According to Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian Palestinian pro-democracy activist, Israel’s neighbor Jordan is experiencing a rising foment among the general populace against King Abdullah II, Jordan’s head of state. Zahran said “The situation in Jordan is bad. The native East Bankers are protesting openly for the king to be toppled. They have gone as far as surrounding his palace and telling him to leave the country. All of his photos were burned in every Bedouin area and every refugee camp in Jordan. For the first time ever in forty years, the East Bankers and West Bankers are coming to together against the king.”
He continued, “The economy is collapsing. We have an inflation rate that exceeds Somalia and Ghana, and a growth rate that is less than Somalia, at 2.5 percent. The national debt rate exceeds 75 percent of the GDP. It all brings back memories of 1989, when the Jordanians woke up and found their Jordanian currency had shrunk by half. As a result, the prices of local stores in Amman are comparable to London and Tokyo, and the income per capita is 600 dollars less than Egypt. This is the first time in the last 50 years that Egyptians make more money than Jordanians. Jordan is a time bomb and the economic and political pressure will eventually make it explode.”
The situation in Jordan has deteriorated to the level that even journalists who support the Jordanian king have asserted that the Jordanian regime will need generous western aid money and military guarantees in order to stay in power, yet Mudar Zahran does not think that either of this will materialize for even the rich Arab countries are refusing to send him financial support and western democracies such as the United States and Israel will “never fight a war to keep a dictator in power.” Thus, the Jordanian King’s chances of remaining in power are quite slim. Mudar Zahran asserted that this year will be King Abdullah II’s last year in power and that he does not believe he will survive the summer.
As a result of this situation, King Abdullah II is desperate to save himself, at any cost. Thus, according to Mudar Zahran, “He went and visited Russia, and the Al Quds Al Arabiya newspaper confirmed that the Jordanian intelligence has been cooperating with the Assad regime the last two months. He has been sending back opposition figures to Assad, which is the death sentence for them, and he has been advocating at the Davos Forum that Assad will not fall, even playing on the fear factor that if Assad will fall Al Qaeda will take over.”
King Abdullah II has been asserting this, even though the Muslim Brotherhood is an ally of the Jordanian king who has been helping him crush secular opposition figures. Additionally, the secular opposition in both Jordan and Syria supports peace because they have no interest in fighting Israel. Zahran claimed that Syria is like Jordan in the sense that the revolution is dominated by the secularists, while the Muslim Brotherhood, with its enormous wealth, only has the best shot to win elections because no one is financially supporting the secularists. However, Mudar Zahran asserted that Jordanian Palestinian society, which makes up the majority of the Jordanian population, is very liberal compared to Palestinian society in Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza.
Yet as if it were not bad enough that King Abdullah II was building up ties with the Assad regime while simultaneously enjoying the support of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, the Jordanian king is also trying to form ties with Iran, which in the long-term could result in Iran gaining access to Jordan’s uranium wealth (in fact, Al Quds Al Arabi reported that Iran was already offering the king the opportunity to develop Jordan’s uranium wealth), while in the short-term could threaten Israel’s border with Jordan, by giving Iran a foothold in Jordan. According to Mudar Zahran, “The King is playing with fire and the Iranians could easily burn up Jordan. They don’t care, just like they did in Lebanon, and they will burn any where as long as it is not on their own soil.” These new developments in Jordan require Israel to assess the situation in order to take appropriate action.
By Rachel Avraham