Jordan's Election

A New Era?

by Philip Robins
published in MER164

The pundits got it wrong. They had predicted that the Jordanian general election of November 8 would result in the overwhelming return of traditional candidates with only a smattering of opposition deputies, enough to provide a vigorous, vocal check on government, but marginal in terms of setting a political agenda and molding policy.

This prevailing view among the liberal, educated, middle classes, Palestinian and Jordanian alike, who comprise the kingdom’s commentators and analysts, was also the view of the royal palace. Inevitably it became the view of the foreign embassies, and the view of foreign journalists who rely so heavily on diplomatic briefings.

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The Emergence of a New Labor Movement in Jordan

by Fida Adely
published in MER264

Although Jordan may appear little affected by the Arab uprisings, as early as January 2011 Jordanians were in the streets for the same reasons Tunisians and Egyptians were: protesting against economic conditions and privatization of state resources, demanding the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet, and calling for political reform and an end to elite corruption. The protests persist, with marches nearly every week, and include traditional opposition groups like the Muslim Brothers and leftists, as well as self-proclaimed “popular reform movements” that are forming throughout the country. At least two umbrella organizations have emerged to bring these movements together.

Letter from Jordan

by Karen Pfeifer
published in MER167

“Can you help me get a job in the United States?” “We like Saddam because he is a man of his word: He stood up to the Kuwaiti cheaters and now he is standing up to foreign domination and US intervention in the Arab world.”

I heard these two statements repeatedly -- often from the same person -- during my stay in Jordan this summer. From college professors, whom I knew from two months’ research at Yarmouk University, to shopkeepers and taxi drivers, these sentiments were sincerely held, fearlessly expressed and, to my surprise, apparently unanimous. It became a challenge for me, a US citizen, to comprehend the simultaneous attraction/repulsion ordinary Jordanians have for the United States and to explain the universality of their feelings.

Democracy Dilemmas in Jordan

by Abla Amawi
published in MER174

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Contested Space

Urban Settlement Around Amman

by Omar Razzaz
published in MER181

Dispossession, displacement, migration and precarious living conditions are intimately connected phenomena. Lines of causality run in every direction. Those enduring such conditions, in their determination to establish some roots and some sense of community, somewhere, often find themselves in violation of the “laws of the land.” They are in overcrowded quarters violating some rule about density in substandard housing violating some housing code, on agricultural land violating land use regulations, or on land legally claimed by others.


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Ariel Sharon and the Jordan Option

by Gary Sussman | published March 2005

An avid enthusiast of Ariel Sharon and his unilateral disengagement plan recently opined that the plan “has one inborn defect: it has no vision, has no diplomatic horizon and is devoid of any ideological dimension.” [1] This view of the Israeli prime minister -- tactically brilliant but lacking as a strategic thinker -- is common but mistaken. Sharon clearly belongs in the pantheon of master tacticians in modern politics, but he does indeed have a long-term strategy -- and disengagement fits right in.

Palestinian Land Documents

by Michael R. Fischbach
published in MER186

Far from the glare of the media attention, on dusty shelves lining the basement of the Jordanian Department of Lands and Survey in Amman, lies a key to the political and economic viability of the Palestinian entity which may emerge out of the Oslo accords. Scores of folders documenting the details of land ownership in the West Bank, including titles to land and water rights and the location of state land, lie waiting for the PLO’s call.

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Strategic Myths: Petra's B'doul

by Anna Ohannessian-Charpin
published in MER196

Until 1985, the small B’doul tribe resided among the historic ruins of Petra. They made most of their income from tourism, serving as guides, renting out their caves, and selling food and beverages. They also sold archaeological objects found among the ruins, mostly the shards of pots.

In 1985 the Jordanian government moved them to a new village. This relocation was a consequence of two ongoing projects: one to sedentarize the Bedouin, the other to give Petra the status of a national park and thus improve tourism. The actual move was 20 years in the making.

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Bread Riots in Jordan

by Jillian Schwedler , Lamis Andoni
published in MER201

On August 13, the Jordanian government lifted its subsidies on wheat. When bread prices immediately doubled, residents of the southern town of Karak demonstrated against the move, calling for a reversal of the policy and the resignation of the prime minister. The protests deteriorated into riots that lasted two days and ended only when the army occupied the town and enforced a strict curfew.

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Press Freedom in Jordan

by Joel Campagna
published in MER206

Throughout 1997, mounting restrictions on the press in Jordan reflected the government’s broader agenda of masking the widening divide between the state and its domestic political critics. In May, 1997, six months before the parliamentary elections, the cabinet of Prime Minister ‘Abd al-Salam al-Majali promulgated temporary amendments to the 1993 press and publications law that severely restricted the country’s outspoken independent weekly newspapers. The amendments followed nearly four years of legal action against the weeklies, the primary public outlet for independent views about the October 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, the country’s economic performance under IMF-led reform, government corruption and human rights abuses.

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