Jordan's Plucky Little King Blinks; Sacks Entire Cabinet….

Jordan’s king sacks entire Cabinet amid street protests

King Adullah nominates ex-army general Marouf al-Bakhit as prime minister after thousands of Jordanians take to the streets and call for the current PM to resign, due to rise in food, fuel prices.

“Nobody wants regime change, but people here want accountability and an end to government corruption,” Jordanian analysts say. (J’Post)

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah II fired his government Tuesday in the wake of street protests and asked an ex-prime minister to form a new Cabinet, ordering him to launch immediate political reforms.

The dismissal follows several large protests across Jordan— inspired by similardemonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt — calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai, who is blamed for a rise in fuel and food prices and slowed political reforms.

Opinion: What about Jordan?
Thousands in Jordan protest, demand PM step down

A Royal Palace statement said Abdullah accepted Rifai’s resignation tendered earlier Tuesday.

The king named Marouf al-Bakhit as his prime minister-designate, instructing him to “undertake quick and tangible steps for real political reforms, which reflect our vision for comprehensive modernization and development in Jordan,” the palace statement said.

Bakhit previously served as Jordan’s premier from 2005-2007.

The king also stressed that economic reform was a “necessity to provide a better life for our people, but we won’t be able to attain that without real political reforms, which must increase popular participation in the decision-making.”

He asked Bakhit for a “comprehensive assessment … to correct the mistakes of the past.” He did not elaborate. The statement said Abdullah also demanded an “immediate revision” of laws governing politics and public freedoms.

When he ascended to the throne in 1999, King Abdullah vowed to press ahead with political reforms initiated by his late father, King Hussein. Those reforms paved the way for the first parliamentary election in 1989 after a 22-year gap, the revival of a multiparty system and the suspension of martial law in effect since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

But little has been done since. Although laws were enacted to ensure greater press freedom, journalists are still prosecuted for expressing their opinion or for comments considered slanderous of the king and the royal family.

Some gains been made in women’s rights, but many say they have not gone far enough. Abdullah has pressed for stiffer penalties for perpetrators of “honor killings,” but courts often hand down lenient sentences.

Still, Jordan’s human rights record is generally considered a notch above that of Tunisiaand Egypt. Although some critics of the king are prosecuted, they frequently are pardoned and some are even rewarded with government posts.

It was not immediately clear when Bakhit will name his Cabinet.

Bakhit is a moderate politician, who served as Jordan’s ambassador to Israel earlier this decade.

He holds similar views to Abdullah in keeping close ties with Israel under a peace treaty signed in 1994 and strong relations with the United States, Jordan’s largest aid donor and longtime ally.

In 2005, Abdullah named Bakhit as his prime minister days after a triple bombing on Amman hotels claimed by the al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

During his 2005-2007 tenure, Bakhit — an ex-army major general and top intelligence adviser — was credited with maintaining security and stability following the attack, which killed 60 people and labeled as the worst in Jordan’s modern history.

6 thoughts on “Jordan's Plucky Little King Blinks; Sacks Entire Cabinet….”

  1. Jordan: In Bed With Islamists

    Hudson New York

    In the aftermath of protests in Tunisia, the Jordanian public and activists groups have been engaging in sweeping protests against the extreme living conditions and inflation, and calling for the resignation of the government.

    Amazingly, the Muslim Brotherhood was the only political faction in the country that announced boycotting the protests.

    While this might come as a surprise to those outside Jordan, the Jordan’s history with Islamic movements suggests an affair that is very different from what the supposedly moderate Jordanian government has been saying for decades.

    It is not a secret that the Muslim Brotherhood has always been closer to the government than each side — the Brotherhood and the government — would like to admit. For a start, Jordan is one of the very few countries in which the Muslim Brotherhood is a registered charity with a legal political party.

