Issue 173, Spring 2005
Note: In 1987, Charles Glass’s journey through Greater Syria from Alexandretta in southern Turkey to Aqaba on the Red Sea for his book Tribes with Flags ended halfway when kidnappers abducted him in Beirut. A few days after the September 11 2001 attacks, he went back to finish the trip—in reverse, from Aqaba to the spot on Beirut’s coastal highway where Hezbollah took him.
After a long walk and many stories of Moses, Moabites, Edomites, and Nabataeans, my guide, Ahmed Amrin, took me for coffee in a small park. Tall, thorny and mangled trees, called sidr in Arabic, shaded the garden. Mr. Amrin and the café’s owner, Bassam Abu Samhadana, both came from Kerak. In the center of Jordan, Kerak was known for a magnificent crusader fortress that the Muslims had conquered centuries ago. Mr. Amrin had served in the Jordanian army, which included military studies in Britain, before moving to Aqaba to become a tour guide in a country without tourists. His colleague, Mr. Abu Samhadana, opened a…