Throughout its contemporary history, Jordan has been heavily influenced by external events. The modern state itself was the result of British imperial ambitions in the Middle East. Anxious to create a land bridge between British-controlled oil fields in Iraq and the Mediterranean coast, the territory of Transjordan was created in 1921.1 During the 1920s and 1930s, Jordanian politics continued to be profoundly affected by British colonial policies in the region. By the 1940s, politics in Jordan began to be dominated by the growing conflict between Zionism, Arab nationalism and Palestinian nationalism. This conflict continued to dominate the Jordanian political scene until Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait created another source of instability to the east. Since the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Jordan has been caught between crises in Israeli-Palestinian and American-Iraqi relations, in a regional environment of almost continual instability.
The al-Aqsa intifada and the American “war on terror” have largely shaped the rule of Jordan’s new monarch, Abdullah II, who ascended to the throne following the death of his father, King Hussein, in 1999. Like his late father, Abdullah is pursuing a regime-survival strategy that depends heavily on securing economic benefits such as increased aid, trade and investment from Western countries, particularly the United States. However, unlike his father, who chose to remain neutral in the 1991 Gulf War, Abdullah lent strong indirect support to the Bush administration’s diplomatic and military campaign against Saddam Hussein in 2002 and 2003. By offering this support, as well as by cooperating with President Bush’s policies towards Israel and the Palestinians, the king has sought the economic assistance necessary to build a stronger economy that will provide more jobs, wealth and opportunities to Jordanians. The king not only hopes to improve the standard of living of his subjects but, more important, to win their support for his regime and his political vision for Jordan’s future.
THE AL-AQSA INTIFADA, 2000-2001
Although the al-Aqsa intifada and the “war on terror” have clearly fostered significant reverses in Jordan’s liberalization process, the overall trend of deliberalization began much earlier. Some analysts attribute this trend to pressures associated with the Israeli-Jordanian peace process, while others stress the Jordanian regime’s efforts to contain the Islamist movement or secure the interests of the kingdom’s political and economic elite.2 While these analysts differ on the factors they choose to emphasize, they do not differ on when Jordan’s illiberal trend began: the early 1990s. However, during the 1990s, the regime’s repressive efforts largely targeted only those individuals and organizations opposed to the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty and normalization with Israel. Since the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada, and especially after 9/11, the regime’s focus has shifted from containing the opponents of normalization to a policy that seemingly seeks to eradicate popular dissent of any kind.
The outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada in October 2000 led to numerous public demonstrations in support of Palestinian resistance to Israeli military occupation, some as far away as the southern city of Maan. Protestors across the country called on the government to close down the Israeli embassy and break diplomatic ties with Israel. After several demonstrations in late October ended in violence, the government banned public demonstrations in November.3 Despite the government ban, protest measures in the form of “behind-closed-doors rallies” and “sit-ins” continued. Questions about Jordan’s peace treaty were even raised in the loyalist dominated Lower House of Deputies. On December 13, fourteen members of parliament formally called for an open debate on the peace treaty with Israel. Although the motion was easily defeated, the fact that a formal motion was put forward at all demonstrates the degree to which popular opinion towards Israel had become inflamed.4
The continuation of Israeli-Palestinian violence into 2001 led to further tension between the government and those opposed to normalization with Israel. In late January 2001, Jordanian police arrested several members of the professional associations’ Anti-Normalization Committee (ANC), charging them with being “members of an illegal association.” The arrests followed the committee’s January 21 publication of an extensive “blacklist” of individuals, businesses and organizations doing business with Israel. Despite several clear and direct government warnings to the ANC not to publish such lists, the organization’s leaders decided to proceed with this course of action, apparently encouraged by the government’s failure to follow through on threats of legal action following the publication of a shorter list earlier in the month.5
Further examples of de-liberalization prior to 9/11 were continuing government efforts to ban public demonstrations and the introduction of the 2001 Electoral Law. In April 2001, the Interior Ministry banned “activities that pose a threat to security and stability and hamper the people’s interests.”6 The first test of this new ban came on May 11 when several organizations planned demonstrations to mark the fifty-third anniversary of the Palestinian nakba or “catastrophe.” In Amman, police used dogs, tear gas and water cannons to disrupt two rallies organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Action Front (IAF), sending dozens of individuals to the hospital for treatment.7
Throughout the summer, authorities continued to aggressively discourage any public rallies against Jordan’s ties with Israel. On August 28, one month after King Abdullah’s dissolution of parliament in preparation for planned parliamentary elections, the government issued a temporary law on public assembly. The new law stated that “any meeting debating public issues” required official approval from the local governor at least 48 hours prior to its scheduled start. Furthermore, the governor’s decision would not be subject to appeal, and authorities retained the right to use force to disperse an officially approved meeting as well as impose prison terms or fines on those violating the law.8
Another temporary law, the 2001 Electoral Law, demonstrated the regime’s continued commitment to manipulating elections to reward its supporters and punish its opponents. The new law raised the number of seats in the Lower House of Deputies from 80 to 104, increased the number of constituencies from 21 to 45, and lowered the voting age from 19 to 18.9 Despite these changes, the new law’s preservation of the “one person, one vote” formula and continued overrepresentation of rural areas demonstrated the regime’s unswerving determination to ensure a parliament dominated by loyalists. The opposition’s criticism of the new law went unheeded, leading to an internal debate about whether to participate in the upcoming elections or continue an electoral boycott.
Between October 2000 and August 2001, the government of Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb imposed comprehensive bans on public demonstrations, arrested activists opposed to normalization with Israel, and issued two new temporary laws that signified the government’s unwillingness to tolerate organized public dissent or make any compromises with the political opposition. The bans on public demonstrations were a direct result of popular unrest associated with Israeli policies to suppress the al-Aqsa intifada and the Jordanian government’s unwillingness to curtail its diplomatic ties to Israel. In addition, the January 2001 arrest of ANC activists was a further example of the government’s commitment to suppress any organized dissent against normalization. However the issuance of a new public-assembly law and a new electoral law as temporary laws was by far the most significant indicator of the growing illiberal trend in Jordanian politics. Both laws could easily have been debated while parliament was still in session, but, as was the case when the electoral law was amended in 1993, the government and the palace deliberately waited until parliament was dissolved to issue the laws so as to avoid a public debate on each. In doing so, the regime clearly demonstrated that promised democratic reforms were to be sidelined once again by “regional circumstances.”
JORDAN: WAR ON TERROR
U.S. Campaign in Afghanistan
Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, King Abdullah II quickly pledged Jordan’s solid support for the U.S. war on terrorism. In a September interview with CNN, the king noted that in December 1999 Jordanian security forces had arrested several individuals allegedly linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization and thereby thwarted several planned terrorist attacks against Western targets in Jordan. The king added that these arrests “allowed us to uncover a series of operations in Europe, the U.S. and Canada which immediately, obviously, we coordinated with those countries agencies. We managed through team work to be able to intercept those operations.”10 Thus, Jordan would not only be a willing ally in the American war on terror but an effective one as well.
In contrast to the king, the religious opposition in Jordan publicly opposed cooperation with the U.S. campaign. On September 16, the IAF issued a statement condemning the loss of innocent life in the 9/11 terrorist attacks but also warning Arab and Islamic governments not to join any retaliatory actions by the United States. The IAF’s Sharia Clergymen Council even went so far as to issue a fatwa “forbidding any co-operation” with the United States in what it called “its aggression on Islamic nations.”11 In an effort to prevent further public opposition to the U.S. campaign, the Jordanian security forces rounded up dozens of Islamists and replaced many of the kingdom’s imams with government appointees in the week preceding the American military offensive in Afghanistan.12 Further government efforts to thwart popular opposition included two new temporary laws. The first, issued September 29, codified an already existing policy of discouraging public demonstrations. The new law required the organizers of rallies and demonstrations to request permission from the provincial governor, 72 hours in advance, for the right to assemble. As with the previous policy on demonstrations, organizers would have no right of appeal against the governor’s decision.13 The second law amended the Penal Code to include wider definitions of terrorism and publication crimes. According to this law, “terrorism” would now be defined as
the use of violence or the threat of violence aimed at harming public security; or endangering public safety and security to instill fear among the public; or endangering their lives and security; or inflicting damage to the environment, or public and private installations and buildings, or international installations and diplomatic missions; or occupying any of them; or endangering national resources; or obstructing the implementation of the constitution and law.
The amendment further defined “publication crimes” as:
Every piece of writing, speech, or news broadcast in any media, or published in a newspaper or any publication, that could harm national unity or instigate crimes or harvest hatred and divisions among individuals; or instigate ethnic and racist jingoism; or harm the dignity, reputation or personal freedoms of individuals; or spread false rumors; or instigate unrest, protests and illegal public meetings; or any act that could harm the image or reputation or dignity of the state.14
Punishments for transgressors of the new law included heavy fines and prison terms as well as the possible closure of publications. Given the vague language used in these definitions and the severe punishments promised for the committing of either crime, it is not surprising that public criticism of the American military campaign in Afghanistan was subdued. Faced with heavy fines and prison terms, Jordanian daily and weekly publications toed the government line during the Afghanistan campaign, while the political opposition sought to organize only one outdoor rally, on November 9. Permission was denied.
Not to be outdone, the opposition attempted, unsuccessfully, to use its law-abiding behavior for political advantage. In mid-November, following the government’s announcement of its intention to send Jordanian troops to help with peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan, opposition leaders announced they were planning to file a lawsuit charging that such a deployment was a violation of the 1964 Armed Forces Law. Before the opposition could file the lawsuit, however, the cabinet issued another temporary law that amended the 1964 statute so that the army could be dispatched to assist “the forces of another country on the request of its legitimate government and rescuing the victims of war and natural disasters in other countries.”15 The government argued that it was only eliminating a legal loophole that had come to its attention in 2000 following the dispatch of peacekeeping troops to Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, opponents argued that the move was another attempt by the government to ingratiate itself with the United States in hopes of generous economic rewards in the future.
Broadly speaking, government policies during the fall of 2001 demonstrated a return to the Jordanian regime’s pre-1989 playbook. Prior to 1989, the regime relied on an “authoritarian bargain” that offered citizens and key interest groups economic security in exchange for political loyalty.16 In contrast, during the period from 1989 to 2001, the regime relied on varying degrees of political liberalization in order to gain popular acceptance of economic austerity and adjustment policies.17 Since September 11, 2001, however, the regime has once again returned to a strategy of “cabinet rule” via temporary legislation and a strong reliance on the police and security courts to roll back political freedoms and stifle dissent.
One important difference between then and now is that political repression this time has had to be carried out in the absence of the high levels of rentier income that served as the economic foundation of the pre-1989 strategy.18 However, the Hashemite regime has effectively used more limited amounts of aid and revenues from its privatization campaign to help pay for a new socioeconomic development plan launched in 2002. More important, the fact that nearly all of this limited aid came from the United States and its allies helps explain Jordan’s alignment with U.S. policies towards Israel and the Palestinians as well as Iraq since 2000.
Political Economy of Regime Survival
On October 25, 2001, a new socioeconomic plan was announced in an eleven page letter from King Abdullah to Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb. The letter was broadcast in full on state television and printed in the major newspapers on the following day.19 In the letter the king gave the prime minister and his government three weeks to create “an integrated socioeconomic plan aimed at reducing unemployment and poverty in the country, as well as improving the quality of life of Jordanians generally.”20 In an effort to combat potential misuse of these development funds, the king also wrote:
There is going to be a new way of doing business that the government is going to have to achieve. Government employees should understand that there is a new, transparent and effective work ethic to be followed, and those who do not comprehend should vacate their positions as there are scores of others willing to work in a professional way for the good of the country.21
With these words the king sought to assure citizens that this plan and its implementation would receive the utmost attention from the government and the palace. Moreover, the king’s explicit reference to a “new work ethic” was designed to assure the public that unlike past plans, this initiative would not fall victim to bureaucratic corruption and nepotism. In a further sign of the king’s personal commitment to the success of the plan, Prime Minister Abu al-Ragheb was dispatched to Tokyo on October 28 to solicit Japanese support for the plan, while the king himself met with the ambassadors from donor countries in an effort to win their backing as well.22
On January 13, 2002, the new socioeconomic plan and a $3.21 billion 2002 budget were approved by the cabinet. A total of $422 million was allocated to the new plan. The biggest recipient of funds was higher, primary and vocational education at $159 million. In addition, $58 million was allocated to infrastructure construction, $41 million to social services for the poor, $30 million to municipalities, $23 million to water resources, and $15 million to industry and investment.23 Most important, the vast majority of this new spending was to take place in rural areas, where most of the regime’s Trans Jordanian political base resides. Although it is also true that the rural areas inhabited by Trans Jordanians are among the poorest in the country and well-deserving of greater spending, it is highly improbable that political considerations did not play a significant role in the creation of the plan.
