Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jordan"s Jam

al-Mamlakah al-ʾUrdunniyyah al-Hāšimiyyah!

A fakebelieve nation state concocted by those naughtiful  Imperial Brits from bit of the olde Suriya al Kubra after Imperial Deutschland gave up the ghost in the last millennium.

Since Arab Sprang sprung - ME monarchies seem somewhat immune to the riotous riots that inflict coercive regime change.

Not Little Jordan!
The Arab Spring has emboldened the opposition by eroding the deterrent effect of the notorious “fear of government” ( haybat al-sulta ) in the Arab world in general and in Jordan in particular. 

For over two years, Jordan has experienced almost weekly demonstrations, led primarily by the Ikwhan Brethren but also by other less substantial opponents of the regime. They demand political reform and decry the pervasive corruption in the country, which they argue is the major cause for the depletion of the state’s resources and the steadily declining living standards of the masses. 

At the same time, while the demonstrations continuing for more than two years reflects the perseverance of the opposition and the depth of popular disaffection, it also indicates the staying power of the regime and the relative ineffectiveness of its fractious rivals

Jordan’s present difficulties should not be underestimated. Their origins are in the rumblings of economic discontent that began in Hussein’s time,long before the Arab Spring. As HRH King Abdullah observed, "The Arab Spring didn’t start because of politics; it started because of economics—poverty and unemployment. . . . if people are going to get back on the streets, it is because of economic challenges, not political.”

The complaints of corruption on the part of the regime’s opposition are undoubtedly justified. But the real problems regarding Jordan’s economy are structural. The economy has been in serious trouble since the late 1980s and was never particularly strong, with a population growth that was too rapid for a cash-strapped and resource-barren economy. Recent price increases for food and fuel have made matters considerably worse for the average Jordanian. The most aggressive riots in Jordan, not only since the advent of the Arab Spring but since the beginning of Abdullah’s reign, took place in mid-November 2012

Demonstrations by the various branches of the opposition have been rather ineffective.Usually mobilizing no more than a few thousand protesters—often fewer—and on very rare occasions maybe as many as ten thousand, the protests have turned into what is beginning to look like a benign routine. The Brethren’s decision to boycott the January 23 elections appears to have been counterproductive. Despite their efforts, voter turnout was good by Jordanian standards:(56.7 percent of registered voters) and similar to the norm in other Arab states that have held elections in thewake of the Arab Spring. The "Slamic Centrist Party (al-Wasat aI-Islami )—moderate "Slamists who were unaffiliated with the Brethren (and who were in the good graces of the regime)—ran and did well, garnering 17 seats.

Most political analysts concluded that the Brethren were now increasingly marginalized in Jordan.

Events outside Jordan were having a mixed impact on the Brethren’s local stature. On the one hand, the prominence of radical Islamist forces in neighboring Syria was giving them “growing clout.”

On the other hand, the questionable performance of the Ikwhan Brethren in power in Egypt was not doing the Brethren’s image in Jordan very much good.The Arab Spring had initially emboldened the Jordanian opposition, but the outcomes of the revolutions in countries like Egypt and Libya, and especially the bloodbath in Syria, were horrifying to most Jordanians.
More than four hundred thousand Syrians are currently seeking refuge in Jordan, as did about five hundred thousand Iraqis before them. Spokespersons for the regime could ask what Jordanians had to complain about in their oasis of stability—which, unlike some neighboringregimes, did not have a reputation for brutal repression.In over two years of demonstrations in Jordan, fewer than a handful of protesters have been killed by the security forces, under the strict orders of the King himself not to use excessive force

The critical turning point in Jordan’s recent history was not the advent of the Arab Spring but the passing of King Hussein. Under the less capable King Abdullah the monarchy has lost prestige and popularity, as he has failed to re-create the monarchical presence of his father. But notwithstanding cracks in the edifice of the East Banker elite, the fractious opposition has yet to come up with a viable alternative. Even opponents tend to see “the Hashemite regime as the thing that holds [the country] all together.”

The situation, therefore, remains manageable.

As long as the unswerving loyalty of the security establishment lasts, the capacity of the regime to continue muddling through will depend more on its ability to deal effectively with the economy than on any other single factor, including the pace of political reform.Indeed, demonstrations in Jordan—like those against the skyrocketing prices of fuel in November 2012—have been more massive and aggressive when economic hardships have hurt most. The problem for the regime is that improving the material well-being of the people and providing for the influx of Syrian refugees are dependent on the goodwill and generosity of others, such as the IMF, Great Satan, the EU, Japan, the Saudis, and the other Gulf states, and they too are not as wealthy as they used to be. 

The Jordanians can never be quite sure whether the checks will always be large enough and whether they will arrive on time—before the impoverishment of the people overflows into uncontrollable expressions of despair. After all, it was mainly poverty, unemployment,and sheer hopelessness that set the region ablaze in the so-called Arab Spring, rather than an irrepressible urge for democracy and civil rights

Pic - "Hashemite!"