Contrary to reports in the mainstream media, the regime of King Abdullah II has not been stabilized by the recent elections in Jordan. Since the January 23, 2013 elections, “the country has been in turmoil and clashes, fights, shootings and even storming of government buildings have been widespread. People have been chanting calling for the regime to be toppled.” 78 opposition groups, of which the Islamists were only one, had boycotted these elections due to procedural structuring that gave regime loyalists an unfair advantage.
Mudar Zahran believes that the Jordanian monarchy will be toppled within the year and asserted, “Those who support Israel should know they have two options left; either to support the king to the end, which is almost impossible now, or to secretly support the secular opposition in Jordan, which has clearly announced it would honor the peace agreement with Israel.”
Mudar Zahran is a secular Jordanian pro-democracy activist of Palestinian heritage that supports peace with Israel and often refers to the Faisal Wiesel Agreement by which Arabs were to turn 78 percent of historic Palestine—-today’s Jordan—into their homeland. He claims that he is well-heard and followed in Jordan, noting many incidents, for example when he called for them not to protest against the Israeli Embassy in Amman, and as he notes, the Washington Post reported less than 200 people showed up for the Jordanian government-backed anti-Israel protest.
Mudar Zahran added that a recent report by CNN Arabic stated that the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t popular with the Jordanian public. However, he warned, “The Islamists while they are not popular in Jordan” nevertheless “are the ones with the money and the TV stations […] while the Jordanian secularists have no money and no media. Therefore, in short…..unless those concerned for peace help them, the Islamists will out power the secularists.”
Mudar Zahran claims that the Jordanian Monarchy has been a double edge sword for Israel. On the one hand, “the Hashemite regime has kept Israel’s borders safe and worry-free for 40 years. Therefore, it is a very good arrangement for Israel and regional peace.” Nevertheless, Mudar Zahran asserted, “the Hashemite regime has been pressing its Palestinian majority telling them they should return to their homeland, Palestine, and that they are merely refugees. This is documented by the UN. So, the Hashemite regime has been an obstacle to solving the Palestinian issue.”
Additionally, contrary to the common perception in the west, Mudar Zahran stated that in Jordan, unlike in Egypt, the Islamists are collaborating with the regime and that the Jordanian opposition is dominated by secularists. Mudar Zahran has asserted, “The Jordanian regime has always allowed Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood to thrive, open businesses, and own hospitals, universities, schools and real estate. This has been the case for 50 years, despite the fact that all Arab countries banned the Muslim Brotherhood. The Jordanian regime has had them registered as a charity for the last 70 years. This is all documented by scholars.” For these reasons, he claims that the Islamists are merely seeking reforms rather than a regime change. He notes a public press statement made by Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood—last November—in which they said, “We have chosen to reform the regime and not topple it.”
However, the secularists who dominate the Jordanian opposition support regime change. According to Mudar Zahran, “The king is an avid gambler and a mega spender, along with his wife. Jordan’s national debt is now 25 billion.” It was “merely 8 billion when he came to power. Jordan has high taxes and almost zero benefits provided. People in refugee camps and in the farmers’ area are basically starved to death. All the while, the king exhibits his one million dollar Ferraris every now and then in the open royal museum. People have had enough.”
He continued, “At the moment we need to think that Jordan has the longest borders with Israel. If we end up with a situation similar to Syria or a situation where the Islamists win the elections that is bad. It is as simple as that. […] The American and British intelligence establishment will be able to make the difference in Jordan.” Mudar Zahran believes with the proper foreign assistance, especially American and British, the forces of democracy and human rights can succeed in Jordan against the Islamists who are aligned with the present Jordanian regime.
He furthermore claimed, “Most people protesting against the king are the average citizen starving from hunger and poverty.” They are “fed up with the government’s oppression” and are deeply moved by the secularists. Mudar Zahran asserted that even though Jordan’s Dignity Revolution started as a response to the fuel price hikes around the same time as Operation Pillar of Defense, “nobody was chanting any thing against Israel, despite the fact that the Jordanian regime’s media was calling for people to chant against Israel.” Furthermore, since the Jordanian Coalition of Opposition has publicly stated that it will respect and honor the peace treaty with Israel, Mudar Zahran believes that foreign forces should feel secure in supporting the democratic secular opposition rather than “betting on a dying horse, hoping he will make it another year.”
By Rachel Avraham