The unrest which began in Tunisia and spread to Egypt has also produced some demonstrations in Jordan, on a much smaller scale. Jordan’s King Abdullah decided to head off larger protests by dissolving his government today, and appointing a new Prime Minister.
Somewhat disturbingly, this is exactly what a January 18 report from Voice of America says Jordan’s Islamic Action Front asked the King to do. The Islamic Action Front is the Jordanian political arm of – you guessed it! – the Muslim Brotherhood. They’ve been holding rallies in front of the Jordanian parliament ever since the Tunisian uprising entered its terminal stage.
Hopefully the new Jordanian government will not be crafted to please the Islamists, but instead follow King Abdullah’s instructions to “take practical steps, quick and concrete, to launch a process of genuine political reform, comprehensive development, and take genuine steps towards strengthening democracy,” as long as democracy doesn’t strengthen to the point where it no longer functions at the pleasure of a king.
The old Prime Minister, Samir Rifai, was “blamed for a rise in fuel and food prices, and slowed political reforms,” according to the Associated Press. The new Prime Minister looks to be Marouf al-Bakhit, the current Jordanian Director of National Security. Al-Bakhit has held the job before, back in 2005, and has also served as ambassador to Israel. He retired from the Jordanian armed forces 1999 after a 35-year military career, concluding with the rank of major general. He was educated in both California and England.
The largest protests to date are getting under way in Egypt today. We’ll soon know if King Abdullah’s moves are enough to preserve the Jordanian monarchy.