Expert: Abdullah Losing Power in Jordan

March 18, 2012  

Middle East expert Dr. Assaf David, a research fellow at the Truman Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said on Sunday he believes that Jordan might also be rocked by the Arab Spring turmoil in the Middle East.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, David said that even if Jordan’s King Abdullah is not overthrown, he is losing the public’s support.

According to Dr. David, the turmoil in Jordan began even before the protests in other countries across the Middle East, and is centered on King Abdullah’s economic policy, which is interpreted by many of the local tribes as targeting them and working towards strengthening the status of Palestinian Authority Arabs in Jordan.

The economic policy includes decisions such as the sale of state assets held by the Jordanian security forces to foreign investors, including PA Arabs. This decision, explained Dr. David, undermines the Jordanian tradition according to which the public sector is controlled by local tribes, while PA Arabs control the private sector.

He explained that this and other similar moves are made due to the king’s desire to turn Jordan into a manufacturing state. He added that King Abdullah has found that the existing government system blocks him from making such moves, and has circumvented it by establishing mechanisms which render the current government and the bureaucracy irrelevant.

These and other moves incite the population of Jordan, Dr. David added, and even if the protests are not as large as the ones in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, they do exist and may well be strengthened.

“The calls against King Abdullah’s regime have become more frequent,” he said. “If at first many opposed the current reforms, now they are directly attacking the government.”

David added that King Abdullah is not currently in danger of being overthrown, mainly because of his policy of buying support with money, honors and appointments. At the same time, he added, the king’s decision-making ability is gradually being reduced, and that means the decay of the Hashemite regime, a fact which is also being reflected in the increase of violent incidents between the tribes.

Dr. David also referred to the “Jordan is Palestine” idea which is being pushed for by some Israeli politicians, and noted that that there are growing calls to implement this idea even among members of the ruling party, the Likud.

The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee recently delayed a discussion entitled “Jordan is Palestine” citing the “sensitivity of the issue.”

The discussion was initiated by National Union MK Aryeh Eldad, who said that “the discussion is relevant and more urgent than ever. The shocks and upheavals in the Middle East will not pass Jordan by.”

Eldad is one of those public officials who have been long-time proponents of defining Jordan as the ‘Palestinian state’ over creating such an entity in Israel’s biblical heartland, and he has pressed the government to abandon the bilateral track instituted by the Oslo Accords and pursue a separate diplomatic track with Jordan.

Abdullah has rejected the long-held formula of the Hashemite monarchy that “Jordan is Palestine,” saying “The so-called ‘substitute homeland’ exists only in the minds of the weak.”

“The Jordanian option is an illusion. Jordan is Jordan, and Palestine is Palestine,” Abdullah said.

Eldad said in response to Abdullah’s statements, “Abdullah knows full well that there is no other justification for Jordan and he is overwhelmed with fear of the masses in Amman today to do what they did Mubarak and Qaddafi.”

Dr. David said he believes the ‘Jordan is Palestine’ idea will lead to a civil war in Jordan, but noted that he believes that Jordan will ultimately be unable to ignore the future of PA Arabs and would have to take some responsibility for them as part of any agreement between Israel and the PA.

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