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Jordan (and Libya and Syria and Yemen)

There is continued violence occurring in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, but nothing that represents a political turning point, so instead this post will focus on Jordan.  Yesterday, in discussing the social indicators of several countries, I wavered on whether or not I should point to Jordan as my next most likely candidate to undergo drastic change.  The poverty level is what kept me from identifying Jordan as potentially problematic.  Today, in a class, Professor Szyliowicz suggested that Jordan is a state to watch, so I’m going to take that as license to discuss the country here.

The New York Times reported today on a man, loyal to the monarchy, wearing a fake explosive belt trying to intimidate the Islamic Action Front.  The action reveals that there is conflict in Jordan between reformers, who include both Islamists and liberals, and those who are loyal to the status quo.  Among most Jordanians the King remains popular, so the likelihood of his being overthrown is low.  Instead, protesters are seeking greater democracy among the day to day policy makers, perhaps even to create a constitutional monarchy where the King remains but becomes a largely symbolic figure.  The other cause for concern is the role of Palestinians.  There is a very large Palestinian population in Jordan, possibly outnumbering the Jordanians themselves, and they are treated as second class citizens.  Jordanians do not like the poor Palestinians (I say this based on my own experience in the country).  While the Jordanians themselves may effect peaceful, moderate changes in their government, the Palestinians, if they organize, will seek a much more radical change.  My suspicion is that even Jordanian reformists would react strongly, perhaps violently, against any Palestinian push for greater political power.  Professor Szyliowicz even went so far as to say civil war in Jordan is not unthinkable between the Bedouins and the Palestinians.  So, as the events in Jordan continue to evolve, pay attention to the Palestinians.

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