage held by ISIS.

TIME Jordan

Jordan Wages War With ISIS After Pilot Death

Jordanian King Abdullah II, right, talks with Safi al-Kaseasbeh, father of slain Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, on Feb. 5, 2015
Nasser Nasser—AP Jordanian King Abdullah II, right, talks with Safi al-Kaseasbeh, father of the slain Jordanian pilot on Feb. 5, 2015

Jordan has bombed ISIS training centers

(AMMAN) — Dozens of Jordanian fighter jets bombed the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) training centers and weapons storage sites Thursday, intensifying attacks after the militants burned to death a captured Jordanian pilot.

As part of the new campaign, Jordan is also attacking targets in Iraq, said Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. Up to now, Jordan had struck ISIS targets in Syria, but not Iraq, as part of a U.S.-led military coalition.

“We said we are going to take this all the way, we are going to go after them wherever they are and we’re doing that,” Judeh told Fox News.

Asked if Jordan was now carrying out attacks in both countries, he said: “That’s right. Today more Syria than Iraq, but like I said it’s an ongoing effort.”

“They’re in Iraq and they are in Syria and therefore you have to target them wherever they are,” he added.

The militant group controls about one-third of each Syria and Iraq, both neighbors of Jordan. In September, Jordan joined the U.S.-led military alliance that has been carrying out air strikes against the militants.

The Jordanian military said dozens of fighter jets were involved in Thursday’s strikes on training centers and weapons storage sites.

State TV showed footage of the attacks, including fighter jets taking off from an air base and bombs setting of large balls of fire and smoke after impact. It showed Jordanian troops scribble messages in chalk on the missiles. “For you, the enemies of Islam,” read one message.

The military’s statement, read on state TV, was entitled, “This is the beginning and you will get to know the Jordanians” — an apparent warning to ISIS. It said the strikes will continue “until we eliminate them.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II was paying a condolence visit to the family of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, in southern Jordan when the fighter jets roared overhead.

The king pointed upward, toward the planes, as he sat next to the pilot’s father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh.

Al-Kaseasbeh told the assembled mourners that the planes had returned from strikes over Raqqa, the de facto capital of the militants’ self-declared caliphate. His son had been captured near Raqqa when his F-16 fighter plane went down in December.

Earlier this week, ISIS displayed the video of the killing of the pilot on outdoor screens in Raqqa, to chants of “God is Great” from some in the audience, according to another video posted by the militants.

Also Thursday, Jordan released an influential jihadi cleric, Abu Mohammed al-Maqdesi, who was detained in October after speaking out against Jordan’s participation in the anti-ISIS coalition, according to his lawyer, Moussa al-Abdallat.

Jordan’s Islamic militants are split between supporters of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the branch of al-Qaida in Syria.

Last year, al-Maqdesi had criticized ISIS militants for attacking fellow Muslims. However, after Jordan joined the military coalition, he called on his website for Muslim unity against a “crusader war,” a reference to coalition airstrikes.

TIME Military

The Power of Vengeance

Airmen share language of aviation during Eager Lion 2014
U.S. Air Force Up to 20 Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s like this one attacked ISIS targets on Thursday, reportedly killing 55 militants.

The immolation of Jordan’s F-16 pilot bolsters the fight against ISIS

Military planners often try to wring emotions out of their war-fighting schemes. Unlike hardware and Presidential orders, they can be ephemeral and transitory.

But as Jordanian reaction to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria’s brutal murder of 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh makes clear, sometimes such visceral reactions are tantamount to sending reinforcements into the fight.

“Revenge is a uniquely human emotion, and an enduring cause of war,” a 2005 U.S. Army paper noted. “There is a moral component to punitive attack.”

Amman pledged an “earth-shaking” response to the murder of their pilot, disclosed in a horrific video ISIS posted Tuesday. Unlike the Pentagon’s plodding, the Jordanians quickly hanged a pair of terrorists in their custody and began launching air strikes against ISIS targets on Thursday.

Jordan’s King Abdullah ordered the actions after ISIS released the video purportedly showing the jihadists burning the pilot alive in a cage. It seems to have driven Muslim anger against ISIS to new heights (although the United Arab Emirates, which had been bombing ISIS targets in Syria, suspended them after the capture of the Jordanian pilot and the alliance’s inability to rescue him).

The initial Jordanian air strikes Thursday reportedly killed 55 militants in and around ISIS’s self-declared capital in the Syrian town of Raqqa, including a senior commander known as the “Prince of Nineveh.” Up to 30 F-16s flew over the murdered F-16 pilot’s hometown as they returned from their mission (that represents nearly half of the F-16s flown by the Royal Jordanian Air Force).

“The blood of martyr Moaz al-Kasasbeh will not be in vain,” Abdullah said Wednesday. “The response of Jordan and its army after what happened to our dear son will be severe.” Ironically, the old adage of an “eye for an eye” is a part of Sharia law, the Islamic legal code embraced by ISIS.

