Thousands of Jordanians protest for democratic gains


Around five thousand Jordanian protestors took to the streets of Amman on Friday demanding political liberalization, wider parliamentary representation and constitutional changes limiting the powers of the throne.

“Reform and change, this is the demand of people,” angry protestors shouted among a mainly Islamists and leftist crowd joined by some tribal and liberal figures marching from the main Husseini mosque in the capital’s downtown to a nearby square.

The Jordanian opposition, spearheaded by the mainstream Islamists, the country’s largest political party, have been protesting for weeks for wider democratic gains as anti-government demonstrations sweep across the Arab world.

They are demanding more say, starting with a modern election law that broadens representation in parliament for inhabitants of the capital and the major cities of Zarqa and Irbid, where most of the country’s seven million population live.

The cities which are Islamist strongholds and heavily populated by Jordanians of Palestinian origin are under-represented in the 120-seat assembly in favor of sparsely populated rural and Bedouin areas inhabited mainly by native Jordanians, or so called East Bankers who are the backbone of support for the throne.

“We tell our government that reform has become a necessity that cannot wait,” Sheikh Hamza Mansour, the head of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the country’s largest opposition group, told the crowds in a rally at the end of the march.

“It’s not just the demand of the Islamist movement or the opposition party. It’s the demand of all Jordanians,” he added.

‘We demand end of this government’

Protestors chanted: “The people want to reform the regime”, “we want a fair electoral law”, and “people want an elected government”.

The Arab world has erupted in protests aimed at ousting long-standing rulers, but protests in Jordan have focused on holding free elections and fighting corruption.

Jordanians see the throne as a unifying force and arbiter among competing tribes from the East Bank and a Palestinian majority from the West Bank.

The Islamist and leftist opposition, along with growing traditional voices, want the monarch to move Jordan towards a true constitutional monarchy with a prime minister who is selected by parliament rather than appointed by the palace.

“We want constitutional changes that bring us a parliamentary government and makes parliament truly representative of the Jordanian people,” Mansour added.

King Abdullah has faced stiff resistance to his efforts to modernize the tribally structured kingdom from a powerful conservative establishment in the state and the security apparatus that holds a tight grip on power.

He has called on the government to move quickly on reforms that he acknowledged had stumbled.

Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit’s government promised this week to open a dialogue soon with a wide cross section of Jordanians, including the Islamist and leftist opposition and civic groups, on how to speed up electoral reforms and lift curbs on public freedoms.

But many Jordanians, who have seen successive governments fail to deliver on promises of reforms, remain deeply skeptical.

Also on Friday, tens of thousands of people filled the streets of central Tunis in what they called a “day of rage”, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, a former ally of the ousted president.

The demonstration appeared to be the biggest since uprisings in North Africa’s most developed country ended President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s 23-year rule on Jan. 14 and sparked pro-democracy protests across the Arab world, witnesses said.

Protesters, some carrying images of Ghannouchi’s face merging seamlesly into that of the Ben Ali’s, shouted “shame on the government!” and “Ghannouchi step down!” in a din that could be heard for miles.

“The only demand we have is the end of this government,” said Alia Soussi, a 22-year-old student joining the rally. “We hope Ghannouchi gets the message.”

February 26, 2011 | 5 Comments »

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  1. Hello again, Yamit.

    OK, I read the link you suggested. Agreed, Bibi’s ambivalence – not just his, but every Israeli government since Oslo – creates problems. Hoping against hope, bending under the pressure of the Saudi whore European and American elites, those to me are the likely explanations.

    I can’t know what’s in his mind, but I really don’t think Bibi wants to give up the major Jewish communities (I try to avoid using the word “settlements”) in J&S. I think he is trying to “keep the wolves at bay” as long as he can, but leaving open the possibility that he might have to agree to something awful if Obama is re-elected in order to prevent Israel from getting the “Rhodesia treatment” in the world community.

    I see the biggest problem at my end, not yours. Too many Jews here are either too intimidated or too apathetic or even delustional to speak up. That is changing, but very slowly. For example, I frequently write pro-Israel letters to the editor to my local newspaper, I’ve had maybe 40 published in the last decade or so, plus some guest op-ed columns. I’m something of a ‘local hero’ in my Jewish community because of my efforts. You know, I’ve run into Jews here – great admirers of what I do – who are AFRAID to even send letters to the editor!!! It is really pathetic…..

    I absolutely agree with the Jordanian option as laid out in the article you reference, for the reasons stated. We are 1000% in agreement on this. As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of a two-state solution: the two states being Jordan and Israel!

