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.