Jordan keeps fighting for democracy

This video is called Jordan protests leave several injured.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Jordan‘s MPs play musical chairs as the Arab spring rages outside

Protests have remained small and peaceful in Amman but critics say government’s lack of real reform will lead to discontent

Ian Black in Amman

Friday 11 May 2012 19.24 BST

It was only his second day in office, but Fayez al-Tarawneh, Jordan’s brand new prime minister, was already getting a hard time from the demonstrators streaming out of the mosque, shouting slogans against him, against corruption, price rises and the peace treaty with Israel.

Tarawneh – and the watching police – need not have worried: only a few hundred people turned out earlier this month to attack the government – the country’s fourth such demonstration in 18 restive months. As Syria bleeds and Egypt faces its first post-revolution presidential election, Jordan’s political elite is playing what opposition critics dismiss as “musical chairs”.

Protests, in the capital and beyond, remain small and peaceful, and state repression is mild by Middle Eastern standards. “It’s true there has not been much violence because Jordan has not yet reached the tipping point,” said one young civil society activist. “But I think it will happen.” …

Yet many doubt the king’s commitment. “The results so far show the appearance of reform rather than real reform,” argues political scientist Mohammed al-Masri. …

Blogger Naseem Tarawnah admits that he does not know whether the king is serious. “But whether he wants reform or not, he and everyone else wants stability,” he says. “If that means sacrificing reform he will do it. Stability means buying as much time as possible.”

Elections will not resolve a severe economic crisis in a country that is heavily dependent on aid from the US, the EU and Saudi Arabia. Jordan, as the wry saying goes, has a “caviar budget” when it can barely afford hummus and falafel. In 2011, 15% of the population lived beneath the poverty line. Opulent west Amman, with its smart shopping malls, palatial villas and Filipino maids, is the glittering exception. The new prime minister’s first serious crisis looks like handling a long-postponed hike in electricity prices.

Belt-tightening is risky because of Jordan’s enormous public sector – providing the livelihoods of perhaps 40% of the entire 6.5m population. …

The crisis is writ large in Tafila, a grim southern town that has seen protests by al-Hirak, a movement that expresses the “dignity deficit” that unites all the Arab uprisings. Unemployment – perhaps 30% nationally – is especially high among graduates and there is no sign of the wealth generated by the nearby newly-privatised potash mines. The arrest of tribal activists charged with insulting the monarch was an exception to the “soft containment” policy masterminded by the Mukhabarat secret police. Twenty were pardoned after elders paid homage to the king.

Topping the list of popular concerns is corruption, with a rash of unresolved cases that, it is whispered, may lead back to the palace.

Claims that the king ordered MPs to block an investigation landed one journalist in a state security court for incitement. Mohammad al-Dahabi, a former Mukhabarat chief, faces charges of money laundering, abuse of power and embezzlement – though some suspect he may be a convenient scapegoat.

“Five years ago, none of our listeners would dare talk about politics,” says Daoud Kuttab, who runs the independent Radio Balad. “Now the phone is ringing off the hook. We hear about corruption on air, on the record, all the time. There is a new public discourse about holding people responsible. In many ways the genie is out of the bottle.”

Even the king, once beyond public criticism, is coming under direct attack. Comments and caricatures posted on social media sites mock him and his penchant for Harley Davidson bikes – a savage contrast to a culture of official deference symbolised by the golden crown logo of Petra, the official news agency. Abdullah’s close links to the US and firm support for his father’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel are other weak points.

“Now young people are cursing the king and that’s a problem,” muses Laith Shubeilat, an outspoken opposition leader who urged Abdullah to change to save his throne. “We are tumbling economically and, in terms of corruption, it’s a farce.” …

Abdullah, say critics, seems to think the tide has turned in favour of the Middle Eastern status quo: factors include Bashar al-Assad’s survival in Syria, Islamist disarray in Egypt and, crucially, the lack of US pressure on Jordan. Those who reject this assessment include Awn Khasawneh, Tarawneh’s predecessor, who resigned after being blamed for moving too slowly on reform when his real crime, many feel, was reaching out to the IAF and thus falling foul of the palace and the Mukhabarat. “Spring is a seasonal thing,” Khasawneh quipped, “it keeps coming back”.

Lamis Andoni, a columnist for al-Arab al-Yom, put it more bluntly: “The regime has reached the conclusion – I think it’s a miscalculation – that it can carry on without making fundamental changes. It’s betting that the protest movement will get weaker and that it can fall back on its traditional power base of tribal leaders. It also feels certain that the majority of Jordanians of Palestinian origin will not turn against it. But the risk is that the economic situation will undermine those assumptions.”

Dozens of activists launched a hunger strike on Sunday at the Egyptian Press Syndicate’s headquarters in Cairo to protest against military rule and the continued detention of dozens of activists by military authorities: here. See also here.

10 thoughts on “Jordan keeps fighting for democracy

  1. Well, the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan has not been there for “thousands of years”. They were only brought in by the British after World War I, from what is now Saudi Arabia.


  2. 1) Syria in travail, Abdalaziz al-Khair
    2) Annan plan helps to stop violence, Haytham Manna
    3) Again, thank you for nothing!, Subhi Hadidi

    Assad is continuing his repression drowning the democratic demands of the Syrian people in blood. The Annan mission is not hindering him much.

    But it is still a large mistake to consider the peace plan as a help to Assad. This is only true for all those who want all out war and foreign military intervention instead of a revolutionary democratic mass movement.

