Friday, November 11, 2005

Amman sense of humour...

Background- the new king recently renamed most of the Amman streets. Most streets now have a commonly used name, an old official name, and a new official name.

The main street has traffic circles, in Arabic "doowar". One says a thing is at "the first circle" (doowar al-awal), "the fifth circle", etc.

The target hotels were near the third circle.

The joke is that the third circle will be renamed...

" doowar al-Kaboom ".

Bomb reaction at Lawrence's castle...

Went to the desert castles and then Azrak today. Azrak was for a short time Lawrence's headquarters in 1917 and has a 3 ton stone door, which I could still swing open and closed.

The guide's son is 17. He told us that when he sits his national examinations later he hopes to score well enough to enter the military academy "to fight to stop these people".

Jordanian flags everywhere. Maybe the flag industry arranges these outrages?

Weather is clear and 45-65 every day.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Amman wedding party murder details...

Turns out the martyr who blew up the wedding actually pushed his way into the group.

They weren't collateral damage, they were the goal.

Allah akbar!

A very good question from Claire-"*who* was in that wedding party?" The answer is, nobody in particular. Weddings are a big deal here, and families often schedule wedding parties for big hotels. The night when there is NOT a wedding party- with traditional musicians and dancing- is fairly unusual. There's no indication that there was targeting of anyone in the group personally, for who or what they were. The murderer was trying to make the point that he and his ilk were after "innocent civilians".

To Azrak tomorrow, then to dine at the Royale.

Amman demonstrations...

Demos in Amman at the murder sites. Lots of pictures of the King.

Little interest in the root causes or in understanding points of view. Surprisingly, the demonstrators lack nuance or subtlety. The simple brown folk are just angry at the MURDERERS. They need Chomsky, quickly!

Fun jihad fact- we all know that corset bombers fire their heads straight up. Did you also know that the martyr's noggin has enough velocity to punch right through a ceiling?

New Amman bomb...

Local gossip is that at least one more bomb has been found, destined for the Meridien.

At least the Royale was spared, they have the best cashews...

Now, out to the streets!

On the Amman streets...

I went out for a walk in Sweifiyeh this mid day. The streets are not apparently any less busy, and the people seem subdued, more intense but unfrightened.

Of course it's difficult to tell with them, because I don't speak Arabic. And 2 Arabs saying hello is about like 4 Englishmen having a fistfight, restrained they aren't.

Three people have come up to me to find out if I am "Ameriky". All have expressed anger at the murderers and solidarity with the free. They have been at pains to point out that "This is not Islam."

I'm told downtown is very subdued, mourning has been declared and many places are closed. MUCH police and security presence.

A morning walk in Amman...

I went out for a walk this morning. Alas it was too early, no one was out on the "Arab street".

I will be walking again about 10.30 along Sa'eed al Mufti street south of the 6th circle. Green shirt and faded black jeans, spectacles if anyone wants to take a more specific shot.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Amman pulling together...

The telephone is ringing off the hook, neighbours knocking on the door. All checking on my host's safety, and cursing the killers.

The historian in me recalls that for 3 years it was the declared and specific intent of the British, and the undeclared but desired goal of the American, air forces to break German and Japanese civilian will by terror bombing. These bombings continued almost daily, randomly killed hundreds of thousands, caused unimaginable suffering, and smashed economies.


Dream big, Zaqarwi.

Oddly enough,

I had just returned from Damascus and was discussing dinner with my host in Swefiyeh, an Amman suburb. We had planned to dine at a restaurant in one of the hotels. Unfortunately, the Stalin inspired Syrian customs delayed my return for an hour, so it was by then too late for us to bother to go out.

That was at 8.30. Secretary Rice and I now share the experience of directly receiving a very loud message.

Tomorrow I will continue with the day as planned, having a dental cleaning. The coombes of Somerset don't frighten me, I'm CERTAINLY not running from Zaqarwi's addled human bombs.

Here I am in AMMAN...

Yes, have been for the past week, doing all sorts of interesting things. Including dining at a hotel and watching a marriage reception. On November 8...


This is terrible but not unexpected. Jordan has for a long time been a seeker of peace and tolerance in the middle east. That makes us a target, and many attempts have been foiled.

This is typical of our loser enemies, blowing up happy wedding parties. Big heroes.

Jordanians, like the people of the U. S., Australia, and other targets, are stronger of heart than the small and evil men who hate the human love of peace and liberty. They will survive and triumph over the enemies of civilisation.

More later.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Alert!

Today I rode the train from the terminal of the Atlanta airport out to my gate. Standing on one side of me in the train was a USMC Lieutenant Colonel, and on the other side was La Sheehan. YES, it was her, ankle tattoo confirms identification.

No entourage, no press, no nothing. Looks like the 15 minutes are over.

I have always said that I'm in no position to judge how another should react to the loss of a child. I consider that she was driven crazy (crazier?) with grief, at least I hope that she did what she did out of madness rather than ego.

She did just look tired and pathetic. I hope that she can find peace, she is still a gold star mother.

The Marine officer didn't recognise her, and was amazed when I told him after she got off the train.

I LOVE travelling with a tv-be-gone, I can turn CNN off at will.

Now I travel onward, to the world of sand and camels.