News / Middle East

    Critics of Jordan's King Bemoan Missed Opportunities

    Elizabeth Arrott
    In a changing Arab world, some question if monarchies are still relevant. For Jordanians, long accustomed to the untouchable status of their king, recent price hikes have brought the issue to the forefront.

    In recent days, some Jordanians have broken a long-held taboo - chanting attacks on King Abdullah himself.

    The protests were sparked by a cut in subsidies, meant to forestall a fiscal crisis and comply with IMF loans. But it has unleashed resentment of what some call an absolute monarchy.

    Commitment to reform questioned

    Street activists are not the only ones taking on the king. Political analyst Labib Kamhawi questioned the monarch's commitment to reform on Jordanian television, and now faces criminal charges.

    "Here the regime has no intention of of accepting people's demand for significant and serious reform because all powers are amassed in the hands of the king himself," said Kamhawi.

    For a monarchy with roots in the arbitrary redrawing of the region's map by Western nations a century ago, Jordan has been, up to now, surprisingly stable. Jordanians may complain about the price hikes, but many still profess loyalty to the king.

    King's supporters

    Mohamed Hajir, a barber, said the price rise is a burden. But he called on God for continued peace and security, and for the king to remain the ruler.

    This loyalty has helped Jordan weather the storms battering other nations in the region, including Syria, whose refugees fill camps along their mutual border.

    But some worry that the king and his advisers are squandering their strength for short-term gains.

    Parliamentary elections set for January will be a test of an electoral law some see as an attempt to undermine the influential Muslim Brotherhood.

    "They adopted this electoral system, which ended up with more polarization in our society, more sub-identities emerged in our society, social violence even," said Oraib al-Rantawi, the director of al-Quds Center for Political Studies.

    Some believe leaders also are manipulating fault lines between Jordanians originally from the region and those of Palestinian origin, who make up more than half the population.

    "It wants to make sure that the two main components of the society - the East Jordanian and the Palestinians - do not come hand in hand, unified vis-a-vis the regime," said analyst Kamhawi.

    Free speech under fire

    Kamhawi said a failure to foster unity at this precarious time is compounded by the crackdown on free speech. For young activists in particular, freedom of expression has been a key demand of protesters throughout the region during the past nearly two years of protests.

    "Short-sighted" is a description that comes up frequently in Jordanian discussions of the monarchy's approach to calls for peaceful, gradual reforms.

    "This is part of the debate in our society, but unfortunately it seems to me that the lessons of the Arab Spring are not learned well even in Amman," said al-Quds Center director al- Rantawi.

    Yet, analysts say, Jordanians retain hope, however slight, that their leaders will listen and prove the exception, rather than the rule.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous from: Jordan
    November 20, 2012 1:36 PM
    let me say that this lecherous little thieve "kinj" is finished here. and no help from anyone is going to prop him up... the slime has already fled the country... now Jordan is new Palestine.

    by: Haliss from: Netherland
    November 20, 2012 1:28 PM
    Fritz, i have to say, yours is an incredible insight!!! Arab monarchies and dictatorships can not be blamed on the US/Israel... it just can not..!! and Islam with its grotesque deformity is not the solution to the Arab aspirations... the Turks look on them like monkeys... the Iranians look on them like dogs... its only the US/Israel that respect their lives... but Islam teaches them to exploit the Western weakness of conscience... these repulsive pictures where they kiss a dead child... a child they put in harms way... and some have even killed outright for the cameras... truly despicable... but that is Islam...

    by: Fritz Hans from: Germany
    November 20, 2012 1:07 PM
    it seems more and more apparent to those who pay attention to the ugly mutations of the "Arab Spring" that the Arabs are trying to regain some elusive sense of "dignity" - to liberate themselves from the oppressions of benighted absolute monarchies... Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, you know... all the filth that the British malign influence has placed on them... I say, GOOD LUCK... but don't blame the US/Israel for your misfortunes... blame the degeneracy of Britain

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora