Jordan’s Failing Security and Xenophobia Muffles Syrian Abuse and Neglect
Siraj Davis (nsnbc) : Below is an interview with an elderly Syrian wife and mother, whose handicapped husband was forcefully kidnapped from their peaceful home, humiliatingly tied to a tree in broad daylight, and publicly whipped without interruption with several strokes of a belt. Their adolescent daughter witnessed this shameful unjustifiable tragedy. Insult to injury, the ‘unbiased’ Jordanian government sought ‘compromise’ with no criminal prosecution against the landlord who committed this unconscionable offense. She is one of seven Syrian families victimized by this same landlord in Salt, Jordan.
The tumultuous civil war in Syria has had detrimental repercussions upon calm neighboring nations. The massive influx of fleeing Syrians and the protracted conflict against Daesh, questions the volatility of Jordan’s security. The answer is it has gotten severely worse. An augury was the shocking arrest in July of a Jerash man stashing 40 kilos of explosives.
Preceding this, there were portent signs when the Jordanian media attempted to Baghdad Bob the security problem with non-astute logomachy, when in gossamer fashion describing the arrest of ‘fugitives’ or ‘criminals’ with hand grenades, high powered automatic weapons, and foreign designed RPGs in the city of Maan , Jordan within the same month.
Then in March, for the first time in my five year stay within the Hashemite Kingdom, Daesh openly exchanged fire with security forces – killing an officer- in Irbid. Recently this month, Daesh surprised and embarrassed the Jordanian mukhabarat (intelligence), by overpowering allied troops and unexpectedly taking the northern border of Jordan and Southern Syria (publishing a photo of themselves at the border between Jordan and Syria on social media. In these circumstances, the Syrian voice is stifled underneath the mainstream spotlight of Jordan’s War of Terrorism narrative.
The deteriorating security concerns above amalgamated with a proliferating Nazi regime substance N type anti-American sentiment (due to Islamophobia in the West, wars in the Middle East, and an unresolved Palestine/Israel issue) and emetic Jordanian xenophobia against Syrians in consequence to a lingering unemployment and deteriorating economy; has made Jordan subtly dangerous. Most definitely, with the closing of the Muslim Brotherhood office this week, and more, something horrible is inevitably going to occur. Syrians are now trapped and marginalized in the above manifestations of a failing Jordanian security. Additionally, Syrians are twice victimized, as they are stigmatized as potential terrorists by governments and victimized by discrimination from the Samaritans in their Hashemite refuge. A growing proportion of the Jordanian population today, are blaming Syrians for all that has negatively transpired with the economy and security of Jordan.
During numerous interviews with Syrian victims within Jordan, the systematic abuse and tacit neglect against Syrians were obviously increasing. Something dangerously worse and more malicious was also materializing in interviews. The Jordanian government was refusing to append crime statistics in Jordan, by ignoring Syrian complaints. Even worse, some in the government commenced intimidating Syrians to remain silent upon abuse and discrimination. During one interview, a Syrian victim’s son from the third family of the seven Syrian families victimized by the same landlord was arrested early the following morning after the previous day’s interview, by civilian clothed individuals (Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch participated in this interview). Afterwards, the remaining terrified four Syrian families after initially agreeing, refused to participate in any interviews. It is unknown what has occurred to this woman’s son still.
This systematic abuse and neglect, such as what occurred above, doesn’t fall entirely on the Jordanian government’s lap though. Such tragedies as the above two videos in this article were enabled because the Jordanian media , schools, and NGOs have disgracefully failed to raise awareness upon these drastic transformations and blatant violations of Syrian rights. The tenant/landlord experience is an exorbitant and occasionally exploitative tribulation for some Syrians. There is a dearth of Jordanian media publications on this, education programs to deter it, or laws enacted to protect Syrians from it. I’ve witnessed greedy landlords persistently-within five years residing in Jordan- quickly raise rent prices with every influx of new refugees arriving in Jordan. Despite what NGOs state, it is not because of limited capacity. Anyone within Jordan may take a brief drive around the cities and count the empty buildings and apartments. Plenty!