Contrast the Jordanian reaction to the Pentagon’s. The U.S. military calls its campaign against ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve. It’s a term that suggests a bulwark rather than a bulldozer. Of course, as a superpower, the U.S. tends to be restrained in a way that Jordan doesn’t.

While publicly praising the role played by America’s regional allies in the fight against ISIS, there have been frequent U.S. murmurs that they could be doing more. After all, U.S. thinking goes, ISIS poses the biggest threat to its neighbors—and co-religionists—yet they have accounted for less than 15% of the air strikes against ISIS targets.

The pilot’s murder suggests ISIS may have gone too far this time. While the beheadings of five Westerners, including—including three Americans—by ISIS didn’t appear to trigger stepped-up attacks, Jordan responded quickly.

Major Brandon D. Newton wrote about vengeance in that paper for the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. In Punishment, Revenge, and Retribution: A Historical Analysis of Punitive Operations, he noted that violent retaliation may be required to deal with groups like ISIS. “Primitive, loosely structured actors or organizations may only respond to actual force,” he said, “not the threat or potential use of force.”

Beyond that, he added, retaliation is timeless. “Revenge is innate, vengeance is an eternal characteristic, and will not be marginalized by time or technology,” Newton concluded.

Read next: Jordan Launches New Airstrikes After Vowing ‘Harsh’ War on ISIS

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TIME Jordan

Jordan Weighs Its Options for Further Retaliation Against ISIS

Jordan King Abdullah Meetings After Killing Of Pilot - Amman
Balkis Press/Sipa USA Jordan's King Abdullah II (mourning with a keffieh on his head) visits the General Headquarters of Armed Forces and meets with officials and leaders of security agencies in Amman, Jordan, on Feb. 4th, 2015, as Jordan is shocked by the killing of pilot Muath Kasasbeh by 'ISIS' or 'Islamic State' group or 'Daesh'.

The murder of a Jordanian pilot could lead to more action against ISIS

Jordan, a vulnerable country on the front lines of the longest-running conflicts in the Middle East, has become a master of trying to balance the demands of its foreign partners and donors with the needs of its citizens since it became independent in 1946. But the abduction and killing of pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh has left the people of Jordan united with its Western allies in their revulsion at the executions of hostages by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Jordan is one of the U.S.’s closest allies in the Arab world and plays a vital role in the U.S.-led fight against ISIS. U.S.-educated King Abdullah relies closely on advice from American intelligence advisers and in recent years, on financial support from Gulf Arab states. They include Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that cut ties with Jordan in 1990 when the late King Hussein was seen to have sided with Iraq against Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion. It’s taken almost two decades to repair those ties.

As fighting flared in neighboring Syria in 2011, the U.S. quietly built up its forces in the south of the country, where U.S. and fighter jets of the United Arab Emirates back the country’s own small air force. After the “Eager Lion” joint exercises between Jordan and the U.S. in 2013, the latter reportedly left 900 troops, a squadron of F-16s and a battery of Patriot missiles to ensure Jordan’s security. The presence of American forces has not been widely publicized in Jordan because although ISIS represents a threat to Jordan, much of the kingdom’s conservative population do not want their country to be in alliance with the West.

It is a measure of the concern shared by the U.S. over Jordan’s stability that the kingdom’s offer to negotiate a prisoner release with ISIS last week passed with barely a comment in Washington. No matter how unpalatable, U.S. officials realized the kingdom felt it could not survive the anger of the Jordanian people if it allowed al-Kaseasbeh to be killed. If al-Kaseasbeh’s jet hadn’t been captured by ISIS, most Jordanians would have been unaware of how deeply Jordan was involved in the fight against ISIS.

Last year Jordan’s southern city of Maan once again made headlines when a few townspeople raised ISIS flags. But scratch the surface and it’s not a love of ISIS that has young men burning tires and attacking police stations — it’s a belief the government is ignoring its people in the impoverished south.

With the knowledge that al-Kaseasbeh had been dead for several weeks when the kingdom offered a prisoner exchange, the country now feels doubly betrayed. While they want revenge, there are many who believe Jordan should never have been involved in bombing Syria in the first place and should end its role in the coalition.

Revenge may be satisfied with Wednesday’s executions of Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouly but some will also want Jordan to step back from its allies in the fight against ISIS.

But that’s not an option for the kingdom — either economically or militarily. The country’s own borders have been threatened — including last year when it sent Jordanian special forces into Iraq to secure the Iraqi side of its border crossing.

Jordanian forces have a long and close relationship with the U.S. military and its intelligence services have worked closely together in Afghanistan and other conflicts. The country is now such an integral part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria that to pull back on its participation would require a major reworking of how the U.S. fights — and put its own safety in question. The country is likely to quietly increase its participation in the coalition — while reminding its citizens of the reasons why it is in the fight.

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