“Do You Know Who Governs Us? The Damned Monetary Fund”

Jordan’s June 2018 Rising

by Sara Ababneh | published June 30, 2018

From May 30 to June 7, 2018 Jordanian protesters took the world by surprise. What had started as protests over a taxation draft law and an increase in gas prices quickly led to a popular rising against the neoliberal path on which the state has embarked. The rejection of neoliberal economic policy and the privatization of key national industries are not new to Jordan. But the centrality in which this analysis featured in the events of June’s rising (habbit [1] huzayran) is unprecedented. In the past, protests against the government’s economic nahj (path) were most strongly felt in workers’ circles, the governorates outside Amman and a few impoverished quarters inside the capital.

The Fiscal Politics of Rebellious Jordan

by Pete Moore | published June 21, 2018

Over the first weeks of summer, a surge of popular protest reminded the world that political contestation is alive and well in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a country often described as a haven of tranquility in the strife-torn Arab world. It started with a call for a June 6 general strike by a coalition of professional associations and labor unions in opposition to the regime’s proposed amendments to the income tax law. But when the moment arrived a range of groups, formal and ad hoc, transformed it into days-long nationwide demonstrations demanding repeal of the tax law, reversal of price hikes on fuel and electricity, and dismissal of the prime minister.

Refugee Rights Hit the Wall

by Sophia Hoffmann
published in MER286

I was in Damascus in early 2007 to conduct research on the situation of newly arrived Iraqi refugees when I went looking for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Syria office. I found it in a two-room apartment downtown, staffed by a single Syrian protection officer. The pressures on the organization were becoming intense, she told me. Earlier that day she had spontaneously handed out some cash to a young Iraqi man who had nowhere to stay so that he could pay for a hotel. The thought of him having to sleep in a park was abhorrent and scandalous. UNHCR Syria’s annual budget was $1.4 million at the time.

Reviving Activism in Jordan

The Movement Against Israeli Gas

by Curtis Ryan
published in MER281

In January 2011, hundreds and sometimes thousands of Jordanians began protesting like clockwork on Friday afternoons; they continued to do so for nearly two years. The crowds were small compared to those in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain, but the turnout was sustained and marked a significant uptick for Jordan, where peaceful protest had not been uncommon. But by 2013 the demonstrations declined in both size and frequency. The regime weathered the main storm of the Arab uprisings, and without having resorted to violent repression. Many in the regime credited top-down reforms, including a revised constitution and amended laws on parties, public gatherings and elections.

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Sudanese and Somali Refugees in Jordan

Hierarchies of Aid in Protracted Displacement Crises

by Rochelle Davis , Abbie Taylor , Will Todman , Emma Murphy
published in MER279

In late 2015, hundreds of Sudanese staged a sit-in outside the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Amman, Jordan. Their hope was to obtain recognition of their rights as refugees and asylum seekers, and to receive better treatment from the agency. A previous protest in 2014 had ended when Jordanian police persuaded (or compelled) the Sudanese to leave the site. This time, however, after the Sudanese had camped out for a month in the posh neighborhood of Khalda, the police arrived in force in the early hours of a mid-December morning. They dismantled the camp and transported some 800 protesters and others—men, women and children—to a holding facility close to Queen Alia International Airport.

Putting Refugee Work Permits to Work

by Vicky Kelberer
published in MER278

For decades, humanitarian experts and international organizations have called upon host countries to give more work permits to refugees. Permits are posed as a way to alleviate the poverty of refugees and lessen their dependency on aid. Host countries have traditionally shunned the notion, however, fearing the creation of permanent populations of refugees in competition with citizens for jobs. Most host countries, in fact, have done the opposite, blocking access to work and deporting refugees found working illegally.

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Oasis in the Desert?

Coproduction and the Future of Zaatari

by Denis Sullivan , Charles Simpson
published in MER278

From the summer of 2012 through 2014, there were rapid influxes of refugees from Syria into the Zaatari camp in Jordan. The camp’s population spiked in early 2013—from 56,000 in January to a peak of 202,000 just four months later—overwhelming the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Jordanian government officials who were trying to maintain order. Such runaway growth would have been difficult to manage in an established city in a developed state, much less an ad hoc community of tents in the desert.

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NGO Governance and Syrian Refugee “Subjects” in Jordan

by Sarah A. Tobin , Madeline Otis Campbell
published in MER278

The typical image of the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan is one of suffering. Journalistic account after account introduces spectacular stories of devastation and loss. While perhaps dramatized, these tales are not false. Syrian refugee camps have forced hundreds of thousands of strangers to live together in austere, unequal and artificially constructed communities, which are subject to new national laws. To live in the camps is indeed to endure or have endured some form of suffering—but also to be part of a collective of survivors. As M.

Jordan Drops the Pretense of Democratic Reform

by Jillian Schwedler | published April 28, 2016 - 11:19am

In September 2012, King ‘Abdallah II of Jordan stopped by “The Daily Show” to chat with Jon Stewart about his commitment to democratic reform in his country. In the wake of the uprisings across the Arab world, he said, “We changed a third of the constitution. We did a lot of different things—a new constitutional court, a new independent commission for elections,” all in preparation for a transition from monarchical rule to meaningful parliamentary governance. “This is the critical crossroads for Jordan to get it right, these next four years,” the king concluded.

Losing Syria’s Youngest Generation

The Education Crisis Facing Syrian Refugees in Jordan

by Reva Dhingra | published March 2, 2016

Hasan bounces in his chair, pencil tapping against the table as he bends over the first page of a math exam. He hesitates, before stretching his hand frantically into the air as he waits for help from the program facilitator busy with one of the handful of other boys scattered across the classroom. Hasan is a student at one of over 90 Non-Formal Education Centers opened in Jordan by the education NGO Questscope in partnership with the Jordanian Ministry of Education, funded by a grant from UNICEF. The program, aimed at providing tenth-grade equivalency certificates for refugee and Jordanian children who have spent years without formal schooling, has witnessed a dramatic expansion since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.