Regardless of the motives behind the socioeconomic plan, a January 2002 public opinion poll by the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) indicated that the king’s economic and political efforts were not in vain. The CSS poll surveyed citizens’ attitudes about the government’s handling of the economy, particularly the issues of creating employment, reducing poverty and promoting foreign investment. The final results of the poll indicated that 72.6 percent of those surveyed approved of the government’s economic performance.24
One-third of the funding for the plan was to come from future privatization revenues, while the remaining two-thirds was to be covered by foreign aid. 25 As if on cue, in early 2002 the Bush administration officially requested that Congress double the total amount of U.S. aid (economic and military) to Jordan from $225 million in fiscal 2002 to $448 million in fiscal 2003. This increase made Jordan the fourth-largest recipient of U.S. aid behind Israel, Egypt and Colombia.26 In spite of Uncle Sam’s newly stated generosity, the Abu al-Ragheb government announced in April 2002 that funding for the socioeconomic plan would be cut by one-third due to “delays in securing financing from bilateral donors.”27
A correlate of the new socioeconomic plan was a series of government actions designed to improve the political status of Jordanian women. As part of the 2001 campaign to reform the administration of municipalities, at least one woman was appointed to each of the 100 newly created municipal councils. According to Abdul-Razzaq Tbeishat, minister of municipal, rural and environmental affairs, the government’s motive for appointing women to the municipalities “was to give more women the chance to gain ‘experience and credibility’ in local government and then to stand for municipal elections, due in 2003.”28 Further examples of the regime’s progressive goals for women were several amendments to the Personal Status Law, the penal code and income-tax laws. The changes were inspired by proposals made by the Royal Commission on Human Rights in late 2001.29 The amendments raised the minimum age for marriage for men and women to 18 from 16 and 15 respectively. They also expanded women’s rights in divorce proceedings.30 As of 2002, Jordanian women would be able to file for divorce in civil court without having to provide evidence of irreconcilable differences. The amendments also made it easier for Jordanian women to obtain a divorce in Sharia (Islamic) courts. The new amendment took away the power of Islamic courts to judge a woman’s reasons for applying for divorce. Instead the religious courts would now have to seek to reconcile the couple following a woman’s filing for divorce. If these efforts fail, the courts are obliged to grant female applicants a divorce within 30 days. “In return the woman must return her dowry and forfeit her financial entitlements listed in the marriage contract.”31
While these changes met with immediate opposition from religious and social conservatives, the government’s efforts to promote women as political candidates and give them greater civil rights seem to be part of the regime’s overall strategy of generating broad popular support. While the new socioeconomic plan largely targeted the regime’s rural, conservative, Trans Jordanian base, the initiatives helping women would play well with the king’s young, liberal supporters in the urban areas, particularly in Amman. With parliament suspended, the regime was able to avoid the kind of political opposition to the Personal Status Law amendments that it faced when it attempted to revoke amendment 340 of the Penal Code in early 2000.32 At that time, secular conservative and Islamist members of the Lower House blocked revocation of the amendment despite strong implicit support for the legislation from the palace. Thus, in an ironic twist, illiberal political policies made it possible for the king to reward his most liberal constituency.
Jordanian Anger in 2002
By far the most pressing challenge for the government during the spring of 2002 was containing popular anger at Israel following the multiple incursions of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) into the West Bank. The incursions, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon’s answer to several suicide bombings by Palestinian militants, left hundreds of Palestinians dead and whole neighborhoods in ruins. Covered live by Arab satellite television stations, the carnage caused by the incursions fueled popular fury in Jordan and other Arab states. Moreover, Israel’s high-profile sieges of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah compound in April and the Church of Nativity in May further compounded popular anger within Jordan and the Arab world.
In the two weeks following the beginning of the Israeli offensive on March 29, nearly 400 public demonstrations in support of the Palestinians took place in Jordan. One demonstration, a “solidarity march” to the headquarters of UNICEF in the capital, was even led by Queen Rania herself.33 In light of the Jordanian public’s acute anger at Israeli policies, Jordanian officials relaxed the ban on demonstrations, consistently using force to disperse only those crowds heading towards the American and Israeli embassies. Moreover, the official media reported opposition statements critical of Israel and even publicized planned demonstrations against Israeli and U.S. policy towards the Palestinians. Newspapers published photographs of King Abdullah and Queen Rania loading supplies for Palestinian victims of the IDF while also reporting on the king’s “round the clock” diplomatic efforts to secure an Israeli withdrawal from West Bank cities and end its siege of President Arafat.34 The government’s tolerance of peaceful demonstrations, the king’s diplomatic efforts, and especially the use of Jordan as a transshipment point for supplies to Palestinians from across the Arab world helped the regime to counteract opposition voices calling for a severance of ties with Israel.35
However, as the crisis entered its third week and Jordanian diplomatic efforts proved impotent, officials became more and more concerned about the potential for greater popular unrest and began denying permission for further demonstrations. On April 10, Prime Minister Abu al-Ragheb met with leaders of the “National Coalition for the Support of the Intifada” in an attempt to convince them to call off a future demonstration. The organization, an alliance of sixteen political parties and fourteen professional associations, had planned a major demonstration near the Israeli embassy on April 12. During the meeting between the prime minister and the coalition’s leaders, King Abdullah unexpectedly arrived and made it clear to the leaders of the coalition that their demonstration would “destabilize national unity and security” and would therefore cross a “red line.”36 Despite King Abdullah’s direct intervention in the dispute, the coalition announced its intention to go forward with the demonstration. On the day of the event, security forces cordoned off all areas within a 10-kilometer radius of the site. In an effort to avoid the possibility of violence, coalition leaders called off the demonstration.37 Following this incident, the government maintained a heavily armed security presence in the capital, especially in the area surrounding the Israeli embassy. This presence effectively deterred further unlicensed demonstrations in the area leaving the rest of April virtually “demonstration-free.”
While the government’s security forces were being used to curtail Jordanians’ rights to assemble peacefully, a controversial court case demonstrated the government’s commitment to keeping individual speech within “accepted norms.” On March 16, 2002, former member of parliament Toujan Faisal was arrested after accusing Prime Minister Abu al-Ragheb of corruption. Ms. Faisal, a long-time and outspoken critic of government policy, found herself in violation of a new amendment to the State Security Law that barred public criticism of government officials. On May 16, a three-judge tribunal, one military judge presiding over two civilian judges, sentenced Faisal to 18 months in prison for
broadcasting false and exaggerated news abroad deemed harmful to the dignity of the state and its reputation; writing and publishing false information and rumors that disparage the state and its reputation, as well as harming the dignity of its individuals and their reputation and instigating unrest; and slandering the judicial authority.38
In its verdict, the State Security Court cited Ms. Faisal’s publication of an article in the U.S.-based Arab Times in which she alleged that Prime Minister Abu al-Ragheb and other officials would benefit financially from a recent government decision to increase insurance premiums for motor vehicles by 200 percent.39 The court also cited comments Faisal made during a visit to Iraq in which she stated that Jordan’s Iraq policy “varies like the stock-market.”40 After the verdict was handed down, Faisal’s supporters said they would challenge the new amendment to the State Security Law at the Higher Court of Justice, since the new law also denies those convicted to sentences under three years the right to appeal the State Security Court’s decision. However, her supporters did not express much optimism that the Higher Court would even hear the case, prompting one supporter to say that the verdict “was the final nail in the coffin of democracy in Jordan.”41
A further indication of Jordan’s increasing political de-liberalization was the government’s summer 2002 decision to postpone parliamentary elections for the second time. In August 2001, the government said that it needed time to adapt to several changes in electoral procedures made that year. Citing the introduction of a new electoral law in July that increased parliamentary seats from 80 to 104 and doubled the number of districts as well as the need to modernize electoral procedures by issuing magnetic identity cards to all Jordanian citizens, the government announced that elections would be delayed until all “procedural preparations” were accomplished.42 Two months later, the government announced that elections would be delayed for one more year due to “regional tensions.”
Given the continued violence between Israelis and Palestinians and Jordanian fears of an American strike against Iraq after September 11, proceeding with the elections in late 2001 probably would have led to an increase in the number of seats controlled by the opposition parties, making it more difficult for the regime to pursue cooperation with the U.S. war on terror. According to one Jordanian analyst,
[In postponing the elections] the government wanted to avoid what it calls “emotionally charged sentiments that allow the spread of extremist agendas” by candidates seeking popular approval. “Extremist” refers to those who seek the revocation of the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty and who criticize U.S. policy on Israel and Iraq – which means much of the opposition to the government and its policies.43
Given the regime’s fear of a parliament dominated by the opposition, it was not surprising when “regional circumstances” were used to justify postponing parliamentary elections once again in 2002. On August 16, 2002, King Abdullah made a televised address informing the country that the elections would be delayed until the spring of 2003.44 According to the king,
We last year deemed appropriate to postpone parliamentary elections until a modern elections law is finalized and the necessary arrangements are in place to conduct elections. When this was concluded, we found that the difficult regional circumstances dictated that we postpone these elections, if only for a while, although we sincerely wished for different circumstances that would enable us to conduct elections on time. But our wish for these elections to be free and fair, and unaffected by regional influences and circumstances, left us no choice but to postpone them.45
The political opposition immediately criticized the government’s decision, calling it “another blow to democracy,” arguing that the government’s unwillingness to hold elections during times of regional conflict was specifically aimed at keeping opposition voices out of the legislature.46 The following section will demonstrate that this second decision to delay parliamentary elections was part of a broader strategy designed to ensure a loyalist parliament that would not oppose or undermine the domestic and foreign policies the regime deemed necessary for its long-term survival.
THE “JORDAN FIRST” CAMPAIGN
Origins and Meaning of the Concept
During September 2002, Jordanian citizens began to see posters and billboards of a Jordanian flag being held aloft by the hands of Jordanians from various backgrounds with the Arabic slogan al-Urdun Awalan (Jordan First) written at the top. This picture was the symbol of a new government campaign designed to encourage Jordanians to focus more on domestic considerations such as education, socioeconomic development, combating political corruption, and participation in the national political process. The first hint of this campaign was seen in the same August 16 royal address, in which the king postponed the parliamentary elections for the second time. In his speech it is possible to see what would later become the core of the Jordan First campaign:
I have told you when I was honored with shouldering the responsibility, that I have dedicated myself to your service, to achieve your noble aspirations in continuing to build the modern Jordanian state which would provide a free and decent life for every citizen living on its soil and belonging to it. This aim cannot be realized unless each one of us understands his/her national duty, and until we all work in a one-team spirit. We all belong to Jordan and work to build it, regardless of differences in opinions or positions. If we wish to retain a strong Jordan, capable of facing all attempts to tamper with its security and stability, we have to safeguard our national unity, which is built on the unity of vision and goals, on belonging to this homeland of all Jordanians, a homeland where the spirit of justice prevails, as well as equality, equal opportunities, respect for human rights, no preference to any over another, except for the extent of his/ her productivity, belonging and ability to participate and contribute to our national process.47
Put simply, the campaign called for a Jordan unified in its diversity with a collective focus on improving every citizen’s standard of living through hard work, the provision of equal opportunity and an unswerving commitment to a national interest defined by the government and the Hashemite regime.
On October 30, the Jordan First campaign was officially launched via a royal letter to Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb. This letter called for the creation of a national committee responsible for generating the means to convey and implement the ideas behind the Jordan First campaign.48 After nearly a month and a half of deliberation, the committee recommended that the government introduce a parliamentary quota for women, establish a Constitutional Court, amend the 1992 Political Parties Law, reform national education curricula, improve the training of judges, encourage the merger of political parties, and increase public and press freedoms.49 Not surprisingly, nearly all of these recommendations fit neatly with the regime’s priorities for the past several years.
Since the king’s ascent to the throne in 1999, the anti-normalization activities of the kingdom’s professional associations had been an obstacle to his efforts to promote foreign investment. In an effort to marginalize the associations and their political agenda, the Abu al-Ragheb government has consistently called upon the associations to focus more on their professions and less on politics. However, the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada and the declaration of America’s war on terror after September 11, 2001, put added pressure on the government to quiet the voices of the associations, as they were the most vocal critics of the government’s stance on the al-Aqsa intifada as well as Jordan’s increasing alignment with U.S. policies towards Afghanistan and Iraq. Thus it is not surprising that the specific amendments to the Parties Law recommended by the Jordan First Committee sought to strengthen political parties vis-àvis the professional associations. The proposed amendments included making interaction between the government and political parties regular and institutionalized, increasing the number of signatures necessary to register a party, and making government financing proportional to the party’s size and influence.50
The committee’s recommendation of a Constitutional Court was also designed to indirectly strengthen the parties by making them more politically relevant. Since the introduction of the 1992 Political Parties Law, both loyalist and opposition parties had complained about the absence of an independent judicial body expressly responsible for resolving constitutional disputes between the government and civil society. This recommendation was a specific response to such criticism and designed to motivate the parties to play a more significant role in the upcoming elections.51 Finally, the committee’s suggestion of party mergers merely formalized the king’s previously declared “vision of a future political arena with three strong groups, representing the right, center and left of the political spectrum” so that citizens would be better able to evaluate the parties’ platforms and agendas.52
The most controversial recommendation by the committee was its call for a parliamentary quota for women. While quotas for ethnic and religious minorities have long been a part of the Jordanian political scene, none have provoked the amount of debate seen over the proposed women’s quota. Proponents of the measure argued that, of the 32 female candidates who have sought national political office since 1989, only one, Toujan Faisal, has succeeded. Given this record, a quota was necessary to overcome Jordanian society’s biases against female candidates. Advocates for the measure said that a quota was the most effective way to give Jordanian women an equal opportunity to win political office. Opponents, both male and female, argued that a quota would stigmatize the women who win such seats, marginalizing them politically.53 Given such fears and concern that a conservative backlash against a quota could help the Islamist opposition win seats, the prime minister assured opponents of the measure that such a quota, if implemented, would be “temporary and transitional.”54 Nonetheless, the regime’s support for a women’s parliamentary quota seemed to be a further part of its strategy to build political support among the kingdom’s urban political liberals dissatisfied with the recent reversal of many public freedoms and the 2001 Electoral Law’s continued overrepresentation of rural districts.55
Other statements by the king and government officials during the press conference in which the Jordan First Committee’s recommendations were made public offered further clarification of the campaign’s political implications. During the press conference, the king announced that parliamentary elections would take place in the spring of 2003 “because holding them at this time is essential to the establishment of the concept of Jordan First.”56 The essential role to be played by elections in the Jordan First campaign was very likely a product of the king’s knowledge of the impending U.S.-led war with Iraq and President Bush’s commitment to pursue a Mideast peace initiative following the end of this war. The king and his advisers seem to have been gambling that a decisive American military victory against Iraq in early 2003 and the unveiling of the Roadmap to peace following this victory would present a prime opportunity to isolate the parliamentary election campaign from destabilizing external events that might help the opposition win more seats in parliament.
In anticipation of these coming events, the Jordan First strategy was designed to ensure that the 2003 parliamentary campaign would focus only on domestic issues and avoid discussion of the types of regional events that would help the political opposition. While discussing the concept of Jordan First in December 2002, Planning Minister Bassem Awadallah
explained that the new national motto is meant to encourage candidates and voters to concentrate on doable and practical platforms for domestic change, rather than focusing the whole debate and spending all energies on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Iraq crisis.57
In short, debates about regional issues that could help the political opposition win seats are, according to the concept of Jordan First, inconsistent with the national interest.
In response to critics who said that Jordan First called for a wholesale abandonment of pan-Arab causes, the king and government officials countered that the best way to support the Palestinians and Iraq was to build a strong Jordan by focusing on the economy and making Jordanian citizens more productive through educational reform. According to a statement made by King Abdullah II in November 2002,
a strong Jordan will be a strong support for the Palestinians in their struggle against the Israeli occupation and for defending the Iraqi people against the U.S. threats to launch a new war.58
The concept of Jordan First established a new foundation for the practice of Jordanian national politics. According to the doctrine, the ideal citizen, candidate, member of parliament and civil organization makes national concerns, as defined by the government and the regime, rather than regional concerns the top priority. Through its emphasis on domestic priorities, Jordan First offered an innovative political strategy that mixed elections with repression in an effort to ensure a loyalist parliament that would allow the Hashemite regime to continue its support of American policies in an effort to secure the economic benefits essential to the regime’s long-term survival.
Putting “Jordan First” into Practice
While the Jordan First strategy is clearly a response to the indirect threats posed by regional events over which the regime has no control, it is primarily a strategy for overcoming the obstacles posed by domestic groups opposed to the policies that the regime has deemed essential to its security and survival. In brief, these policies are the maintenance of normal ties with Israel, alignment with U.S. policies toward the Middle East, and active support for the American war on terror. By pursuing these policies, King Abdullah hopes to secure what he has deemed essential to the survival of his regime and his kingdom: increased Western economic and military aid, greater foreign investment and continued American support for rescheduling and reducing Jordan’s foreign debt. While the Hashemite regime has faced considerable opposition from groups and individuals opposed to normalization and U.S. policies in the past, three recent policies pursued by the regime indicate that it is even more committed to aggressively confronting domestic groups engaged in activities that pose threats to the implementation of its overall survival strategy.
The first policy was a November 2002 military operation against what the government described as a “gang of outlaws” in the southern city of Maan. The conflict was set in motion following the attempted arrest of Muhammad Chalabi, an Islamic activist who organized a rally in support of Osama bin Laden during the Afghanistan campaign, near Maan on October 29 following the assassination of American diplomat Laurence Foley on October 28. Reportedly, Mr. Chalabi was attempting to take his wife to a hospital in Amman when he was stopped by police at a roadblock for driving without a license plate. According to Maan governor Muhammad Breikat, Mr. Chalabi then shot at the police and fled. Later Mr. Chalabi was apprehended following another shootout with police in which he was injured in the shoulder. Mr. Chalabi was then taken to a Maan hospital, where several gunmen freed him from police custody.
