Will the street protests that led to upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt spread to Jordan? It sounds as if Jordan’s King is taking some pre-emptive steps with this news, via CNN:
The king of Jordan dismissed his government Tuesday and appointed a new prime minister with orders to implement political reform.
The dismissal follows several protests calling for change in Jordan — protests that echo demonstrations that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East in the last few weeks.
King Abdullah II asked Marouf Al Bakhit to form a government in Jordan that will implement “genuine political reform,” the Royal Court said in a statement.
The government will “take practical steps, quick and concrete, to launch a process of genuine political reform” and “comprehensive development,” according to a letter from the king to Al Bakhit. It also will act to strengthen democracy, the letter said.
Jordan has been deprived of “achievement opportunities” due to some leaders’ resistance to change, the king wrote, and because they had sometimes put their own interests ahead of those of the public.
The king asked Al Bakhit and the new government “to conduct a thorough evaluation process” and review laws regarding political affairs and civil freedoms to “address the mistakes of the past” and develop “a clear action plan that takes the march of reform forward.”
King Abdullah II also called on the new government to strengthen the institutional infrastructure and combat corruption, and prosecute those found to be involved in corruption.
The development in Jordan follows protests that forced the president of Tunisia from power and unrest that has convulsed Egypt for days. Demonstrators also have called for change in Algeria, Sudan and Yemen. Protest organizers have called for a demonstration this week in Syria.
But will this be enough? The Telegraph’s Con Coughlin doesn’t think so:
People have been calling for reform in Jordan for as long I can remember (I first covered the country for this newspaper in the early 1980s), but those calls have largely gone unanswered by the country’s rulers.
Both King Hussein and his successor have run relatively benign autocracies (unless you happen to be an Islamist militant, which is another story) and are generally held to be popular with their people.
The only problem is that, as in Egypt, Jordan has an energetic, highly educated young population that has no outlet for their talents. It may well be that the monarchy can survive in Jordan. But for that to happen King Abdullah needs to make sure that, this time around, the Royal Palace is serious about setting up a truly democratic government.
And after Tunisia….Egypt…Jordan…Where next?
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.