Thursday, June 28, 2007

Securing the Streets

Yesterday King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia arrived in Amman to visit King Abdullah of Jordan. The amount of effort needed to make this visit a safe one would be huge. Securing the streets of Amman alone was a major job and I didn’t envy the hundreds of soldiers and policemen who were in the hot sun for hours. I also didn’t envy the vast number of people who were stuck in hopeless traffic tangles in the heat either. I didn’t see any of the camels and sheep being slaughtered when the official motorcade passed by, although I know of one foreign visitor who made it a point to witness this Arab tradition of welcome for an honored guest. For me, the most unusual sight was the number of people who were walking. I have never seen so many pedestrians walking in the Shmeisani area before. The heat, normally a deterrent, was tolerated because people had no choice.

Yesterday reminded me of two other events that required immense security arrangements in Amman. One was the PNC (Palestinian National Council) meeting in November 1984 and the other was the Arab Summit in November 1987. Yasser Arafat stayed over a week chairing this historic conference of the PNC, and the Arab Summit was attended by 22 Heads of State from the Arab World. Security was such that people who lived in the Shmeisani area had special IDs and passes for their cars or they could not move from their homes. These security measures lasted for days – very long, quiet days they were as well. I didn’t see people walking and only an occasional car would go by. If I remember correctly, even the birds were silent.



Blogger Issa said...

If one King Abdullah requires security in the streets... Imagine what it will be with two King Abdullah :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007  

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