Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hotels in Amman Bombed...

This hit me hard. The thought that it was unfolding as I was writing the post below is all the more ironic. But hardest of all for me is that I have stayed in Amman many times and felt safe. In fact, there are more entry/exit stamps in my passport from Amman than any other city in the world. Yes, I've known there are dangers, but they are below the surface for the most part, and if you've spent much time there, as with anywhere, you get a feeling of a comfort with the area. I haven't stayed at any of the particular hotels that were hit in this, but I know where they are, and I've stayed at almost every other 'western hotel' there.

And I'm angrier than ever.

Update: I feel I should write more on this, having been in Amman 7 times in the past year. Before I first went to Amman, I was briefed on security there. Just the basics, but at the time there had been threats to certain western elements between 2000-2004, so I was told to expect to see Intell, but that if followed that it may be hard to tell whether you were being followed by Jordanian Intell or by AQ, that Jordanian Intell was very, very, well trained and nothing to be worried over, but to be aware of, as AQ operatives liked to mimic them. But the most serious threats were to western journalists reported during those years.

More importantly, as you are hearing reported now, Amman is known as the exit and entry to 'civilization' for many westerners coming in and out of Baghdad. When I was there last, after finally getting into the city from a long delayed flight from sandstorms, a few of us got together to have some good food and drinks at a popular spot in the Shmeisani district in Amman, myself, an Embassy worker, and an Aussie that had been working in Iraq. Amman has become a place for people to connect and relax, to savor hot baths and drinks and chatter in the Abdoun district, which holds western pub/clubs, and the largest Starbucks you'd ever want to see, and it was always packed with people.

Possibly more importantly, it has become a safe meeting place for Iraqis and Westerners and the amount of conferences there involving Iraq in some way is astounding. How this will effect all of that remains to be seen, but it feels personal to me, having spent so much time there, there are a lot of emotions tied up in that city for me.

Jordanians, for the most part have been good to me, as you can see.....and I'm so sorry for everyone there.

5 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

Dunno what to make of this. Maybe it's "just" an attack like in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Or maybe they have figured that attacking soft targets in neighbouring countries is less difficult than it is in Iraq.

Crazy world.... poor victims

3:03 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Michael,

I can only tell you what I think. First, it's been warned for years. I was told not to stay at both the Radisson and the InterContinental when I first went because both had recently had similar plots foiled.
I have been to the InterContinental since then, and I have to say that the issue in Jordan is kind of tough. You can stay at an expensive 5 star western hotel for better security (the nighly rate at the Four Seasons, translated into US dollars climbs as high as $500/night at times), or you can stay in Jordanian quarters, which doesn't make your actual place a target, but certainly the amenities aren't what most westerners are used to, and you are an easier target personally if someone wanted to snatch you for any reason in this situation.

Second, I expected something after yesterday's AQ warning about Iron Curtain, they are getting shut out in Iraq slowly but surely and they are not happy about it. We know that the operation is a success when AQ starts making threats. I didn't expect this, absolutely not. But could it be connected? Yes, I think so.

Just my opinion.

3:19 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

On the hotel issue: jesus. Quite a conundrum. Of course, when your life is at stake 500US$ for security isn't much. But you gotta have good reasons to be there.

Iron Curtain: yeah, could be they are squeezed out of Iraq. And they do act increasingly desparately. Haven't heard anything yet about those two Moroccan hostages, but if they do kill them it will cost them only more credit in the arab world. Heard 150,000 Moroccans protested against AQ. Of course, it surely is a sad thing they only now thrun out, afer 4 years of carnage, when tow compatriots are threatened.

Kerry, I admire your efforts and you're looing more and more like a 21st century Gertrude Bell to me, but I find it harder and harder to feel empathy with a so fucked up region as the M.E..

I'm sorry. Guess I'm cranky. Guess I really am. Nite wherever you are. All's relatively well here. A few more cars torched all over the country, but it looks like the Belgian powder is wet and fails to explode.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

halasha!!? we miss you

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Health said...

Amman has become a place for people to connect and relax, to savor hot baths and drinks and chatter in the Abdoun district, which holds western pub/clubs, and the largest Starbucks you'd ever want to see, and it was always packed with people.

4:22 PM  

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