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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs