King Abdullah_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Alexander Natruskin / Reuters)
Promises made by Jordan’s King Abdullah to change how the government elects its
cabinet is not a significant step, and the media is overplaying the
announcement, a Hebrew University professor said on Monday.
David, a lecturer and research fellow at HU’s Harry S. Truman Center for the
Advancement for Peace, who specializes in Jordan, said that Abdullah “has done
bigger things in the past.”
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“Also, pay attention to how he presented this
move; he didn’t give a deadline,” David continued. “There is a difference
between saying something is an endgame and actually giving it a
timeline. There is no blueprint for democracy, or anything more than
According to the professor, Jordan’s likely approval
for membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council political and economic union
would “seal the fate” of any reforms that he would potentially make, and that
membership in the union would provide the Hashemite Kingdom with the budgetary
assistance to shore up its finances and provide for its citizens.
Monday, Abdullah’s motorcade reportedly came under a hail of rocks and bottles
thrown by a mob in southern Jordan, a report that was denied by Amman. David
said such an incident is also not unprecedented.
On Sunday, Abdullah said
he would continue to advance democratic reforms, but that pressure from street
protests is a recipe for chaos.
Abdullah said he supports a new electoral
reform recommended by a governmental committee that would allow a parliamentary
majority to elect the cabinet, as opposed to the monarch himself.
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hope these recommendations ensure a modern electoral law that leads to a
parliament that is representative of all Jordanians,” he said.
witness the changes in the region, this demands making a difference between the
required democratic changes and between the dangers of chaos and sedition
(fitna) on the other,” Abdullah added. “Our reformist vision is through speedy
reforms that respond to our peoples desires... away from recourse to the street
and the absence of reason.”
As it stands today, Jordan’s parliament is
elected under laws that ensure a pro-government assembly composed of tribal
loyalists, and maintains an under-representation of Jordan’s cites, mostly
inhabited by Palestinians.
The monarch has faced pressures for reform
calls from the Islamists – the country’s largest political force to leftists and
tribal figures – to relinquish his extensive powers, ranging from appointing
cabinets, to dissolving parliament.
Nonetheless, Jordan has largely
avoided much of the turmoil that has swept through the Arab world since January,
with the protests that took place earlier in the year mainly about corruption
and reform, rather than a desire to unseat Abdullah, who commands widespread
popular support in the country.
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