First Published: 2012-11-22

 

Is Jordan regime collapsing?

 

Analysts warn Jordan is in for turbulent times, more protests unless government makes good pledge to implement serious reform, stress regime is not collapsing.

 

Middle East Online

By Ahmad Khatib - AMMAN

Publicly calling for the king's overthrow is punishable by imprisonment

Jordan is in for turbulent times and more protests unless the government makes good a pledge to implement much-needed political and economic reform, analysts warned.

But they stressed that there is no fear of a regime collapse, despite calls by youth protesters angry at fuel hikes last week for King Abdullah II to go.

"We are living a real, dangerous and deep political and economic crisis," said Mohammad Abu Rumman, analyst at the University of Jordan's Centre for Strategic Studies.

"The country has managed to overcome the first wave of unusual protests but the reasons, motivations and conditions of the crisis are still around us, fed by mounting political tension, poverty and unemployment."

Violent rioting, protests and vandalism broke out nationwide last week after the government raised fuel prices by up to 53 percent, with thousands of demonstrators making unprecedented calls for the king to leave.

The unrest has killed a man and wounded 71, while dozens have been arrested and more than 100 have been charged with "anti-regime incitement, rioting and illegal gathering."

Although the Islamists took part in the demonstrations, they steered clear from joining other protesters in calling for the king to go.

The Muslim Brotherhood insists that it does not seek Abdullah's ouster.

They are demanding instead that he cancel price hikes, implement more reforms, and postpone a snap general election called for January 23, which Islamists have vowed to boycott.

Publicly calling for the king's overthrow is punishable by imprisonment, so these calls were a major departure for a kingdom that had previously been spared protests on the scale of other countries swept up in the Arab Spring.

Abu Rumman said such slogans are not those of opposition groups whose main request is for the regime to reform itself.

"These calls were an outburst of anger in the street. They are not part of an opposition strategy. Regardless of that, these protests have left deep scars in the political system and undermined its credibility," he added.

"Government policies must be changed. Officials must realise that there is a problem. Otherwise, I don't know how things will turn out."

Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur has defended the price hike, saying the decision was "unavoidable" given the country's $5-billion (3.9-billion-euro) budget deficit, and that the measure would save $42 million by year's end.

"The regime enjoys consensus and it is staying. But the days of absolute monarchy are over. If the regime fails to deal with the crisis in a wise and non-arrogant manner, problems are expected to escalate," political analyst Labib Kamhawi said.

Those who called for the king's ouster were angry and frustrated youths, he said.

"They were not organised and did not represent a political programme or have real demands. The youths were just angry," he said, expecting Jordan to be "heading towards more crises."

Economic grievances have swiftly taken on political overtones with Arab Spring protest movements.

"It is not about politics. People are simply angry. The price hikes directly affect their lives, their ability to buy bread and food," said Kamhawi.

Risk group Maplecroft warned that the recent unrest threatens stability ahead of the general election.

"Direct criticism of King Abdullah, strike actions and violence indicates potential for widespread unrest in coming weeks," Maplecroft said in a report.

"It is likely that Jordan's Islamist opposition will move to exploit the unrest generated by the fuel subsidy cuts, further undermining the authority of the authorities."

The parliamentary polls "will be damaged still further should the Islamists successfully use the unrest to galvanise the pro-reform opposition movement," it said.

Analyst Hassan Abu Hanieh believes that Islamists are not a threat to the regime.

"I think the Islamists are trying to court the regime. So far they are not heavily taking part in popular protests," said this expert on Islamic issues.

"The Islamists are committed to the rules of the game with the regime, which remains outside the danger zone."

 

Iran-backed bomb attack foiled in Jordan

Iran nuclear talks enter in final straight

Carrot and stick as ‘Islamic Sate’ seeks to win over Sunni tribes

7 Iraqis killed in accidental warplane bomb

A year after Gaza war, Shijaiyah still trying to recover

In Saudi Arabia, number of security prisoners climbs again

'Islamic State' targets Iraq town in wave of bomb attacks

Egypt arrests Brotherhood members over plot to disrupt shipping at Suez Canal

Egypt reveals number of Sinai militants killed in last five days

‘Islamic State’ seizes Syria town of Ain Issa from Kurdish forces

Crunch talks to seal Iran nuclear deal begin in Vienna

Warplanes target headquarters of Saleh party in Yemen capital

Egypt to reconsider parts of anti-terrorism draft law

Morocco journalist on hunger strike in Geneva told to return home

Near Gaza Strip, Israelis live in fear behind concrete walls

Tunisia declares state of emergency after beach massacre

After Tunisia beach massacre, tourists switch to other destinations

Deadly US raids target ISIS stronghold in Syria

Concern and grief as Britain remembers 2005 terror bombings

Iran nuclear talks: Will Ministers score diplomatic success?

Erdogan moots possibility of snap election

Coalitions of Syria rebels battle regime forces in Aleppo

Lawlessness in Libya poses real danger for Tunisia

Hezbollah backs Syria army in major assault on border city

Syria mosque explosion kills at least 25 Nusra fighters

Egypt President in Sinai after jihadist attacks on security forces

Yemen Huthi rebels ‘attack’ various areas in Saudi Arabia

No guarantee of success as Iran nuclear talks inch closer to lasting deal

Egypt ‘in state of war’ on second anniversary of Islamist ouster

Ansar al-Sharia denies killing of Abu Iyadh in US air strike

Rockets from Sinai strike Israel

Palestinians arrest 100 Hamas members in West Bank

Erdogan inaugurates public mosque in palace

Islamists form alliance in battle for Aleppo

Top Tunisian jihadist reportedly killed by US strike in Libya

Emir attends joint Shiite, Sunni prayers in Kuwait

Hamas denies involvement in Sinai attacks

4 Qaeda suspects killed in US drone attack in Yemen

'Series of errors' behind Air Algerie crash in Mali

Ankara has no plans for imminent intervention in Syria

21 killed in clashes, strikes in Yemen's Aden

GCC states vow united stand against IS mosque bombings

Palestinians protest one year after teenager burned alive

Egypt vows to wipe out 'dens of terror'

Tunisia arrests eight in connection with beach massacre