Al-Jafr Air Base is a relatively desolate and deserted base. It’s smack in the middle of desert. There is not much around it, and even less in its outer corridor. But one place near it that is of consequence is Maan, Jordan. Maan, more than any other spot in Jordan, is an ISIL hotspot. Salafi jihadis are present and influencing the community there. It’s so unsafe, outsiders, both government and civilian, are asked to not even travel through Maan.
If the Jordanian guard who committed the recent shooting was radicalized, he could have been manipulated by someone in Maan. It could be a number of things. Al-Jafr Air Base is so isolated, however, the options are relatively limited. The question remains whether it was done in error or with malicious intent. The answer died with the shooter.
Politicians in Congress and other officials have supported Jordanians with a resolute stance. I support the training and aid to Jordan, personally. However, like many projects in the Middle East, events like this beg the question, “Are we wasting our time and money?” We’re losing lives and have been dealt a devastating blow by losing indispensable Special Forces soldiers. It’s a saddening and maddening event. If Jordan is our strongest ally, one who receives, arguably, the most hands-on training and attention, how’d this happen?
It’s a harsh reality, but the Middle East is a mechanism that doesn’t not have control of all its parts. It doesn’t matter what we do; we can’t change that fact. There are global trends and movements that no one person or singular effort can thwart. If a Western presence in the Middle East is rejected by the majority, should we honor that? Can we sit back as violence ensues against minorities, or are we stuck in a forever effort as these nations constantly ask us to come help? The latter is good for our standing of leadership. The equally harsh reality is that we, the United States, remain the world’s leader.