Israel’s eastern neighbor Jordan is experiencing a political upheaval with important implications. Presently, experts on Jordanian politics are claiming that the Jordanian monarchy may not survive the year, as protests against the Jordanian kings’ rule continue to be waged on Jordanian streets. Thus, given this fragile situation, questions arise regarding who will replace Jordan’s king if he is overthrown and if the Muslim Brotherhood fills the power vacuum in Jordan, what will be the fate of the country’s women, minority populations, and how would such a reality affect the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty?
According to Mudar Zahran, a secular Jordanian Palestinian pro-democracy advocate who seeks to replace Jordan’s monarchy with a democratic government and who has a wide following within Jordan’s Palestinian community, claims King Abdullah II will falls and when this occurs the Muslim Brotherhood is the only one that presently has the financial ability to win elections. The Muslim Brotherhood is “the only one with the money; they own a daily newspaper, while we the secularists are banned for having our own newspapers; they have a trust fund of 2 billion dollars ten years ago, could be more now; they have private hospitals, private schools, private universities, and vast real estate ownership. The secularists have nothing, while the Muslim brotherhood will only need 50 million dollars to win elections.”
Zahran asserted that in Egypt, the cosmopolitan cities did not vote for the Muslim Brotherhood, but rather the rural areas, where the Muslim Brotherhood was providing cooking oil, rice, bread, and even blankets to impoverished uneducated Egyptians. Zahran rhetorically asked, “How will the seculars in Jordan and Egypt ever be able to face off that to that? We are cracked down on by the regime, and don’t have help. Those concerned for peace need to give us money and assistance. Those who support peace are still betting on the king. They have not learned from Egypt,” where the world silently watched and did nothing as the democratic forces were defeated in elections by radical Islamists opposed to democracy. All forces supporting women’s rights, minority rights, and the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty stand to lose if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power.
Despite what Queen Rania states to the American media, Mudar Zahran has asserted that Jordanian women don’t have it well under the king. He asserted, “As we speak, 42,000 Jordanian mothers are separated from their children because they were born to non-Jordanian parents. 95 percent of the cases are where the father is Palestinian. The king’s regime has been cracking down hard on female opposition. Females who have stood against the king have been sexually harassed. One of them has been stabbed because she wrote against the king. Then, the regime issued a press statement falsely claiming that the girl was a prostitute which could have gotten her killed by her relatives in the name of honor and no serious punishments are applied to honor killers,” due to a preference for the tribal law over the Jordanian penal code. Nevertheless, this situation is expected to dramatically worsen under a Muslim Brotherhood government who supports enforcing Shariah law. According to Zahran, “Look at what is happening to women in Egypt; it will all be coming to Jordan soon” if the Muslim Brotherhood takes power.
Zahran claims that the overwhelming majority of Jordan’s Christian population is Palestinian. Like all Palestinians in Jordan, they are presently excluded from public jobs, from being officers in the army, from serving in the air force, and don’t have access to state benefits, healthcare and college education. Since Abdullah II came to power, they have also been denied the right to be government ministers. According to Zahran, “When the Muslim Brotherhood comes, they will have no chunk of the pie at all and there will be forced migration, just like the Jews were forced to flee Egypt under Nasser.”
While Zahran does not believe that the Muslim Brotherhood would have the power to fight Israel immediately upon taking power, he still nevertheless believes that they will pose a threat to Israel over the long-term, by transforming Jordan into a base where perhaps rockets could be launched into Israel. In other words, Jordan would be transformed into another Gaza under a Muslim Brotherhood leadership. According to Zahran, “There might be a coalition with Iraq and Iran. They will create chaos and distress similar to Lebanon, but not a whole-out war.” However, with the Muslim Brotherhood already in power in Egypt, and should the Muslim Brotherhood take over Syria and Jordan as well, the Muslim Brotherhood might attempt to create an Islamist Empire. Zahran asserted, “If they take over Jordan, they will be able to threaten the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia; they will be able to threaten Lebanon, and they could make Israel’s life miserable through a coalition with Iran and Iraq. What is really alarming is that I see people sitting in Israel, watching and doing nothing, or hoping that Israel will make it.”
Zahran has asserted that there is a way to prevent all of these horrible scenarios from taking place. He claimed, “I think Israel should not meddle in the Jordanian or Syrian affairs at all. I think that the pro-peace and pro-Israel lobby in the US should intervene by convincing the US government to talk to the secularists, just like they have been talking to the Islamists, and also to provide media coverage to the secularists in Jordan and Syria, and to provide a few million dollars channeled through registered organizations in the West to support the seculars in Jordan. We have very limited time ahead of us.”
By Rachel Avraham