Jordan’s King Abdullah II is in trouble.
Protests against him have been
continuous for over two years now, and the theme of toppling the king has become
well-established, as confirmed by Al Jazeera, The Independent and other media
To add to the king’s woes, both his Palestinian majority and the
formerly loyal East Bankers have joined forces against him. This has sent shock
waves through Abdullah’s regime, with sources close to his palace confirming to
me he has been flying all of his personal valuables out of the country, possibly
cautiously preparing for the day he might have to flee the
Abdullah’s instability was made clear in an interview he gave to
American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg which was published by The Atlantic
magazine. In the interview, Abdullah states clearly that he had considered
stepping down, and that he had no control over his Beduin-dominated department
In other words, Abdullah might as well be an “ex-king”
walking, and thus he is just buying time.
While the king sticks around,
the protests keep raging, with some coming too close for Abdullah’s comfort, in
fact dangerously close. For example on Friday, May 3, thousands of protesters
blocked the Dabouq area, meters away from the king’s private palace, barring
royal motorcades from going in or out, all at the same time the southern
governorate of Ma’an – Jordan’s largest in area – was out of control, with armed
Beduin militias roaming the governorate, blocking highways and occasionally
exchanging fire with the Jordanian police, which remains unable to break into
Abdullah is in deep trouble – so he seems to have reached for
the oldest trick in the book for Arab dictators: beating the Israeli
FOR STARTERS, the royally controlled and hand-picked Jordanian
parliament has been throwing bricks at Israel. It is a fact that that most of
those in the Jordanian parliament are loyal East Banker figures, with very few
Also, a Jordanian MP, Yahiya al-Soud, admitted on TV that
he was the “phone operator” for the king’s intelligence service, receiving
orders by phone and conveying to other MPs what to do and say, and how to
Jordan’s parliament – barely a façade for the king – has recently
launched a verbal war on one of the very few Palestinians in the parliament,
Muhammad Dawaymeh, because he reportedly visited Israel on its independence day
and met with President Shimon Peres. The Jordanian parliament members have
described Dawaymeh as “a Zionist and a traitor.”
Jordanian media demonized the man ruthlessly. Further, famous Jordanian
journalist Maher Abu Tair published an article in which he suggested the leak
about Dawaymeh’s Israel visit came from the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. Abu Tair is a regime-celebrated journalist, and the king’s personal
friend, having flown with the king to meet President Barack Obama in 2012.
Nonetheless, Abu Tair is now demanding “all of those who normalized ties with
Israel be exposed retroactively.” Abu Tair cannot and would not take up such a
notion without the king’s direct approval.
On May 8, 2013, the Jordanian
parliament voted unanimously in favor of petitioning the government to expel
Israel’s ambassador in Amman and recalling Jordan’s ambassador to Israel. The
parliament alleged the petition was in protest of “Israeli desecration of holy
sites in Jerusalem.” Jordanian parliamentarians went as far as demanding the
annulment of the entire peace agreement with Israel.
A few hours after
that, dozens of protesters were seen approaching the Israeli Embassy in Amman,
waving Jordanian flags and threatening to storm the embassy.
the protests were allowed to stand within dozens of meters of the Israeli
Embassy under the watchful eyes of the Jordanian police. A senior member of the
Jordanian anti-regime movement, who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity,
confirmed that some of those protesters were familiar Jordanian intelligence
operatives, dubbed “Sahijah” by Jordanians, and known for physically attacking
anti-regime Jordanian protesters.
It seems Jordan’s king is trying to
play on Israel’s fears; he is making his mouthpieces and puppet parliament send
messages to Israel that there will be “hell to pay” if Abdullah
Abdullah’s poor knowledge of the country he rules (which he admits
in his interview with Goldberg) seems to have gotten to him. He thinks he can
ignite people’s hatred for Israel to save himself, while at the same time
scaring Israel with the monsters that would rise against it the day after the
What Abdullah does not understand is the fact that his
Palestinian majority has a problem with him and the way he treats them as
subhuman, and that therefore Abdullah’s beating the anti-Israel drum will not
deter Jordan’s East or West Bankers from toppling him.
chooses to ignore that Israel’s security has never been dependent on any Arab
regime’s goodwill. Even with Jordan, Abdullah’s father, Hussein, had peace with
Israel only because he attacked Israel first and lost, a lesson Abdullah does
not seem to have learned. Thus, Israel’s military superiority is what has kept
its borders with Jordan safe, and this will remain Israel’s only guarantor,
whoever rules Jordan after the king falls.
Abdullah should wake up and
realize that beating the Israeli piñata will not save his ailing throne. Instead
he should finish up picking his spoils and perhaps consider a decent exist
strategy through which he can maintain his lavish lifestyle in exile.
writer is a Jordanian-Palestinian writer and activist living in the UK.