News / Middle East

    Jordanians Protest Rising Fuel Prices

    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)
    Cecily Hilleary
    Jordanian teachers went on strike Wednesday, hours after the government increased fuel prices in a bid to qualify for much-needed international aid.  

    Prime Minister Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour announced the decision to cancel fuel subsidies – and therefore raise prices to consumers -- during a Tuesday evening TV newscast.  At midnight, the price of gasoline was raised by as much as 14 percent and cooking gas by 50 percent. Within minutes of the announcement, protesters crowded the streets in Amman and cities across Jordan chanting slogans and calling for the government’s downfall.   

    Amer Sabailah is an Amman-based political analyst who says the anger was hardly unexpected. Jordanians, who have been demonstrating quietly for months, are running out of patience.
    “The government has been ignoring the many signals Jordanian people have been sending about their discomforts, about their problems, about their recent misery,” says Sabailah.
    It isn’t just the fuel issue that incited the latest anger, says Sabailah, but the cumulative effect of years of bad policies that, he says, “have destroyed the country, destroyed the economy, destroyed the lives of the Jordanians.”  He cites high inflation, corruption and a government that repeatedly promises but fails to deliver reform. 
    “We are, in Jordan, maintaining the state, because basically the state lives on the taxes we pay.  They have so many taxes; there are even taxes that have no name.”

    • Riot police ran towards protesters who tried to gather on Interior Ministry Circle in Amman on Wednesday after subsidies in Jordan were cut. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
    • Riot police ran towards protesters who tried to gather on Interior Ministry Circle in Amman on Wednesday after subsidies in Jordan were cut. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
    • Protesters held up signs on the edge of Interior Ministry Circle in Amman. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
    • Riot police pushed back protesters angry about subsidy cuts. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
    • Protesters gathered near Interior Ministry Circle. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
    • Protesters gathered near a gas station. Subsidy cuts have led to, among other things, a sharp increase in fuel prices. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
    • Jordanian police wait on an overpass above Interior Ministry Circle. (Y. Weeks for VOA)
    • Protesters near Interior Minsitry Square shouted anti-government slogans. (Y. Weeks for VOA)

    Jordan’s economic woes

    Jordan’s population of 6.5 million has an average per capita income of about $6,000, and the country’s national debt amounts to roughly 10 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.  Unemployment, officially cited at 12 to 14 percent could be as high as 30 percent.  With few resources, Jordan is forced to rely on U.S. and European aid.  But the government says that the cutting of subsidies is necessary in order for the country to secure a $2 million International Monetary Fund loan and help bridge Jordan’s $3.7 billion budget deficit. 


    Mahmoud Al-Zawawi is the former chief of the VOA’s Arabic Service and is now based in Amman, where police were forced to use water cannons to disperse the protesters. 
    “What the government did was to announce its decision regarding the subsidies only four hours before they took place,” Zawawi said.  “Governments tend to operate under certain assumptions, that if you give people very short notice, they will not react.”
    Zawawi said the announcement should not have come as much of a surprise to Jordanians - the government has been warning the public about the pending move for months. 
    Additionally, Zawawi said that in making his televised announcement last night, Jordan’s prime minister explained that 70 percent of the Jordanian people will not be affected by the price increases because they will be paid compensation if the family income is less than around $1,100 a month.”
    In fact, under the new policy, each individual of a household consisting of six members or less with qualifying income will receive just under $100 in compensation. 
    Jordan’s King Abdullah has struggled in recent months against a growing opposition, particularly the highly organized Muslim Brotherhood, which is said to be meeting today to discuss developments.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Anonymous from: Jordan
    November 15, 2012 3:14 PM
    where is the coward "king"...? put to rule over us by UK...???

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora