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."

 

Hezbollah sends message to Israel ‘conflict is over’

Jordan wants to see proof pilot alive before exchange

Iraq government vows to investigate Diyala massacre

Libyan airline suspends flights

British mosques open doors to reach out to citizens

Israel reduces energy supplies to Palestinians

Syria opposition embassy in Qatar renews passports

Women protest against Egypt police after fatal shooting

MSF withdraws help from two Sudan states

US says thousands of Somali children facing starvation

Kuwait online activists arrested 'over Saudi criticism'

Iran, Europe officials to meet Thursday in Istanbul

IS issues new deadline to kill Jordanian pilot if demand not met

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah will pay 'full price'

African Union sees no military solution to Libya crisis

Yemen powerful militia prevents fresh protest in Sanaa

Iran appoints new UN ambassador after US visa refusal

Pentagon confirms US involvement in talks with Yemen Huthis

Hezbollah missiles threaten to spark new war in volatile region

In new website, France warns would-be jihadists: You will die alone

Israel retaliates against Hezbollah attack

Can Iraqis trust their government to rebuild their country?

Sheikh Ali Salman rejects charges as trial opens in Bahrain

Protesters try to storm UN headquarters in Gaza

UN peacekeeper killed in southern Lebanon amid border clash

Kobane in ruins after symbolic blow to jihadists

Jordan bows to IS demand

Hezbollah claims attack on Israeli military convoy

Somali PM proposes new cabinet list

Syria opposition groups, Assad representatives meet in Moscow

Yemen’s Huthis free top presidential aide

French FM urges international cooperation against extremism

Clock ticking towards 24-hour IS deadline to kill hostages

Obama, Saudi king discuss IS fight, Iran

Nine killed in luxury Tripoli hotel attack

Three killed in Tripoli luxury hotel attack

UN harshly criticises Turkey for deterioration of human rights

‘Islamic State’ gives Jordan 24 hours before execution of hostages

Ex-Shebab chief urges others to surrender in first public appearance

Bomb kills and wounds three terrorists in Egypt's Alexandria

Three killed in protest against MINUSMA in Mali

Humanitarian crisis looms for thousands of families in southern Iraq

Rockets fired from Syria explode in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights

Egypt Grand Mufti condemns actions of Muslim Brotherhood

Residents trickle back to Kobane after expulsion of jihadists