Jordan's king thrusts country to center of Islamic State warKing Abdullah II has thrust Jordan to the center of the war against the Islamic State group with his pledge of relentless retaliation for the killing of one of his pilots. The 53-year-old monarch also highlighted his personal role as he tried to shore up public support for what could be a long campaign. In video played repeatedly on state TV, the career soldier was shown in military fatigues, sleeves rolled up, as he huddled with military chiefs. In the short term, the crisis over the killing of the captive airman, who was burned to death in a cage, appears to have strengthened Abdullah. Until recently, he had been on the defensive about Jordan’s participation in the U.S.-led military coalition conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group. The public’s misgivings have been replaced by cries for revenge this week after the militants released a video showing the horrific death of 26-year-old Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. “The king is in a very strong position,” said Fayek Hijazeen, who covers the monarch for the official Petra news agency. “All the people are standing behind him.” But stepping up the pace of airstrikes could also mean more combat casualties. “This is not a cycle the king would relish,” said David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank. Others said the pounding from the air could provoke Islamic State to carry out attacks inside Jordan. In the months before the killing of al-Kaseasbeh, Abdullah had warned in increasingly strident tones of the threat posed by the militants, not just to Jordan, but to the world, and he called on moderate Muslims to take a stand. “This is a war the world cannot afford to lose,” he was to have said in a speech Thursday in Washington that was instead delivered by Jordan’s ambassador because Abdullah had rushed back home to deal with the crisis. “But to win it, all of us must be in it.” After his return to Jordan, he met with army commanders to plan a swift response. By Thursday, as he visited the pilot’s family at their mourning tent in southern Jordan, fighter jets roared overhead, having returned from bombing raids against IS targets in Syria. Full Story