Thursday, March 10, 2011

Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series: Jordan

The protests in Jordan kicked off on January 7, 2011.
See the whole Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series.
Jordan comes next in chronological order. I don't remember ever reading a whole bunch about what was happening in Jordan. I was actually surprised to hear that their protests started so early in the new year. But that doesn't matter now because I am learning about what happened so you can learn too.

Basic History
Jordan's official name is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Geographically, it is located in Western Asia, though it is considered a Middle East country. Important bordering countries include: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and Israel. The capital is Amman. The population is estimated at 6.4 million people. The official language is Arabic, though Jordanians speak at least ten others.

Jordan's most recent leader is King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein. He's been ruling since 1999 when his father died. Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with representative government. He's been useful for reaffirming the peace treaty with Israel and relations with America. So at least in terms of our interests, Jordan was on point.

In terms of independence, Jordan used to be called Transjordan and under British supervision. After the supervision ended in 1946, the Transjordanian parliament chose Abdullah I to be the first king. No major fights or anything like that needed to happen. This country has had issues with Israel and the West Bank, most notable revoking the citizenship of Palestinnians on the West Bank, so Israel can't resettle them back into Jordan.

The Protests
The main causes cited as the reasons for the protests include: food inflation, wage/salary stagnation, lack of democracy, and unemployment.

Jordan has a history of persecuting journalists and activists. People who get arrested are not surprised when they get tortured by security officials. And the government officials weren't chosen by the people. That plus high food prices led to thousands protesting in the capital of Amman and other cities. They pointedly called out the government, especially the (now former) Prime Minister, Samir Rifai.

On February 1st, the early protests were responded to by King Abdullah II by firing his cabinet. He asked Marouf el-Bakhit to form a new cabinet.

The protests late in January and in February were coordinated by the Muslim Brotherhood which is active in Jordan and other Middle East countries. They got thousands of people to come out and protest and got results. They felt that Bakhit wasn't really about democracy and couldn't help usher in leader who would introduce real change.

The government has promised to end gerrymandering so constituency representation was more even. They've lifted the requirement for permission to protest. They've promised press freedoms, reduction in food prices, and salary increases. Also, opposition groups have been included in the new government that has been formed.

The protests aren't done yet. The opposition is still waiting to see how the promises are implemented.
More information can be found at,, and

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...