Has the U.S. Administration decided to get rid of Jordan’s King Abdullah?
This is the question that many Jordanians have been asking in the past few days following a remark made by a spokesman for the U.S. State Department.
Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner managed to create panic [and anger] in the Royal Palace in Amman when he stated that there was “thirst for change” in Jordan and that the Jordanian people had “economic, political concerns,” as well as “aspirations.”
The spokesman’s remark has prompted some Jordanian government officials to talk about a U.S.-led “conspiracy” to topple King Abdullah’s regime.
The talk about a “thirst for change” in Jordan is seen by the regime in Amman as a green light from the U.S. to King Abdullah’s enemies to increase their efforts to overthrow the monarchy.
The U.S. spokesman’s remark came as thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest against their government’s tough economic measures, which include cancelling subsidies for fuel and gas prices.
The widespread protests, which have been dubbed “The November Intifada,” have resulted in attacks on numerous government offices and security installations throughout the kingdom. Dozens of security officers have been injured, while more than 80 demonstrators have been arrested.
And for the first time, protesters in the Jordanian capital have been calling for overthrowing King Abdullah. In an unprecedented move, demonstrators last week tried to march on the monarch’s palace in Amman in scenes reminiscent of anti-regime protests in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt.
The Jordanian authorities claim that non-Jordanian nationals who infiltrated the border have been involved in the violence, the worst to hit the kingdom in decades. The authorities say that Saudi and Syrian Muslim fundamentalists are responsible for attacks on government offices and other institutions, including banks.
Some Jordanian officials have pointed a blaming finger at Saudi Arabia and Qatar for encouraging the anti-regime protests and facilitating the infiltration of Muslim fundamentalists into the kingdom.
The officials believe that Jordan is paying the price of refusing to play a larger and stronger role in Saudi-Qatari efforts to topple Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
The talk about the involvement of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the recent unrest in Jordan prompted Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour to issue a warning to all the Gulf states that their security would be severely undermined if the Jordanian regime collapsed. Ensour was quoted as saying that the Gulf states would have to spend half their fortune in defending themselves against Muslim terrorists who would use Jordan as a launching pad to destabilize the entire Gulf.
Unless the U.S. clarifies its position regarding King Abdullah and reiterates its full backing for his regime, the Muslim fundamentalists are likely to step up their efforts to create anarchy and lawlessness in the kingdom. Washington needs to reassure King Abdullah and his followers that it would not allow the creation of an Islamic terror republic in Jordan. The Americans also need to put pressure on the Gulf countries to resume financial aid to Jordan, to avoid turning the kingdom into a source of threats against moderate Arabs and Muslims, as well as the West.
Originally published at the Gatestone Insitute.