It is because corruption is still a pernicious endemic norm while international aid is still not more forthcoming. And despite being the land of the prophets, exploiting defenseless victims of conflict is not perceived as something shameful by a disturbingly large sector of society. Also, the tightwad ambivalent government of Jordan is cautiously waiting for more funds –which like the Bermuda Triangle mysteriously becomes less every time shipped to the Levant by the Jordan shipping route- from the international community and United Nations -while simultaneously attempting to determine if Syrians will remain long term- before completing building projects slowly being constructed now. For example, in 2015, there was a six month freeze on residential projects for refugees and afterwards NGOs were told to not fund any new housing projects. Finally, the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, is carefully watchful of a possible security implosion within the kingdom and has buckled to the Jordanian xenophobia and corruption by lauding the Jordan Response Plan. This strategy amalgamates “short term humanitarian, and longer term developmental responses” between Syrians’ and Jordanians’ future aspirations into one. It is not an action of altruism meeting the exigent needs of languishing Syrians. On the contrary, this prevaricating concoction is a COIN strategy of demonstrating to the selfish Jordanian constituents that the refugee influx may be a beneficial plus for Jordan, rather than an enervating burden. By using international donations to both help Syrians and push forward with Jordan’s development and infrastructure. In other words, Syrians’ miseries and misfortunes, may be Jordan’s happiness and opportunities.
Regardless of the determinants behind the Syrians’ misery in Jordan, the conditions of urban housing for Syrians outside camps are horrible and not mentioned enough. They dwell in old unwanted apartments, some without basic amenities as water and electricity, and also very overcrowded. This increases chances of physical and verbal confrontations, and sexual exploitation, according to female Syrians. Additionally, Syrians must pay for wear and tear of already old furniture and used electronics in furnished housing. Syrians are given the worst housing as well, yet pay more in rent than Jordanians . Also their rights as a refugee/tenant is precarious, a joke! As the videos included in this article highlights. Many Syrians strongly complained of paying unjustified fees, physical abuse and assaults, regular insults, and even being removed expeditiously from their dwelling upon the tiniest of nuisances without evidence. Worse, one interview revealed -in an uninvestigated and unconfirmed case- a Syrian child was held ransom for late rent.
It is transparent that despite foreign military financing, Jordan’s security is worsening. Its economy seems to be increasing in GDP annually, yet as with Porifiro Diaz’s regime in Mexico, that isn’t trickling down to many poor Jordanians and Syrians who are angry at the king now. As with Diaz’s government, the cause was and is today, corruption And yet again, the Syrian narrative of struggle and victimization is cruelly muffled by the royal dog trainer melodramatically cadging the West in his crusade against ISIS, while puppy-faced and holding his hands out for donations to support the dichotomy of war and the Jordan Response Plan.
It is hopeful more will be done to focus on the issue of tenant rights and housing for Syrians. Yet it is honestly unlikely. If the neglect of citizenship and adequate housing toward Palestinian refugees lingering in camps such as Jerash for half a century, has been denied due to the political ambition of a right to return, it is likely to be the same for Syrians. Especially since Syrians have a home to return to, unlike Palestinians. It is my prediction that the inhuman treatment and dishonorable neglect and daily growing number of Syrians in Jordan will become the Achilles Heel, unless addressed more seriously. The economic and political conditions of both Syrians and Jordanians haven’t been improving, security is decreasing, the Syrian population is still rising despite comprising 20% of Jordan, and by intermarrying the Jordanians and Palestinians are slowly surpassing governments’ propaganda of Syrian terrorists and identifying more with the Syrian plight. It doesn’t look good. But, it’s a human phenomenon in history. While residing in the Middle East for six continuous years with prior knowledge of the history of this region, I’ve discovered that:
The historiography of the Middle East and the Holy Land can not be completely fathomed without viewing it from a refugee’s perspective. Major prophets of antiquity were all refugees. And today in a tit for tat hot potato game between ethnicity and religions and nations-since the origin of this region’s history-the refugee plight is a continuously over-looked, yet palpable reality. Each victor for the time and present, completely effaces or ignores or manipulates the perspective and history of the refugee. One day’s victor, is another day’s refugee. And thus, peace is an incomprehensible language in this region.
Siraj Davis, nsnbc – 19.04.2016 – After being exiled from Jordan by orders of the Jordanian intelligence for Mr. Siraj Davis’ pursuit for employment and refugee rights, he is now in Erbil , Kurdistan teaching Japanese and World History at the American International School and teaching the Peshmerga English in the summer. Holding a Master of Arts, History, he intends to return to Japan to finish his PhD in 2018.