An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Archives

NEWS | April 2, 2013

'Jordan First'; Hospitality, brotherhood for all

By Master Sgt. Cheresa D. Theiral Colorado National Guard

AMMAN, Jordan – A simple blue kite punctuates the sky in Ash Shajarah, Jordan; a land of rolling hills pinstriped in olive groves and tree-lined streets.

Just a few kilometers north, in Al Ramtha Governance, a man is carried on a stretcher into Jordan from across the Syrian border. He’s been shot by a sniper.

Now lying on a litter inside a medical trailer at Tal shehab Reception Center, his every breath is a guttural, agonized moan. Jordanian authorities don't yet know the man's name, but today, April 2, he is just one of more than a million civilians who have escaped the violence in Syria that began two years ago between forces loyal to the country’s ruling Ba'ath Party and opposition forces fighting to expel it.

Outside, just 20 meters away, American journalists have arrived at the reception center. Cameras in hand, they’re immediately swarmed by joyful children begging to have their pictures taken. 

"They are happy now because they are safe," said Jordan Armed Forces Lt. Col. Salah Aldraidi, who leads the 10th Border Guard Battalion at this crossing.

Back in the medical trailer, it’s unknown how long the man has been suffering from the bullet that travelled through his left leg. After quickly and efficiently dressing the wound, JAF medics transport the man dressed in slacks and a collared shirt – clothes more befitting a day in the office than escaping civil war – to an ambulance waiting outside. Emergency lights flashing, the vehicle speeds away.

All the while, Aldraidi’s soldiers are sure to provide proper Jordanian greetings when visitors arrive at the center’s headquarters. They are welcomed inside and offered coffee – the cups just big enough for a sip or two. The drink is served hot and bitter, and once consumed, a simple shake of the cup indicates that the guest has completed the protocol and is ready for the next stage of business. In this country, rich in Bedouin tradition, hospitality is a way of life.

Agape in action

On order from His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, the Jordan Armed Forces is supplying its Syrian brothers and sisters essential food, medical care and housing – and perhaps most important, the security – the people desperately need. For his part alone, Aldraidi has more than seven months experience here, in addition to previous United Nations peacekeeping tours in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, where he also worked to protect refugees.

Here at Tal shehab and other border crossings, helping refugees is an ongoing act of agape – brotherly love. National identity be damned, the border mission has always been about more than just accepting refugees – it's a moral obligation – because in Jordan, everyone is someone's child.

"The essence of love isn't just showing love to your own children. It is to show it to other people's children, as well," said retired JAF Col. Saleh Obeidat in a September 2012 interview, describing the national ethic in his country.

"We are all Arabs or Muslims. Brothers or not, we are a brotherhood," said JAF Staff Sgt. Khitam Alrefai, who, in early 2013, produced a video about the JAF's response to the crisis; a graphic reminder of the depths of human depravity. "It's painful for people here to see that. We are an emotional nation. It injures the heart." 

Not long ago, to avoid being attacked or killed by Ba'ath Party loyalists, Syrians dared to cross the border into Jordan only at night. However, as the situation in the war-torn nation continues to deteriorate, its citizens now pass through the border at all hours, as they can no longer afford to wait for the cover of darkness to escape.

At the Tal shehab Reception Center alone, JAF soldiers receive a thousand to 1,500 Syrian refugees daily, a number that has continued to grow as the desperation inside Syria increases. And now, even the most casual observer would notice the toll this mission takes on the JAF soldiers who necessarily perform it.

Intermixed with the appearance of cautious satisfaction at helping a brother, is indelible sorrow at the knowledge of what their fellow men, women and children have risked, suffered and lost, just to stay alive. At this, these soldiers don’t smile often.

The crisis

According to an April 2 United Nations situation report, more than 1.2 million refugees have fled Syria by way of bordering countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, while a few others have made their way to Egypt and Europe. Of that 1.2 million, at least a third of them have found refuge in Jordan.

On March 31 alone, nearly 9,100 Syrians refugees made their way to reception centers in Jordan. They are a small part of the approximately 470,000 Syrians who have registered or are awaiting registration as refugees. An estimated 100,000 more are undocumented. Among this total, 75 percent are women and children who are often left traumatized by their experiences in the nearly two-year-old conflict.

According to U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, in an editorial published by the New York Times March 6, the organization is receiving increasing reports of children being deliberately targeted – physically and sexually abused, and killed. He also stated that women tell harrowing stories that corroborate reports that rape is being used as a weapon of war.