    The Muslim Brotherhood has always been the Jordanian government’s chosen connection to its Palestinian majority. While the Jordanian government isolates Palestinians from any political engagement, and excludes them from the vast majority of civil and military jobs, the Muslim Brotherhood has served the Jordanian government for decades by providing a de facto political outlet for the politically-drained Palestinians as they are banned by the government from all political activities except joining the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Further, the government in Jordan has been constantly telling the Palestinians there that they are “guests,” and not natives, of the land — despite their holding citizenships — and that they therefore “should someday return to Palestine,” a notion that has been highly quoted by senior Jordanian officials. The Muslim Brotherhood has also been promoting the same concept to the Jordanian Palestinians for decades, saying that that they should wait until “Palestine is liberated,” and consider their stay in Jordan temporary.

    The fact that the Jordanian government claims that Palestinians favor Islamists has given an excuse for it to further isolate them from political and legislative representations. The Palestinian majority is therefore controlled by a minority of elitists who are almost strictly of non-Palestinian origins, such as the Bedouins, the Circassians, and even the Syrians.

    In exchange, members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been enjoying prosperous economic and political operations in Jordan — running profitable charitable organizations, and regularly securing senior government and legislative jobs; a look at the list of Jordanian officials and legislators confirms this.

    Today, the Muslim Brotherhood’s monopolization of Palestinian politics is almost gone. The Palestinians have voted them out of office because of their uncompromising support to unfavorable government decisions such as increasing prices of basic goods and fuel, raising taxes, and practicing further political discrimination against the Palestinians. For example, Taher Masri, the last Palestinian Prime Minister of Jordan, one of only a handful of Palestinians to fill the position, was voted out of office by the Islamists parliamentarians back in 1992. No wonder the Palestinians in Jordan have come to support secular Palestinian nationalists instead.

    Still, the Muslim Brotherhood has served the Jordanian government well in helping to obstruct the growth democracy and change in Jordan. The Jordanian government has always claimed that the Palestinian majority in Jordan supported Islamists, and therefore, “should democracy be implemented; Islamists would come to power.” Therefore, Jordan has promoted its oppression of the Palestinian majority and lack of democracy as legitimate — in fact a “necessity for both the US and Israel” to avoid the rise of the allegedly pro-Islamist Palestinians.

    This doctrine has proven too effective in convincing the US to tolerate Jordan’s oppression of the Palestinians, despite generous US aid, which was originally supposed to improve the livelihood of the Palestinians. It now only ends up financing the lavish life style of the Jordanian monarchy and the ruling Bedouin elite.

    The US has turned a blind eye towards the Jordanian government’s abuse of aid money, just as it has too readily accepted Jordan’s lack of democracy, Supporting the isolation of supposedly “Palestinians Islamists” has come with a serious failure to probe if the allegations about the Palestinians’ pro-Islamist leanings are even true, as well as with a total lack of transparency.

    The claim that Palestinians in Jordan support Islamists does not hold. Most of the leaders and members of the Board of Directors of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan have been native Jordanians, not Palestinians. Rather, the native Jordanians are the ones who support the Islamists in Jordan — not the Palestinians.

    The Palestinian majority in Jordan is highly educated, Westernized, and passionately engaged in business and modernization — in contrast to the conservative and traditionally orthodox native Jordanians, who prefer the Islamists and openly express hostility toward both the US and Israel.

    In 2008, the number of Islamist parliamentarians dropped from sixteen in the previous parliament, to only six; many from non-Palestinian constituencies in Jordan. While in the 2011 election, the Palestinians gave the greatest number of votes to secular Palestinian candidates, such as Khalil Ateyah, who has been gaining consecutive landslide victories — with the unbroken record of more than 20,000 votes representing the Palestinian refugee camps.

    Moreover, the second-highest score winner was a Palestinian Christian, Tareq Khoury, whose voters were predominantly Palestinian Muslims.

    In latest parliamentary elections, the Jordanian government changed the electoral law, banning Palestinians from voting in their preferred constituencies; this resulted in Tareq Khoury not being able to have his Muslim Palestinian supporters from the refugee camps voting for him. Khoury, since then, has become a symbol of Palestinian nationalist secularism, and has been under constant government harassment, including a mysterious conviction that was brought up overnight, in which he was sentenced to “two years in jail for threatening a police officer.”

    Possibly to save face, the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2010, banned its members from running in the parliamentary elections; nonetheless, six of its members ran, but only one of them won — in a town with a non-Palestinian majority.

