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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More