Thursday, February 3, 2011

Will Jordan Fall to Radical Islam?

« Dozens of Islamists and trade unionists stage a noisy protest outside the Egyptian Embassy in Amman on January 29 in support of “the people of Egypt” and against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
Will the same forces that are wreaking havoc in Egypt bring down the Jordanian government?
Jordanian King Abdullah ii fired his government on February 1 after three weeks of protests. Nearly half of Jordan’s population are of Palestinian origin. Just as in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is a powerful political force.
The political wing of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Action Front, demanded the resignation of the government, the reform of Jordan’s election law and the formation of a new unity government with a prime minister not chosen by the king, which is customary, but by the people.
Last Friday, several thousand Islamists and trade union members gathered in the capital, as well as six other cities, to protest. This is the third consecutive Friday that has seen such protests.
In response, King Abduallah sacked the government and asked Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit to form a new one.
A letter from the king instructed the new government to “take practical steps, quick and concrete, to launch a process of genuine political reform” and “comprehensive development.” It must develop “a clear action plan that takes the march of reform forward.”
However, the leader of the Islamic Action Front, Hamza Mansour, said these changes would not stop the protests. “We reject the new prime minister and we will continue our protests until our demands are met,” he said.
Does this mean that mass protests are about to overthrow the Jordanian government? No.
The protests in Jordan are different to the ones in Egypt, where protesters want Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak out. In Jordan, even Mansour says, “Unlike Egypt, we don’t want a regime change in Jordan and we recognize the Hashemites’ rule in Jordan.”
Jordan’s government is more open and less authoritarian than Egypt’s. The Muslim Brotherhood is not outlawed in Jordan as it is in Egypt. The Brotherhood has significant ties to the government in Jordan.