Jordanian dictatorship, Washington’s ally

This video is called Jordan protest 25 March [2011] Zaid al Khawaldeh, Part 1.

By Jean Shaoul:

US-backed monarchy loots Jordan amid continuing protests

6 September 2011

Last January, angry protesters took to the streets of Amman and other towns and cities in Jordan to demand an end to rising prices, unemployment, nepotism and corruption, and to call for political reform.

Protesters wanted a government elected by the people and accountable to them, with curbs on the powers of the king, the intelligence service and military courts. Small demonstrations and protests have continued, although largely unreported, on a weekly basis.

Jordan was carved out of the former Syrian province of the Ottoman Empire by British imperialism in the aftermath of World War I, as a frontline state to defend Britain’s strategic interests in the oil rich region. It would be ruled by the Hashemite family from the Hejaz in what is now Saudi Arabia. The Hashemite monarchy has from the very beginning been dependent upon aid—first from Britain and, since 1957, from the United States. Washington currently provides almost half the state budget.

Since 1998, and particularly since the Iraq war, US aid—both economic and military—to Jordan more than tripled, from $223 million a year to $912 million in 2008.

These are only the baseline figures, moreover. There are several other means by which the US Congress can and does provide aid to Jordan’s King Abdullah. Last year, Congress endorsed $150 million in supplemental aid, which, according to the Jordan Times, boosted total aid from all sources, including aid from the Gulf States and the European Union, to $1.3 billion.

Such “aid” has nothing to do with economic development. It is to offset some of the costs of suppressing the Palestinian people and supporting the US war in Iraq, which had a disastrous impact on the Jordanian economy. Nearly one million Iraqis fled to Jordan. The country also acts as a hub for Washington’s extraordinary rendition programme, and latterly sent security forces to help suppress the uprising in Bahrain.

While Jordan maintains that there are no US military bases in the country, it is known that Washington has secretly deployed thousands of troops on Jordan’s borders with Iraq and Syria. Its embassy, in an upscale suburb of Amman, is a military fortress directing activities in the region. Just photographing it can lead to arrest.

The full extent of aid to Jordan is not published. Were it known, a recent article in Jordan Business noted, it would prompt questions as to where it all goes.

Since the advent of the Arab Awakening, and the subsequent spotlight hovering over Jordan, one of the most frequent questions I get asked by foreigners interested in what’s going on here is the taboo of criticizing HM King Abdullah. I’ve found this question to be quite curious as it indicates that even non-Jordanians who are observers of local politics have perceived a shift in tone. It may go without saying that one of the advantages that has presented itself amidst this year’s regional upheaval has been the breaking of taboos and red lines. In Jordan, the monarchy has always been the ultimate red line. I’ve actually seen people get away with insulting God in this fairly conservative country, but avoid even a shred of criticism of the King: here.

10 thoughts on “Jordanian dictatorship, Washington’s ally

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  3. Electricity workers in Jordan begin indefinite strike

    Workers at the Central Electricity Generating Company (CEGCO) in Jordan began an indefinite strike Tuesday in pursuit of better pay and benefits. The firm is the largest power generator in the country and runs seven power generation plants nationwide.

    The Electricity Workers Union (EWU) said it had previously agreed a deal with CEGCO, in which the firm would increase pay and benefits.

    The EWU president Ali Hadid told the Jordan Times, “Before going on strike, we accepted this amount because we did not want to go on strike. Now, we have new demands”.

    The company said, “We offered to distribute half the money this year and give the employees the second half next year in accordance with the new system, but the union refused”, he stressed. Management is seeking to tie any new pay deal to productivity increases.

    Whilst authorising a strike, the union has organised it on the most limited basis, with the main aim of keeping CEGCO from being shut down.

    Hadid told the Jordan Times that only day shift workers were involved in the strike and that night shift workers would be working all day to ensure no power outages.

    He said, “The night shift can handle the whole job because it consists of 35 employees and the group can handle the pressure of the work”.


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  5. U.S. Military Chief In Jordan Ahead Of Large-Scale Exercise

    U.S. Department of Defense
    April 22, 2012

    Dempsey Meets With Jordan’s Defense Chief, Moves on to Afghanistan
    By John D. Banusiewicz

    KABUL, Afghanistan: Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met today with his counterpart in Jordan’s capital of Amman before flying here for the second leg of an overseas trip.

    The chairman and Lt. Gen. Mashal al-Zaben, Jordan’s defense chief, discussed regional security issues.

    “Jordan is one of our most important non-NATO allies, and they’ve been actively involved with us in Afghanistan,” Dempsey told American Forces Press Service during the flight to Kabul…

    Jordan and the United States have an enduring partnership that includes exercises and exchanges, the chairman said, citing the upcoming Exercise Eager Lion 12 as an example. The exercise will bring together more than 8,000 participants from more than 15 countries over five continents. Its focus is to strengthen military-to-military relationships of participating partner nations through a joint, whole-of-government, multinational approach, Dempsey’s spokesman, Marine Corps Col. David Lapan, said yesterday in Amman.

    In his meeting with Zaben, Dempsey said, the two military leaders also discussed the Jordanian perspective on the situation in neighboring Syria.

    Upon arriving in Amman yesterday, the chairman had a series of meetings with U.S. Embassy officials and took time to meet informally with service members stationed in Amman.


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