A shared sense of anger and revulsion was felt by the majority of Arabs earlier this week after the Islamic State published a video of the execution by burning of Muath Kasasbeh, a young Jordanian pilot. Lt. Kasasbeh’s murder sparked an overall outrage; the Syrian Government denounced ISIS and so did Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in agreement on condemning the terrorist group and the head of Al-Azhar institute. Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb called for IS members to be “killed, or crucified, or their hands and legs cut off.”
When naming any other past pan-Arabist outrage, such as Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the Sabra and Shatila Massacre and others, there are always different views regarding the issue; detractors and apologists. Yet, for the first time in modern Arab history, most Arabs seem to agree and unite when looking at this incident; the Arab world having finally found its common enemy.
The Syrian Government condemned this act of terrorism. Iran, a famous foe of Jordan and an ally of the Syrian Government, criticized the killing of the young pilot while calling it ‘un-Islamic’. Another close ally of the Syrian Government, the Shiite Lebanese political party ‘Hezbollah’, called this act ‘the most gruesome’ of many of the cruelties committed by the Islamic State. Different opponents of the Assad-regime such as Turkey and Qatar, denounced this incident and the Islamic State for they are committing an act of terrorism against the Islamic faith. They also criticized the Assad Government for allowing an extremist group such as IS to build and maintain its power in Syrian and Iraqi territory.
Not only did this sense of unity influence the larger Arab world, but it had its remarkable effect on the Jordanian public; most of whom opposed the Jordanian-American alliance against the Islamic State. King Abdullah of Jordan was in Washington at the time the video was released last Tuesday and returned to Jordan on Wednesday.
In spite of not having a large group of devout supporters in Jordan, King Abdullah was welcomed with public warmth and enthusiasm. The Jordanian public stood tall when King Abdullah gave his assertive speech addressing the incident with a promise to continue the fight against the Islamic State.
In a region that follows the example of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”, the Islamic State found itself absolutely friendless. This act of terror against Lt. Kasasbeh managed to unite certain groups of Arabs that would never unite under different circumstances.