15/05/2012

The Jordanian mystery

On 18 April 2012, Jordan’s King Abdullah II was the guest of the European Parliament, after a series of meetings with the European Union, during which he highlighted the progress made by his country for democratization, stressing the reform of the Constitution and the parliamentary elections. Pending elections, the Jordanian people hope that the king will keep his promise to restore social peace in the State.

During the Arab Spring, in the Hashemite Kingdom the protests began in the South and spread to Amman, as it has already happened in the past with the rebellion of 1989, known as the « surge of April ». As in all Arab countries, but in a different way, in Jordan there was a rise of Islamic movements, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, who actually led the protest because they’re those who have clear ideas about the application of a constitutional monarchy, new elections and a new system of State capable of containing corruption and fraud that characterized the political life of Jordan in recent years.

In Jordan, the Islamic movements have always played an important role, especially in recent times, when there were tensions with governments because, rather than seeking dialogue, it was tried to avoid providing answers to challenges to the population, yet ready to boycott largely the last election held in November 2010. We can’t forget, moreover, the problems associated with rising prices of essential goods, the progressive increase in unemployment and overall poverty in the country. About the economic crisis and inflation, even the Bedouin tribes have courageously protested against the King and Queen Rania, criticized for their expensive standard of living.

In recent months, trying to appease popular discontent, the King appointed a new Prime Minister, Aoun Khassawneh. This replacement was greeted with enthusiasm, after the progressive intrusion in recent years in public and parliamentary life of Dairat al-Mukhabarat al-Ammah that is the Jordanian intelligence service, which had become quite intrusive. At the appointment of the government, which occurred in October 2011, all political groups immediately attempted to create an atmosphere of peace and work together on reforms needed to improve conditions in the State, maintaining their confidence in the Hashemite guide.

Like its predecessor Maarouf Bakhit, in office from February to October 2011, Khassawneh has been criticized mainly for not having been able to begin the process of economic reforms. Accordingly, on 26 April 2012 King entrust of creating a new government to Fayez Tarawneh. Jordanian king seems to have adopted, once again, the « traditional » tactic that was used by the monarchy in recent years to pursue an apparent process of reforms: appointing a Prime Minister to start a policy of reforms in the State, then the accused of not being able to accomplish his task and, therefore, replace him with another one. In this way, the Jordanian monarchy has always been a reformer face, listening to the criticism of governments for the repeated failures, which during the past decade have pushed down civil and political freedoms in the State rather than improve them.

However, this choice leaves unanswered a fundamental question: if the death to the birth of an uncertain period of reforms can satisfy the monarchy, it certainly doesn’t meet the economic requirements of the Jordanian rural and poor component, which is taken to the streets since early last year with other groups of Jordanian society which don’t feel itself represented by the current system of State. Jordan hasn’t just the resources to expand the patronage system of treatment to all Transjordanian tribes. On the other hand, in this way the Palestinian component is excluded from the political process. The State still suffers from a severe economic crisis, a growing debt and a serious energy shortage and water is still not immune to the social and political explosion.


GIACOMO MORABITO

University of Messina