Middle East: Iran v’s Israel

Hmmmm, something to think about if and when the snow arrives. The bombing sounds I heard yesterday were in fact bombs! According to the Jordan Times it was Israel clearing mines, just shows how close we are. Also, in yesterdays paper “US Defenc(s)e Secretary Leon Panetta stated that Israel will bomb Iran in April or May or June”. Interestingly, Iran announced a pact with Al Qaeda and there was the Bangkok blast, blamed by Israel on Hizbollah, and previously there were attaches on its Embassies in India and Georgia, which I would think most were not aware of. And, in fact, on Tuesday an Israeli diplomat (female) was attached in India, the list is mounting.

There have been a sequence over years of Iranian nuclear scientists being assassinated, one assumes by you know who.

Both Iran and the US (don’t forget it is broke) are both posturing in the Strait of Hormuz – seen of battles for 1000s of years.

One wonders if the Iranian linking so publicly with Al Qaeda has anything to do with thinking of this type: Iran is vulnerable, Russia and China are unlikely to jump to its aid and the Arab world won’t they just could not get organised given the turmoil of the past year, so a pact with Al Qaeda would signal to Israel that attacks on distant and remote targets is how a counter strike will happen. This will put pressure on these remote countries to attempt to dissuade a strike on Iran by Israel.

Clearly the US administration is warning the world that Israel is serious, Israel has nuclear weapons and has never used them, I for one am nervous with the prospect that Iran may have the capacity to develop its own. Unlike the Cold War stalemate, a new type of cloud maybe about to descend.

We are in a troublesome location!


Notarisation or, if you wish Notarization

Read this if you need to go to sleep – my adventure today to get a police check clearance so I can go to Vietnam.

Reading this is therapeutic!

Here we go!

1. 9am pickup from flat by Rashid – ‘I need stamps’

2. Go to post office “we don’t sell stamps, maybe the library …….”

3. Rashid finally gets stamps at a little corner store – half a JDs
worth, made in Pakistan of all places.

4. Ring ahead to confirm location is Abdaly – no we have moved to
Jandaweel, I think for how long (possibly over night) and why is the website not updated.

5. I had phoned yesterday (10 separate calls) and got onto Major Ali – at the gate he spoke to the guard (I got his phone number) and I was ushered to a bus.

6. Moments later I was in a queue. You may wonder, why a bus – this was an army site, security tight……..

7. Various discussions took place and it turned out they had no
photocopier – need copies of my passport and residency card (I checked, not mentioned on website). But I did have the stamps and my two photos (in Mr HappyTShirt). They seemed half happy too.

8. Given a small slip of paper, in Arabic, and told to go to the addresses and get
stamped clearance (for what I have no idea).

9. Get on bus again, Rashid collects me, I give him the slip of paper, he nods knowingly and takes me via a photocopier, again in a little corner store, to the first place on the slip of paper – it is in Khalda, in a back block, it is the Criminal Services Directorate. I queue, get let in, get a ticket, wait, go to counter 1, I get a stamp!

10. Off to the next place, in the Gardens, again a little building,
this time teaming with people but I get the stamp.

11. Rashid picks me up again, back to the place in Jandaweel, get bus,
get let in, get another stamp, get a small slip of paper – ‘bring this
back in a week’ to collect clearance form. ‘Ta mate’, I say, he smiles.

12. Walk back to road, no bus, it’s about to rain (snow this weekend if your interested), Rashid picks me up, takes me to my flat, he is happy time for prayer before his next job, I give him 20JD, this is too much, ‘Rashid without you I would be ……’, time is 12.15pm –

But, wait there is more, this is just the beginning.

I now have to get the Jordan Foreign Ministry to notarise it – I’ll
attempt this after I come back from Germany in two weeks time.

But, wait there is still (much) more.

When I have done the MofFA, I have to get the Vietnamese Embassy to
notarise – and the nearest one is in Riyadh! (that is in Saudi Arabia)

I contacted the Vietnamese embassy in Riyadh by email, and surprisingly they reply, this never happens in Jordan with ANYONE- “you also need to get it notarised by the
Jordan Embassy in Riyadh before we do it”, I’m told.

With me present I think to myself.

I ask ‘do I have to be present in Riyadh’, no ‘you can get someone
else to do it for you”!

really – ‘Like who’, I have not heard back yet. Keep your eye on the
ball Andrew! (the urge to just reach out and strangle someone is taking over, resist Andrew, resist)

Maybe I will get a trip to Suadi Araba afterall! (now that is half
glass full thinking or what?)

Maybe this is too long for a FB post?? La, but I’ll put it there too, along with the other adventures linked to the other f’ing documents I have to get notarised by sundry Gov. departments spread around the globe – at this point I am thinking HOME would be good, and just stay there.

Our recent Holiday in Jordan

We started with a long drive down to Tala Bay – staying at the Movenpick resort was just the ticket!


After a three day stay we ventured up to Wadi Rum, a fantastic trip into the dessert and Cathie went on a balloon ride, resulting in some lovely pictures.


Cathie’s Pictures


Cathie’s Balloon Ride


After Wadi Rum we ventured up to Little Petra and then Dana, spending a night in each.

