The Jordanian Prisoner Executions vs. Extra-Judicial Killings

After the brutal murder of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh at the hands of the sociopaths of Daesh, King Abdullah of Jordan has begun to fulfill his promise to execute prisoners in retaliation.

Ordinarily, we (and international law) would condemn retaliatory killings. It should be noted however, that those prisoners executed were in fact already facing death sentences. Jordan’s judicial system may not have the protections of our own, but by the standards of the region, it is a good deal more just than those of failed states such as Syria or other autocratic regimes where the whim of a despot determines guilt or innocence.

Keep in mind that the death penalties were delayed, partly so the condemned could be used as bargaining chips. Jordan in fact was attempting to negotiate the release of their pilot via a prisoner exchange. With his murder, obviously the prisoner’s value as a negotiating chip plummeted.

Ask Skipper notes that Lt. Kaseasbah was doomed the moment he was captured, and that his value to Daesh was as fodder for information operations. As repulsive as we find the stream of brutal videos and pictures flowing from the region, we should remember that we are not the intended audience. The propaganda is targeted both internally to their own fighters, and as a cautionary tale to those Arabs that are fighting them. And the brutality of Daesh may be having its desired effect.

Shortly after Lt. Kaseasbah’s plane went down, the United Arab Emirates quietly suspended operations for fear of losing its own pilots.

What will be interesting to see in the coming days is what further actions Jordan takes.

US Troops in Jordan

It’s been in the news a couple days, but been mostly kept pretty quiet that the US is sending troops to Syria’s neighbor, Jordan.

Patriot missile batteries are being deployed, along with a squadron of F-16s. Most significantly, a Marine Expeditionary Unit has also landed in Jordan.

Now, the bulk of this is in conjunction with a planned exercise with the Jordanians. Over the last decade, there have been any number of similar exercises.

But it strains credulity to think that the nasty civil war just over the border in Syria has nothing to do with this. There has been a great deal of concern that the war may begin to spill over to other nations in the neighborhood. Of course, Syria, Hezbollah, and all the usual players would love to see Israel get knocked around some. And various shots have been taken at Lebanon as well. Jordan, a relatively stable (and Western friendly) nation has so far not been drawn in.

As the CNN article notes, the Jordanians would like the forces to remain in place after the conclusion of the planned exercise, as a buffer and bulwark against any expansion.  Whether that applies to the Marine MEU is unknown.

Normally, we’d say a single MEU and a single squadron of F-16s is a pretty small force for anything more than a show of force. But given the current administration’s bent for making poor strategic and military decisions, we just don’t know.