“Fried eggs over easy or sunny side up?” “Ummm…..”

14 Jun

While Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has obviously opted for a gory turn of events, news on Jordan continue to remain rather sparse. As I’ve mentioned before, the struggle for reform is on in Jordan, just as it is on everywhere in the Middle East. Jordan’s King Abdullah II. is not one for blood and thunder, but he currently faces criticism and reform demands too, and he cannot risk a “sit it out” strategy.

Having remained rather calm during the past months, the King faced his people’s anger first-hand when his convoy was attacked by angry young Jordanians throwing stones while he was visiting the city of Tafilah in the south of the country on Monday. The incident was minor and no one was harmed, but it should not be underestimated: Tafilah is a region populated largely by native Jordanians, who are politically better represented than the Jordanian Palestinians. The Hashemites largely rely on keeping the native Jordanians happy, as political stability is said to depend on their loyalty. It thus seems rather alarming that this attack did not take place among the pro-reform, politically underrepresented Palestinian population of Amman, but within the loyal heartland.

Shortly before this incident, King Abdullah II. had announced the pardoning of some 8’000 prisoners. One of the official explanations was that releasing those prisoners would save the Jordanian government around 40 million Jordanian Dinar (39 million Euro) per year. The King also announced that in the future, he will cease to appoint his ministers and instead have parliament elect his cabinet. The pro-reform camp was unhappy about this, because it smells appeasement and wants more reforms. Apparently, the stone-throwing Tafilah youngsters were unhappy too, but I am not certain why:

They might oppose the king’s mass pardon, cutting back his own power and appeasing Palestinians. Or they might simply be annoyed with their stalling economic situation. Or they might demand democratic reforms too, which I think is least likely.

Whatever the reason, Abdullah is under pressure. Either both Jordanians and Palestinians pull at the same pro-reform string and Abdullah looks at fried eggs sunny side up. Or he is severely sandwiched between Jordanians’ and Palestinians’ demands, dishing him fried eggs over easy. Neither breakfast is particularly desirable.

By the way: The Jordanian government yesterday was quick to deny any such incident had taken place at all. And today, Abdullah II. announced to launch a fund to boost development and income in the economically stricken Tafilah district.

Interesting. Double-ended appeasement? Fried eggs sunny side up?


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