Little Petra


Shoback Castle and Dana


Um Al-Jimal & Poppies

We set off about 10.30am to visit an ancient basalt city that had fallen victim to the earth quakes around 600AD up near the Syrian border – the place is rarely visited and I can’t imagine why, apart from the fact it is free it is just wonderful.

On route via Jerash to Rehab and then Masraq we passed through some lovely farmland, the whole area had been enlivened by the recent rain and the poppies and other wild flowers where starting to come out – I am still searching for a Black Iris.

Poppies near Jerash

Here is a slide show of some of the flowers we found.

Umm Al-Jimal is a fantastic – get a car and go take a look.

Here is a pic of the main tower, I think it has been re-built but the walls are surrounded by collapsed ruins.

Tower Um Al-Jimal
Tower Um Al-Jimal

Some of the highlights can be seen in this slide show.


Iraq Al-Amir Handicraft Village

Todays little adventure starts at the 8th circle, we turn right and out towards Iraq Al-Amir to visit the handicrafts market, see some caves, an old Roman ruin, a Roman Aqueduct – I am pleased to say that we found all of these.

But, why is it not possible to place some very clear signs – brown ones, there is one! Anyway, if you venture out on the Wadi as-Seer road you will need to turn left onto the Iraq A-Ameer Street, which takes out to the market, if in doubt ask at the police station that you will find at an intersection – it is in the middle of the road, I think in the middle of the Wadi as-Seer township.

The markets are terrific, established by Queen Noor to provide employment for local craft makers, lovely hand made paper pieces, pottery and various other craft pieces.

About 3klms before the markets you will catch a glimps of the Aqueduct – there is a picture in the slide show.

One the hillside overlooking the markets you will find the caves, and about 1kl further down the road you will find a terrific pre- Roman Ruin called Qasr al-Abad.

The area is just outside Amman and you feel it is little changed, small farms are plentiful with pretty surrounding scenery and there are plenty of wild herbs growing: drill, some wild basil and nettles.

Enjoy the slide show.


Twinkle Toes

After a bit of a big night at the January Internations function held at the Grappa Restaurant in Amman a number of teachers and students from the Amman Baccalaureate School headed of to a refugee camp populated by people from Gaza who had been dispossessed of their land. This is not a small group of refugees and number about 35,000 and they live on the outer area of Jerash, which is about 50klms North West of Amman.

Twinkle Toes is an initiative to distribute shoes and clothing – the ABS students support the programme as part of their IB CAS committements.  We set off at 8.45am in two buses, one full of shoes, the other with us!

On arrival the buses entered a narrow lane and pull up outside some typical Jordan houses: square, flat roofed and made of cement and brick. The weather is kind, not cold and the rain has stopped. Children began to appear, smiling and with warm greetings. The bus was quickly unloaded and the shoes set out on the open roof of one of the houses.

The process is simple. Diagrams of shoe sizes one set for the boys and the other for girls are laid out on the cement surface which is still wet from the early morning rain. The plastic bags containing the shoes are placed around the perimeter – we are ready.

At first it is relatively orderly with children and their mothers or fathers queueing up the stairs to the roof. But within no time the crowd expands and there are some difficult moments on the stairway with young children crying and Mum’s getting agitated.  However, with a bit of intervention and crowd control we get most of the children fitted with a pair of shoes, socks and some clothing.

The ABS teachers and students keep cool under the increasing pressure and at about mid-day it is decided to finish up and leave the dispensing of the remainder of the  shoes and clothing to the leaders of the group – possibly this is a better way to arrange things, but desperate people are desperate.

It is difficult to comprehend the plight of this community, they have no rights and rely entirely on this type of provisioning. Apparently, Jordan does not want to grant citizen ship in the belief that come the negotiated peace with Israel over the occupied land, the Gaza refugees would be able to return to their country – this is a pipe dream and simply a very sad situation, a kind of case-22 in the craziest of senses.

Hope you enjoy the slide show!


Ma’In Refugee camp

Today I travelled with my wife Cathie and good friend Niki from the Amman Baccalaureate School, along with a number of other staff and students, to the refugee camp at Ma’In just outside Madaba. The experience was at the same time heart warming to witness the way both Cathie, Niki and all the ABS kids knuckled down and helped distribute shoes and socks to the children from the camp – it was no easy task, but also it provided a salient reminder of the problems of this region and the lack of justice in the world.

This group had been here since 1967, they are Bedouin-Palestinian’s from Bethsheba who had been dispossed during the war. They are stateless with no rights as we would understand them. The slide show below shows some of the sights. What can’t be shown is the work of the freelance journalist that accompanied the group and videoed and interviewed people at the camp – clearly a very committed person. The single picture below shows the smile on a young boys face after he had been interviewed, he was asked ‘what things would make you life better?’, he replied ‘a good school, a good clinic and lower food prices’.
A picture of hope, I hope!
The other picture of note is in the slide show and depicts the proud nature of the people, it is of a mum and dad, they were intereviewed and also showed us through their tended house – it was warm, clean and basically just like a normal home. But when you reflect on their plight you wonder if you would behave with the same dignity!

Young man of hope