    The victory of the democratic revolution is first of all a POLITICAL problem, not a MILITARY one. It is obvious that the Assad regime maintains some support beyond the top elite based on the fear of the minorities of a Saudi-type rule. Military escalation thus helps Assad to compact his supporters, while de-escalation, mass involvement, supra-confessionalism is key to gain consensus for the revolution which needs more time to succeed. Actually Assad and the pro-Gulf forces as siblings and as such both enemies of the revolution which need to be politically marginalised.

    The Annan plan need to be taken as a chance to expose the regime’s total refusal of any significant concession. To refuse it is superficial radicalism to cover dependence on foreign support to destroy the revolution.

    The Syrian revolution will succeed by the forces of its own people – or defeated by foreign “help”!


    1) Syria in travail
    Interview with Abdalaziz al-Khair, leading figure of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change, Syria

    Abdalaziz al-Khair was a leading member of the Communist Action Party. He was persecuted and had to live underground for more than ten years. He was arrested and tortured in 1992, sentenced to 22 years and released in 2005. In 2007 he participated in founding the “Left Assembly”, which included the Communist Action Party, the Kurdish Left Party, the Body of Syrian Communists, the Marxist Democratic Assembly and the Coordination Committee of the Members of the Syrian Communist Party – Politburo.

    Dialogue in itself is not a problem, as long as you stick to your principles. It is one method of struggle which might serve the revolution’s goal at a certain stage, depending on the balance of forces. You can sit at the negotiation table with a friend, an enemy or a rival, and remain radical and true to your goals and acting to realize them. Or you can surrender and raise the white flag on the battlefield without dialogue as well. All this has happened many times in history in many parts of the world. Rejecting or accepting dialogue is a measure neither of radicalism nor of strength or weakness. The measure and proof is in how you act and what positions you adopt at the negotiating table and away from it, in order to serve your goals in the best possible way.


    2) Annan plan helps to stop violence
    Haitham Manna, spokesman of the Syrian „National Coordination Body for Democratic Change” (NCB), in Vienna

    The NCB supports the peace plan by Kofi Annan, as for the time being there is no other solution in sight. “The main obstacle for democratic progress is the violence which has already pushed the country on the brink of civil war. We need to stop it. Only then the popular movement can develop enough power.”

    Haitham Manna reproached the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the armed groups and said that they wanted to foil the Annan plan in order to further militarize the situation and to provoke a foreign military intervention – something which is categorically refused by his own organisation, the SCB.


    3) Again, thank you for nothing!
    On a friendship that mixes poison into honey
    Subhi Hadidi

    As the Syrian regime is crushing the sons and daughters of its rival and greatest enemy – the uprising, with fire and all lethal weapons, some “friends” of the uprising around the world are scrambling against it as well, under countless flimsy banners, pretending to support it, and demanding financial and military support. In fact they do not serve the peoples’ movement as much as it pours in the regimes benefit.


  3. Woman sues bank over dress sacking

    Jordan: A Jordanian woman said yesterday that she is suing her Gulf Arab employer for sacking her because she refused to cover her head.

    Vivian Salameh, a manager at the Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank since March 2010 until she was fired a week ago, said: “I’m Christian – why should I wear something not dictated by my religion?”

    The bank confirmed she was fired for not following a new dress code, “which is a reflection of our conservative Muslim traditions and values.”


  4. For democracy, social justice, peace and national sovereignty

    1) Syria: popular revolution to avoid civil war
    2) International Solidarity Initiative with the Syrian People
    3) Endorsers


    1) Popular revolution to avoid civil war
    Preamble to the Int’l Solidarity Initiative with the Syrian People after the massacre of

    The Annan plan is not able to stop the repression and the killing ? as the last massacre
    in Houla has shown. The political responsible for this is the Assad regime as it
    continues to negate the legitimate democratic demands of the Syrian people. It is
    targeting all political expressions including peaceful demonstrations and all expressions
    of popular organisation.


    2) For democracy, social justice, peace and national sovereignty
    International Solidarity Initiative with the Syrian People

    As democratic, peace-loving and anti-colonial people we are very much concerned with the
    escalating conflict in Syria and especially with the growing international meddling which
    could lead into a confessional civil war to the detriment of the Syrian, Palestinian and
    other oppressed peoples of the world at large.


    3) Endorsers

    ? Leo Gabriel, journalist, social anthropologist and member of the International Council
    of the World Social Forum, Vienna, Austria
    ? Moreno Pasquinelli, Anti-imperialist Camp, Assisi, Italy
    ? Carlos Varea González, university professor and leading member of the ?Campaign against
    the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq? (CEOSI), Madrid, Spain
    ? Santiago Alba Rico, Spanish writer, resident in Tunis, Tunisia
    ? Nasir Loyand, foreign relations responsible of the Left Radical of Afghanistan (LRA),
    ? Atilio A. Boron, political scientist, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    ? Carlos Taibo, writer, publisher and professor of Ciencia Política y de la
    Administración en la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
    ? Gilberto López y Rivas, research professor at the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e
    Historia, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
    ? Samah Idriss, writer and editor, Beirut, Lebanon
    ? Fouad Ibrahim, democratic oppositionist from Saudi Arabia, London, England
    ? Said Shihabi, leader of the ?Movement Free Bahrain?, London, England
    ? Anton Stengl, publisher and translator, Munich, Germany
    ? Zouhaier Maghzaoui, Popular Movememnt, Tunisia
    ? Wolfgang Gombocz, retired University Professor, Graz University, resp. Corresponding
    Member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Graz, Austria

    and many more:


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