More Unrest for Jordanian Monarchy Without Urgent Social Reforms

Popular unrest against the throne has not abated since Jordan’s King Abdullah backtracked on price and tax hikes and managed to fill his coffers with some $3bn in aid from the Arab oil states of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar, as well as on the quiet, from Israel too. (See DEBKA Weekly 805 of June 15: Bailout for Jordan has 7 Strings Attached.) Life in the Hashemite Kingdom has not returned to normal. Instead, the street demonstrations which toppled the government earlier this month have been replaced with surly civil disobedience against the throne and the king’s inner circle. Informed observers are wondering when the bitter popular resentment will burst out into open revolt and in what form. DEBKA Weekly’s sources point to seven symptoms of potential volatility in Jordan:

  1. The average Jordanian citizen does not trust the royal house and ruling institutions to lift the economy out of crisis.
  2. This mistrust is shared by all walks of Jordanian society outside the ruling class.
  3. Most Jordanians have no faith in the administrations appointed by the king. He has therefore run out of his regular palliative for allaying any outbreak of popular protest, switching prime ministers.
  4. They are all drawn from the same small pool. Abdullah has not brought young people or fresh blood into the government in Amman. He routinely fills key posts from the same select group of veteran politicians and loyalists, who are held responsible by the people for the kingdom’s economic woes. Unrest against the throne is expected to continue until young people are brought into government.
  5. Jordan’s middle class has been badly neglected in recent years and cast aside to the fringes of society
  6. Reforms are urgently needed to curtail the authority of the royal house and institute power-sharing mechanisms with civil institutions, including a representative parliament, in which the middle class and young generation have a say.
  7. Such reforms call for new legislation or even the proclamation of a new constitution.

At the present time, there is no sign that King Abdullah is taking all or any of these steps – whether for the sake of social stability or to underpin his throne’s durability.

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