Popular Protests Spread To Jordan

First Tunisia, then Egypt, then Yemen, now the protests have reached Jordan:

(Reuters) – Islamists, leftists and trade unionists gathered in central Amman Friday for the latest protest to demand political change and wider freedoms.

A crowd of at least 3,000 chanted: “We want change.”

Banners and chants showed a wider range of grievances than the high food prices that fueled earlier protests, and included demands for free elections, the dismissal of Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s government and a representative parliament.

The protest after Friday prayers was organized by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood which is the only effective opposition and biggest party, but included members of leftist parties and trade unions.

Jordan’s protests, as in several Arab countries, have been inspired by the uprising that overthrew the Tunisian president.

“After Tunisia, Arab nations have found their way toward the path of political freedom and dignity,” said Zaki Bani Rusheid, a leading Islamist politician.

Demonstrations have taken place across Jordan calling for reversal of free-market reforms which many blame for a widening gap between rich and poor.

It’s worth re-reading the two sentences I highlighted above. Populist unrest against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East won’t necessarily bring about a new birth of freedom, which is why the Bush Administration’s obsession with democratization was just incredibly naive.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Exactly. What is it about “Islamists, leftists and trade unionists,” that should fill us with optimism? This is a potential disaster for US foreign policy and peace in the world. This is potentially very, very dangerous stuff. I’d rate this as potentially far more dangerous than North Korea popping off their little nuke or even Iran building a nuke.

    Israel could end up surrounded by a Hezbollah-run Lebanon, and an Islamist Jordan and Egypt. Yemen could be an Al Qaeda safe haven. And then how long do Saudi Arabia and the little sheikdoms hold out?

  2. Pug says:

    Odds are the best organized come out of these things on top. Organizations with the most loyal and disciplined followers usually take power.

    Too bad it could well be Islamists in all these countries as they have been the only opposition in most cases.

  3. RGardner says:

    I don’t think anything will happen in Jordan for a reason western analysts always forget: The Jordanian Royal Family are the only royal direct descendants of the prophet Mohamed. They have the ultimate trump card on religious legitimacy.

    Their family was given TransJordan after their traditional lands went to the Ibn Saudi family (there is no love between the two).

    I took a college course in my freshmen year 30 years ago in Modern Islam (um, our text was “Militant Islam” 30 years ago). The instructor (A PhD Quaker from Yale) massively disrupted the “easy-A” of the Moslem students by:
    – Having them explain in English how they though the west perceived them
    – Having separate Arabic language sessions with them (with summaries in English to the rest of the class) on how they was each other. My (Engineering) school had lots of Lebanese and Saudis, plus Egyptians and Iranians (soon to depart).

    Muslim Brotherhood is Egyptian, and nasty.