To reach any measure of safety, he said, they must literally run for their lives. Yet many of these civilians, like the man who arrived at Tal shehab today, are killed or wounded by gunfire as they attempt to escape.

In remarks published April 3, Prime Minister Abdullah Nsoor announced Jordan’s intentions to declare the north part of the country a "disaster area."

Jordan First

The Jordan First principle states that Jordan's national interest is its highest priority. It aims to spread a culture of respect and tolerance, and strengthens the concepts of parliamentary democracy, rule of law, public freedom, accountability, transparency, justice, and equal rights.

But in a land already short of water resources – this mostly land-locked nation's only source of fresh water, the Jordan River and the Yarmouk River, have been subjects of ongoing disputes with Israel and Syria, respectively. Further, the Dead Sea is evaporating by a meter every year. What is a government to do with a 10 percent population explosion in less than two years?

To that end, Obeidat said that this challenge, along with the rising economic concerns associated with the sharp population increase in Jordan, will be mitigated.

"Even though their presence is burdening our infrastructure, deep inside we know we have to work with it until there is a final solution," he said. "It's not a political problem – we don't meddle in others’ affairs. The refugee issue is internal and we are doing our moral part in dealing with the consequences of the situation."

***

 

Editor's note: The Colorado National Guard and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan have been partners in the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program since 2004. The preceding story is a result of the two most recent State Partnership Program exchanges between members of the Colorado National Guard Public Affairs office and their public-relations counterparts in the Jordan Armed Forces' Directorate of Moral Guidance; a conversation that occurred in Colorado in September 2012 and a tour of a Jordan-Syria border crossing in April 2013.Biannual exchanges between the two military organizations are designed to create mutual understanding, and promote positive, ongoing communication between the partner state and nation. The State Partnership Program supports U.S. national interests and security cooperation goals by engaging partner nations via military, socio-political and economic conduits at the local, state and national level.

 
 
 
AMMAN, Jordan – A simple blue kite punctuates the sky in Ash Shajarah, Jordan; a land of rolling hills pinstriped in olive groves and tree-lined streets.
February 2024 (1)
January 2024 (3)
December 2023 (5)
November 2023 (3)
October 2023 (6)
September 2023 (2)
August 2023 (3)
July 2023 (6)
June 2023 (4)
May 2023 (6)
April 2023 (2)
March 2023 (2)
February 2023 (2)
January 2023 (6)
December 2022 (5)
November 2022 (5)
October 2022 (2)
September 2022 (7)
August 2022 (5)
July 2022 (3)
June 2022 (7)
May 2022 (3)
April 2022 (4)
March 2022 (3)
February 2022 (4)
January 2022 (5)
December 2021 (7)
November 2021 (3)
October 2021 (2)
September 2021 (2)
August 2021 (6)
July 2021 (4)
June 2021 (1)
May 2021 (5)
April 2021 (5)
March 2021 (5)
February 2021 (2)
January 2021 (3)
December 2020 (3)
November 2020 (7)
October 2020 (6)
September 2020 (6)
August 2020 (8)
July 2020 (9)
June 2020 (7)
May 2020 (10)
April 2020 (9)
March 2020 (2)
February 2020 (4)
January 2020 (5)
December 2019 (6)
November 2019 (2)
October 2019 (8)
September 2019 (4)
August 2019 (7)
July 2019 (5)
June 2019 (2)
May 2019 (6)
April 2019 (9)
March 2019 (2)
February 2019 (2)
January 2019 (3)
December 2018 (4)
November 2018 (6)
October 2018 (2)
September 2018 (3)
August 2018 (9)
July 2018 (1)
June 2018 (1)
May 2018 (1)
April 2018 (5)
October 2017 (1)
May 2017 (1)
April 2017 (2)
March 2017 (2)
February 2017 (3)
January 2017 (1)
November 2016 (1)
October 2016 (2)
September 2016 (5)
August 2016 (3)
July 2016 (4)
May 2016 (2)
April 2016 (3)
March 2016 (1)
February 2016 (4)
January 2016 (1)
December 2015 (1)
November 2015 (3)
October 2015 (3)
September 2015 (2)
August 2015 (1)
July 2015 (1)
June 2015 (2)
May 2015 (3)
March 2015 (1)
February 2015 (1)
October 2014 (1)
September 2014 (1)
June 2014 (1)
April 2014 (1)
May 2013 (1)
April 2013 (4)
March 2013 (8)
February 2013 (9)
January 2013 (7)
November 2012 (1)
April 2012 (2)
January 2012 (1)
March 2010 (1)