News / Middle East

Jordan Protests Take Aim at King

Protesters near Interior Ministry Square in Amman, Jordan shouted anti-government slogans on Wednesday. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
Protesters near Interior Ministry Square in Amman, Jordan shouted anti-government slogans on Wednesday. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
Setareh Sieg
Angry Jordanians, fed up with economic constraints that have led to higher gas prices, took their ire out on their king in recent days in mass protests - a rare public display against the monarchy.

The protests in Amman are of great concern to the West, where King Abdullah is widely seen as the guarantor of stability - not only in Jordan, but in the tense Middle East. Protestors have different concerns, however, according to political analyst Labib Kamyahi.

“The issue is the silent majority which is the crux of the opposition in Jordan. A lot of people are not happy and they are angry - they are secular -  and most of their resentments come from economic hardships and corruption in the country. Also people are very upset at - if they want to read the future it is doom and gloom,” said Kamyahi.

Related video by Elizabeth Arrott in Amman


As political change has rolled through the Middle East, Western observers assumed Jordan would remain unaffected. Increasingly, that opinion seems short-sighted.

King Abdullah has fired four prime ministers in the last year and has backed an election law that reduces the independence and influence of opposition parties. His popularity is diminishing as popular protests grow.

The main problem is economic. These latest demonstrations were sparked by cuts in government subsidies for basic goods including gasoline - cuts demanded by the International Monetary Fund. Prices are rising quickly, plunging many Jordanians into economic crisis.

With Washington watching closely, the king has promised political reforms to mute internal criticism. But so far they have been little more than cosmetic.

“It’s like they swallowed the reform program initially and they produced it in a modified form that did not satisfy the ambition of the Jordanian people, especially when it comes to the two issues of corruption and democracy. On these two fronts the regime failed miserably,” said political analyst Labib Kamyahi.

And that failure has left the door open for the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, whose street level social programs have created a strong constituency among the poor. The government publicly calls them irrelevant, yet keeps a close watch.

The Deputy Head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Zaki Bani Rusheidi, said that group wants reform, not an overthrow of the regime - but warns that the Brotherhood cannot be ignored.

“We are for freedom of religion, opinion, pro-democracy. These are our demands, whether we are a majority or a minority in the parliament. The West’s interests lies with the people, not with dictators,” said Rusheidi.

Abdullah clearly is facing a growing backlash at home. And at a time of great upheaval in neighboring nations, there also is increased worry in the West about Jordan's future.

Photo Gallery: Jordan Protests

  • Muslims gathered for Friday prayer in central Amman, Jordan, November 16, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Lead by the Muslim Brotherhood, protesters chanted anti-government slogans, taking on King Abdullah for the first time since the Arab Spring revolutions swept across the Arab world, Amman, Jordan, November 16, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Jordan has been relatively insulated from the Arab Spring, but on Friday protesters called for the country's King Abdullah to step down, Amman, Jordan, November 16, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Friday's protests were for the most part peaceful, though there were some skirmishes with Jordan's security forces, Amman, Jordan, November 16, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • At one point, protesters tried to break police lines on Friday but the two groups came to an understanding and the protests remained peaceful, Amman, Jordan, November 16, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A small group of supporters of King Abdullah and the late King Hussein chanted from a distance at the larger crowd of anti-government protesters, Amman, Jordan, November 16, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)

You May Like

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yamani from: Yemen
November 18, 2012 1:53 AM
sorry for error, I meant clever not cleaver

by: Yamani from: Yemen
November 17, 2012 3:53 AM
King of Jordan has to be cleaver and he should not behave just like Syria's president, he has to make immediate reforms that satisfy People of Jordan. Any delay is not preferable.

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