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Jordan’s Secular Opposition: Plan B for Jordan

Monday, June 10th, 2013

PROTESTS IN JORDAN

For the last two years, Jordan has been witnessing regular protests calling for reform, with some demanding the king give up his powers. [1] On November 15, 2012, massive protests broke out in Jordan after the Jordanian government, in compliance with the requirements of the International Monetary Fund, raised fuel prices. Protests, as The Independent noted, swept the country, “with most chanting for toppling the regime” despite the fact that protesters had previously “rarely targeted the king himself.”[2]

For the first time, the Palestinians engaged fully in the protests; As Al-Jazeera reported, Palestinians, including those from refugee camps, have been fully involved, [3] calling for toppling the regime in most of their major residential areas, including the Al-Baqqa refugee camp [4], the Al-Hussein refugee camp, close to downtown Amman [5] Douar Firas [6], Jabal Al-Nuzha, [7], and the Hitteen refugee camp [8].

The Palestinians’ full engagement “came as a surprise” according to Al-Jazeera [9], which noted that protests have swept “across the width and the length of the country,” with “most chanting for toppling the regime.”

Tensions were also high in Jordan’s Northern regions and the Southern tribal city of Kerak. [10]. Protesters broke down taboo barriers and even went as far as calling for toppling the regime right at the gate of the king’s palace, as a video aired by Aljazeera shows. [11].

JORDAN’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood limited its participation to a single protest, [12] organized in their stronghold city of Rusifah, in which, without any criticism of the king, they demanded that fuel prices go down. Further, on November 20, while protests were still raging, the Muslim Brotherhood’s most senior leaders held a public conference [13] to discuss “reform″; as Zaki Bani Rushied–leader of the Islamic Action Front Party—the Brotherhood’s political arm—told the media: “The people of Jordan have chosen to reform the regime; people can choose to topple the regime or reform it, and here in Jordan we have chosen to reform the regime.”

On November 18, the news website, Al-Sawt, published an article entitled, “Will the Muslim Brotherhood get the price for its realism and positivity during the fuel-prices protests?” [14]

Al-Sawt claimed that the Hashemite regime had “an arrangement with the Muslim Brotherhood not to surf the tide of the protests, and to keep their demands fixed on peaceful reform of the regime.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candid support for the regime should not be much of a surprise: the Hashemite regime has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for decades, allowing it to operate freely, to run charitable organizations and youth movements, and to recruit members in Jordan.[15]

In 2008, the Hashemite regime introduced a new Political Parties’ Law, retroactively banning any existing political party unless it had five hundred members and offices in at least five Jordanian counties; therefore, most Jordanian political parties were dissolved, leaving the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party even stronger [16]

On 26 December 2012, CNN Arabic website published the contents of leaked Muslim Brotherhood internal document, exhibiting “deep divisions, weakness of political performance and ethnical political polarizing –Jordanian vs. Palestinian–all simultaneous with internal efforts for restructuring the leadership committees” [17].

Although denied by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, CNN Arabic quoted Jordan’s experts as saying that the document foretold an oncoming “explosion” that would lead into establishing “a new frame – for the Muslim Brotherhood — which is not now influential with the public.”

Even though it seems that the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is not as popular as many might assume, and does not have control over angry Jordanian protesters, nevertheless the Brotherhood remains the most financed and organized political faction in Jordan. Therefore, those concerned for peace and stability in Jordan should find ways to support the Jordanian secular opposition or else see a situation where the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Jordan if the king falls.

The Muslim Brotherhood is, at the moment, aligned with the king. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood has historically been at the receiving end of extensive tolerance and support from the Hashemite regime. [18]. Until the Arab Spring started, in fact, Jordan was the only Arab Country that had the Muslim brotherhood recognized as a “not-for-profit organization,” even before King Abdullah came to power. [19]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/jordans-secular-opposition-plan-b-for-jordan/2013/06/10/

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