Jordanian Protests

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The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an Arabian country situated in the Middle East, which includes a territory of Palestine, worshiped by the three world’s great religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as their Holy Land. This country is located on the east from the Jordan River and shares borders with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Israel. Jordan became known as the kingdom by reason of the division of West Asia after the World War I by the United Kingdom and France. Only in 1946, Jordan gained its sovereignty from Great Britain as the Kingdom of Transjordan, but after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jordan seized the West Bank of the Jordan River, and its ruler Abdullah I became a King of Jordan and Palestine. According to it, the country was called as the Kingdom of Jordan, and is a constitutional monarchy of medium human development under the 2011 Human Development Report. It has an emerging market economy, which is the third one among Western Asian countries or the thirty-second freest economy in the world under Country Rankings on Economic Freedom. In addition, Jordan is a member of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area and possesses an advanced status with the European Union.

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As Hatinger states, Jordan is one of the founding countries of the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (5). From the very beginning of the existence of the Kingdom of Jordan, it had to solve territorial problems with neighboring states as Israel and Syria, remaining a reliable ally of the United States. Thus, in 1991, Jordan took part in the Madrid Peace Conference to eliminate hostilities with Israel, and a historical Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty was signed up in October 1994. Jordanian King Hussein was considered a great personality of the world scale. He was honored in Israel, the United States, Europe, and in the countries of the Arab League. After this, the United States allotted hundreds of millions of dollars every year to help with its economic problems and established a free trade zone for Jordan goods manufactured from Israeli materals. It had lasted till September 1997, when international relations with Israel were damaged as the result of poisoning Khaled Meshal, a Hamas leader, to liberate political prisoners.

The next Jordanian King, Abdullah II, succeeded the crown in 1999. He made reforms to increase investments, improve partnerships, and establish Aqaba’s free trade zone and the Jordanian information and communication technology sector. It doubled Jordanian economic growth to six percent under the International Monetary Fund data. He negotiated to improve free-trade agreement with the United States, considered to be the first American agreement concluded with an Arab country under the data of the Press Secretary of White House Office. During the period from 2001 to 2003, Abdullah II passed 110 laws, but only two of them concerned elections. The laws reduced the power of Parliament. In 2005, Abdullah II proclaimed to turn Jordan into a democratic state, but actually, Jordan remained a country with a monarchical regime, which limited the development of democracy. In November 2010, Jordan conducted elections.

After the Jordanian protests, which started on January 2011, Abdullah II formed the National Dialogue Commission dismissing the prime minister. New prime minister had to start political reforms, improve democracy, and solve social problems of Jordanian citizens. Moreover, the King told to make revisions of the national laws for public freedoms. The Jordanian protests were against corruption and unemployment, as state Kadri and Bronner in their article “Jordan’s King Dismisses Cabinet as Tremors Spread through Region”. At the same time, the Jordanian people demanded real political reforms to establish constitutional monarchy with electoral rights. As Yadhi and Clark state, peaceful demonstrations started “against the rise of commodity prices and unemployment in the southern town of Thieban, the protests spread to all Jordanian cities and soon evolved into demands for political freedom” (236). As Spindle states in his article “Jordanians Call for End to Monarchy”, by November 2012, protestors had already demanded the abdication of Abdullah II to put an end to the monarchy.

The Jordanian protests emerged on the ground of inflation and corruption. In addition, people gained different salaries for the similar job performed in different enterprises, and nobody wanted to solve that problem. At the same time, children of Jordanian noblemen inherited privileged social position and received governmental posts because of their parents’ meaningful relationships. Children from poor families were doomed to live in need or leave Jordan to seek for a better life. The same situation was in other Arab countries, which provoked the Arab Spring in the form of Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions and protests in Syria, Yemen, and other countries. According to Al Jazeera, on December 2010, inflation in Jordan rose by 6.1 percent, unemployment increased to 12 percent, and people living in poverty comprised 25 percent of the whole Jordanian population. In addition, large taxes for the working class made the social situation in the country unbearable.

On August 2010, the Jordanian government passed a Law of Informational System Crimes for restricting the rights on information via the Internet. Peaceful demonstrations and meetings were also prohibited. According to Human Rights Watch, Jordanian policemen used torture and impunity in prisons (16). They used torture for gaining recognitions of blame from suspects. Therefore, on April 1989, the first mass protests emerged in Karak and other towns in the South of Jordan. It was April uprising for democratic life. In 1996, there were bread riots in the same region of Jordan. According to Wiktorowicz, on late September 2000, “dozens of anti-Israeli solidarity protests erupted throughout the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” (187). They emerged under the influence of intifada because a lot of Palestinian families live in Jordan. Moreover, they were considered to have their native land in Jordan after leaving the territory on the West Bank of the Jordan River.

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