King Abdullah has attempted to calm the situation by appointing a PM sympathetic to working Jordanians, but it has done little to calm the anger over the new income tax law.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, April 5th 2017. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/whitehouse.gov
In the past week, the Kingdom of Jordan has experienced massive protests in Amman and other cities on a scale that the country hadn’t experienced in years. As part of the government’s new agreements with the International Monetary Fund, Jordan implemented an increased sales and income tax, as well as ended subsidies for goods like bread. As a result, over thirty unions across the country have banded together in demanding a general strike starting this morning. King Abdullah, in an attempt to calm tensions, has appointed Omar Al-Razzaz as the country’s new Prime Minister.
Razzaz has been able to negotiate with some unions to get them to go back to business before today’s strike, but a large sector of the country remains disdained at the government. The IMF has indicated that the reforms are necessary to balance Jordan’s budget, but the King has admitted the hardship it has caused citizens in day-to-day life. The country’s economy has experienced stagnation in recent years due to the instability of Syria to its north and Iraq to its east, as well as the influx of refugees that came with those conflicts.
Razzaz has opposed reforms that targeted the poor, indicating that the King may be willing to compromise on the IMF’s demands. However, various unions have expressed their desire to see direct change before any end to the strike is called, but are willing to enter talks with the new government moving forward.