From Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to Syria and Iraq, the Arab masses have been revolting against tyrannical dictatorships since the outbreak of the Arab Spring protests. According to Foreign Policy Magazine, the conventional wisdom within the West was that while dictatorships in countries like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia fell, and the dictatorships in Syria and Iraq could also have easily fallen were it not for the backing these regimes received from Iran, the monarchies were always more stable and less likely to fall due to the royal legitimacy these regimes enjoy. However, the masses on the Jordanian streets are countering the conventional wisdom within the West.
In June, various media outlets across the world reported that there were massive protests in Jordan against how the Hashemites were giving into the IMF and other foreign demands merely in order to bail themselves out due to their own corruption and their mishandling of the Jordanian economy. According to these reports, the only reason why these protests died off a bit is because the Hashemites replaced the prime minister.
Nevertheless, according to sources within Jordan, the issues that prompted the protests remain unresolved. A recent report in MEMRI proclaimed that Jordanian journalist Muhammed Barhouma stated the following about life in Jordan and the wider Arab world: “Terrorism is only one side of the destructive triangle in our region. The other sides are tyranny and corruption. In modern Arab history and in Islamic history, an organic connection exists between these three sides: the Arab despots created a religious and national culture that supports their tyranny and authority while excluding interpretations that differ from their own and do not suit their interests, so that the regime’s interpretation of the religion because the strongest and main interpretation, which corrupted the mind and society. Therefore, if I had to rate which of the three of these sides is the worst, I would say tyranny followed by corruption and only after that extremism and terrorism.”
The corruption and tyranny that permeates other Arab countries also exists in Jordan. According to Turkish scholar Nur Koprulu, writing in the Middle East Forum, the Muslim Brotherhood has traditionally been on the side of the Hashemites and the Jordanian monarchs have utilized them in order to quash dissent in the past. While Koprulu noted that the older Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed in Jordan and a new one was created that does not owe allegiance to its parent organization in Egypt, he nevertheless asserted that the monarchs always will keep the Muslim Brotherhood within the Jordanian political system as a potential ally that can help them deal with various crises.
Nevertheless, some argue that even the Muslim Brotherhood might not be able to save the Jordanian monarchs the next time around. A more recent article in Foreign Policy Magazine has claimed that unless the Jordanian monarchs learn to be more self-sufficient on economic affairs and less reliant on foreigners, popular discontent with them could reach a level where it might be “too late” for them. Indeed, despite the measures that the Hashemites have taken in order to calm down sentiments on the streets, there are reports in social media that Jordanians are still protesting against the Hashemites.
According to a recent youtube video, protesters are demonstrating right near the king’s palace, speaking out against the corruption that presently exists within the Hashemite Kingdom. One of the protesters proclaimed: “Let me remind the Jordanian people, if you need treatment, you will only get it with a royal decree. You will need 100 connections to get it. Even your medical treatment is a royal privilege. Let me remind you, dogs in Europe got health insurance and Jordanians need to beg for a royal exemption.”
Another protester stated the following about the Hashemites: “We have given them too many chances. Where are the country’s assets? Does he think we are stupid? We now want an interim government led by someone that we choose.” According to a Jordanian dissident, “These protests are only going to grow larger.”