The fate of a Jordanian pilot held by Islamic State has raised public pressure on King Abdullah over his country’s role in the U.S-led military campaign against the hardline group in Syria, fuelling the risk of broader discontent in the U.S. ally.
After his capture in December, militants released pictures of the young pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh being led out of the water by fighters. His F-16 jet had smashed onto the banks of the Euphrates River in Islamic State’s stronghold in northern Syria.
The images of the young, newly-wed pilot shocked Jordanians and brought home the stakes of the U.S.-ally’s involvement the war. King Abdullah has defended the campaign, saying that moderate Muslims need to combat a group whose ideology and brutality have insulted the spirit of Islam.
But in Kasaesbeh’s hometown of Karak dozens of young people protested, chanting anti-coalition slogans and calling on the King to pull out of the campaign.
“We will not be a sacrificial cow for America!” angry youths chanted last month in a city whose tribes have long been a bulwark of support for the Hashemite monarchy.