    I am working here to help make the Jordanian option a viable alternative in the public sphere to the present b.s. that passes for policy concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is the very core of my efforts here. I can tell you that I’ve influenced John McCain on this, and while the election of Obama has been a very big blow to my efforts, I have not quit, not by a long shot.

  2. Yamit, I think we are starting to find our ideological “legs”, so to speak. Here in the U.S., with Obama, we’ve hit bottom, but I suspect we’re on the rebound. I can’t say for sure yet, but neither can you, one way or the other. As far as I’m concerned, the 2012 elections are going to be a critical “decision point” where this matter is concerned.

    China is very much a wild card in all of this. They have no interest in promoting the agenda of the Islamists, but they do have an interest in maintaining this as “our” problem instead of it being “theirs”. What role they will play in all of this is yet to be seen. But in the end, we’re a lot better customer for their wares – just the U.S. alone -than the Moslems. Mostly they need oil from the Moslems, but as you and I have pointed out elsewhere, the Moslems have to sell the oil or they go broke. I somehow cannot see China, if push comes to shove, lining up with the Islamists against the West.

    Anyway, circa 1938, you could have made the same criticisms of the democratic world versus the fascists in Germany, Italy, and Japan, and it would have sounded reasonable at the time. Many influential people here believed that the democratic way as represented by the likes of the U.S., France, Britain, was on the way out, and that fascism was the wave of the future. This was the view of the likes of Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Joe Kennedy, to cite some examples.

    Bottom line: I wouldn’t write us off just yet.

  3. Vinnie says:
    Raw, brute fanaticism is no match for the disciplined, purposeful application of firepower.

    The West have the firepower, but not the staying power. No populist Western Democracy has the long term staying power today to defeat an ideologically grounded enemy. America and the West do not have the stomach to do what might be necessary to overcome the Islamic threat. They still identify us as Crusaders,and even when defeated on the battlefield they declare victory.

    Bare in mind in addition that they and the Chinese have all the money and I can’t recall ever in history a bankrupt civilization (Financially and Spiritually) successfully defended themselves from the barbarian onslaughts.

    Empty Bravado is no substitute for realism. Can the West and America afford a prolonged conventional war or wars? Every cent rise in the price of gas depletes from the economy 1 billion dollars a day and that ain’t hay!

    PS Read this and my comment #1 and I would welcome your thoughts.

  4. It’s OK, BlandOatmeal.

    Near term, very scary, what with the Moslem-butt-kisser-in-Chief as president.

    But he’s a one-termer for sure. Unless he is replaced by Ron Paul, just about anybody else will be an improvement.

    Maybe we’ll luck out and it will be Palin or Huckabee. And then, for the Islamists, the game is up, whether they know it or not.

    I say, let these Islamists take over places like Jordan. Let them. What they hell have they got, anyway, besides raw, brutish fanaticism? Oil? They don’t sell that, they go broke. They try jacking up the price too far, even they can’t suspend the laws of economics, then demand will drop and we’ll find alternate sources (well, I don’t know about Europe, but screw them), and then they’re worse off than when they started. And that’s the ones who even have oil, which Jordan does not.

    These Islamists are going to get them their own technology? They going to create economic growth and jobs? No. They’ll keep them in the sorry state they’re in now, only more so.

    And best of all, the Arabist whores at State can’t say anymore, “Oh, we mustn’t get too close to Israel, or we’ll alienate our ‘moderate’ friends among the Arabs.” What “moderate” friends? As if we’ve ever had any to begin with, but now, with Islamists in charge, the writing is on the wall for all to see. We have to back Israel. And they f*** with us, the gloves are off.

    Not that Obama will ever get this. Him, and the loony left at places like NPR, The Guardian, the BBC, no, they won’t get it for a while if they ever do. But Congress here – even the liberal Democrats – are starting to “get it” already. And a lot of other people are, too, even in Europe. Even in Germany, Chancellor Merkel is coming under criticism for being too hard on Israel, believe it or not.

    Let the Arabs and other Moslem countries have their Islamic revolutions. Let them dig their medieval political cultural graves.

    Raw, brute fanaticism is no match for the disciplined, purposeful application of firepower.

    It will come to that eventually. Not next week or even next year, but it will come to that. When it comes down to a serious confrontation, their “Allah” won’t be much help. They will be creamed. Let them keep coming, though, until we “see the whites of their eyes”. Then, we open fire….