The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a leading independent research institute specializing in public diplomacy and foreign policy, has issued a short report suggesting “alarm bells are ringing for the Jordanian regime,” and arguing that “the masses could cross the fear barrier, leading to an intifada against the kingdom similar to the Arab Spring. The Jordanian public has been pushed to the wall, and it has little left to lose.”
Since last Wednesday, demonstrations have engulfed Jordan’s capital Amman and several other cities, following the announcement of a new income tax law and price hikes, in order to comply with the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund. A panicked King Abdullah II cut short a trip abroad, rescinded the unpopular economic steps and on Monday fired his Prime Minister, Hani Mulki, replacing him with Education Minister Omar al-Razzaz.
But according to Al Jazeera in Arabic, despite Mulki’s departure, protests in the vicinity of the government building in Amman and in other Jordanian cities continue.
According to the Jerusalem based think tank, “forming a new government may contain public anger, but in the end, the problems will still exist,” and “dissolving the government will not solve the crisis. Jordan has serious economic problems caused by a considerable lowering of aid from the Gulf States and a significant increase in government personnel,” this while the kingdom is hosting more than a million Syrian refugees, which helped shoot up Jordan’s foreign to at least $35 billion.
And so, the king finds himself between the rock and the hard place, facing a brewing popular uprising while, as the think tank put it, “the economic situation is terrible, and to rectify it, there is no other choice than to make painful budget cuts and institute serious reforms.”
Maj. Gen. Fadel Hmoud, Director of the Public Security Department (PSD), told reporters on Monday that security personnel have arrested 60 people who violated the law during the protests, including eight foreign Arab nationals, Petra reported. Hmoud added that some violators used weapons and fireworks against security agents, resulting in the injury of 42 security agents. Some arrested rioters were carrying “cold weapons.”
The security chief noted that the PSD last Thursday dealt with 45 different protests with 2,500 citizens, on Friday there were 171 protests with an estimated 18,500 people, and on Saturday the figure was 14,500 people who took part in 125 protests. On Sunday night, there were 14,500 protesters. Law and order violations included closing streets with parked vehicles, burning tires, and blocking roads with rocks.
Definitely sounds like an intifada.
رغم رحيل حكومة الملقي.. الاحتجاجات في محيط مبنى الحكومة وباقي المدن الأردنية مستمرة والملك يحذر من المجهول pic.twitter.com/bGuk5xzdOu
— قناة الجزيرة (@AJArabic) June 5, 2018