    Still, the Jordanian government’s secret affair with the Islamists goes beyond the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2008, Muhammad al-Dahabi, the powerful and agile director of the Jordanian General Intelligence Department, held meetings with Hamas leaders. According to US Embassy-Amman cables recently made public by Wikileaks, Jordanian officials were not shy or reluctant about their affair with Hamas, and even defended it before American diplomats.

    This should come as no surprise as Muhammad al-Dahabi, shortly after his retirement from the General Intelligence Department, had an interview with the prominent Lebanese newspaper, al-Nahar, in which he called for Arab countries to support “resistance movements,” and called for reviving the “morale of resistance” against Israel.

    Al-Dahabi was in charge of all counter-terrorism activities of the Hashemite Kingdom, including coordination with the Israelis and the Americans; today, his name is still circulated as a candidate for a future senior job at the Jordanian government, possibly a prime minister.

    Recently, the government-controlled Jordanian media has been calling for closer ties with Hamas; of course such calls usually reflect Jordanian government policies. This culminated in a recent trip to Gaza, during which the director of the military operations of the Jordanian Armed Forces met in Gaza with Hamas’s Prime Minister, Ismail Haniah.

    Jordan’s love affair with the Islamists can be easily explained. The more prominent the Islamists are, the more Jordan can claim that democratization and giving more rights to its Palestinian majority would bring an Islamic state into existence. So long as Jordan keeps claiming that the Palestinians support the Islamists, Jordan can keep obstructing democracy and oppressing its Palestinian majority, while using the Palestinians’ alleged love of the Islamists as a bogeyman to blackmail the West and Israel.

    The fact that Jordan’s Islamists are still close to the government, and have been
    calling for Israel and America’s annihilation for decades, would seem to indicate that Jordan actually fears democracy — not Islamic fundamentalism.

    Jordan should stop using the Islamists as a democracy-scarecrow while at the same time aligning with them in secret. Countries involved in the peace process must realize that Jordan has been supporting the Islamists and promoting them; and that most Palestinians are not necessarily pro-Islamists. Therefore, democratization in Jordan should be promoted and supported.

    Democratizating Jordan would further support regional peace and avoid unrest. Jordan’s distortion of the facts and its secret alliance with the Islamists are jeopardizing a much larger and deeper matter; peace itself.

  2. If nothing else, the fall of Jordan to “islamists” might mean the end of taquiyya efforts like World Interfaith Harmony Week and feigned concern for “Christian holy sites” in “occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in East Jerusalem” …

    Four months is a long time – a lot of wheels can fall off allah’s death cart in that time.

  3. Can it be that the billions we send to these oil rich Muslim states has been diverted so some of the population can buy a television. Perhaps they see how we live. Perhaps some of them even read and write now. But, it certainly looks as though most of the southern rim of the Mediterranean is having marches for democracy. Not marches for peace, but they are saying cleary – Democracy. In these countries we have dictators, Kings, and in Syria a family that has been in power for centuries. Yet they all want democrcy. Why is this I wonder?

    Some of the wheels may have fallen off our democracy cart, and we so often abuse it, but it now seems it s a very valuable comodity with millions seeking to have it.

    1. “Democracy’ for them takes on a completely different meaning. At most, it means one man, one vote, one time. The Islamic system rejects it, no cleric supports it, the people don’t understand it. You need to be aware of the fact that 70 to 80 % of these people are illiterate, 97 % of women are genetically mutilated.

      There is no hope!

  4. Why have successive Jordanian Kings married English Women? Most of the wealthy people in the middle east have a British education. The Poms may just be bein vogue again. Although I doubt this new mob of nit wits will do any better than touchy Tony Blair. Gosh he is looking dreadful lately. Hope it is not contageous.

    1. The Islamic state depends on a ‘need to know’ basis. The ulema (clerics) instruct the believers as to what their next moves are. Most of the activities happen usually after Friday prayers, when the soldiers of allah get their instructions and come charging out of the mosques. The ‘ummi’, the mass of illiterate Moslems, (literally ‘unlettered ones’) are not to question the authority of the clerics. The system is perfectly diabolical….

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