I don’t know why this article hasn’t been more widely noticed. Nir Rosen, a journalist for the NYTimes who is fluent in Arabic, went to Jordan and interviewed jihadis past and present, visited mosques, and generally brought back a vivid and interesting picture of what is going on there. It adds a lot of context to Israeli Gen. Naveh’s recent undiplomatic remarks about the danger to the present regime in Jordan, as well as giving a good picture of where the major players in Iraq today are coming from.
(The article doesn’t explain all the names as well as some articles do, though, so you may want to pop over to Wikipedia occasionally while reading it.)
Also, this article and Wednesday’s bombing of a major Shi’ite mosque in Iraq heighten the sense that a large civil war may be opening up in the Islamic world soon between Sunnis and Shi’ites. Governments of both stripes seem to have something to gain from it (Shi’ites to expand their realm of power into a stable base in Iraq and a “Shi’ite Crescent,” Sunnis to prevent this), and it looks like there’s no shortage of willing volunteers. A sufficiently cynical US could even use this to cover a retreat, although it would go counter to the work we’ve been (finally) doing successfully lately of building some real positive measures in Iraq.
Anyway, this suddenly much-deeper rift (after Wednesday) between Sunnis and Shi’ites is as big a deal as the Hamas victory a few weeks ago was. Middle East politics is reshaping itself Right Now; everything could change course at the drop of a (probably bomb-laden) hat. Keep your eyes on the news. (And updates from here will continue)