Following Chalabi’s escape, government officials reportedly spent two weeks trying to persuade tribal leaders in Maan to hand him over to the authorities. In its negotiations with these tribal leaders, the government denied that Chalabi was a suspect in the Foley assassination, saying that he was only wanted for questioning regarding a January 2002 attack on a police station in Maan. Following the leaders’ refusal to turn Chalabi over, the government imposed a curfew on the city and staged a military raid on November 10 to apprehend Mr. Chalabi and other men wanted for arms smuggling.59 The military operation led to pitched gun battles between security forces and “hundreds of masked, armed youths” in the city’s center.60 By November 12, the fighting had moved to the eastern outskirts of the city, where Mr. Chalabi and four other armed men were seeking to escape from the city.61 During the operation, security forces arrested 50 individuals, including eight non-Jordanians, and confiscated large quantities of weapons, including several antitank and rocket-propelled grenades allegedly buried at the home of Mr. Chalabi.62 The next day, November 13, the Council of Ministers declared Maan to be an arms-free zone and authorized the police, in accordance with the 1952 Firearms and Ammunition Law, to collect all arms, including those use for hunting, from the city’s residents.63
In order to better understand the political significance of this event, it is necessary to evaluate the various explanations offered for the government’s actions. The official version, as described by Minister of the Interior Qaftan Majali, is that the campaign “was meant to put an end to the long suffering of the people of Maan due to the crimes committed by the armed gang [allegedly led by Chalabi] . . . including drug trafficking, armed robberies and terrorizing of citizens.”64 Despite the government’s claims that the operation was neither related to the assassination of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley on October 28 nor part of a wider effort to combat terrorism, the timing of the operation and reports in American news media cast considerable doubt on these claims.
According to the official version of events, the apparent “trigger” for the government’s decision to use the military to apprehend Muhammad Chalabi and his alleged gang of outlaws was the refusal of Maani tribal leaders to hand over Chalabi and other wanted men. However, completely absent from media reports and official statements is an explanation as to why it was so important to apprehend Chalabi and his followers in late October 2002. Despite the government’s claims about the arms trading, drug trafficking and other criminal activities allegedly committed by Chalabi and his followers, the government never presented evidence that these activities posed such a grave threat to public order that an unprecedented military operation against a small group of criminals was necessary at that particular time.65
The government’s only concrete justification for the timing of the operation was offered by Interior Minister Majali: “Because of the huge number of violations committed by this gang, the people of Maan demanded protection.”66 However, media reports and official statements failed to identify any persons or groups in the city that had made such a call in early November. Moreover, during an official tour of the city on November 15, Jordanian police consistently prevented foreign journalists from interviewing residents of the city. Throughout this tour, journalists heard residents shouting abuse at the police escorts and accusing the military of engaging in “indiscriminate violence and destruction” during the week-long operation.67 One final departure from the official version of events can be seen in various American media reports. Several articles cited anonymous statements made by security officials involved with the Maan operation who characterized it as “aimed at putting behind bars those who might foment unrest or carry out sabotage in the event of a U.S. war against Iraq.”68 Other security officials anonymously described the raid as a government effort to “put things in order before the possible war on Iraq.”69
While the regime’s desire to apprehend an armed gang in a city with a reputation for rebellious behavior is certainly understandable, the Jordan First strategy has serious implications for peaceful political opposition groups as well. A case in point is the government’s actions towards the Council of Professional Associations’ Anti-Normalization Committee, or ANC for short, during the fall of 2002. On October 7, 2002, three members of this committee were arrested and charged by the State Security Court with “belonging to an illegal organization” and engaging in activities harmful to the national economy.70 A week later, in a meeting with the head of the Council of Professional Associations, Fadel Nayrukh, Prime Minister Abu al-Ragheb offered to free the three committee members if the professional associations would agree to dissolve the ANC. Mr. Nayrukh categorically rejected the offer.
Not to be deterred by the professional associations’ unwillingness to cooperate, the prime minister submitted an inquiry to the Higher Court’s Special Bureau for the Interpretation of the Law “as to the legality of the associations’ right to carry out political activities.”71 On November 28, the Bureau issued a ruling stating that “there is no legal foundation [in the law governing professional associations] for establishing political committees.”72 Based on this decision, the prime minister declared that the ANC was illegal and that its members could no longer carry out their antinormalization activities. Critics of the government’s decision said the Bureau’s verdict was vague and open to more than one interpretation. Moreover, they noted that nowhere in the Professional Associations Law are such political committees forbidden.73
Some good news for the professional associations was that the three members of the ANC who were arrested on October 7 were released on bail soon after the government’s November 28 announcement of the Bureau’s verdict. More bad news soon followed, however, as the Higher Court of Justice dissolved the Jordan Engineers Association’s ten-member council and all of its subcommittees. The announcement was a major blow to the Islamist movement, which controlled all ten of the council’s seats. The court’s decision was motivated by a petition filed by eleven members of the Jordan Engineers Association that questioned the legality of the April election results.74 In reviewing the petition the Court found that the elections were held before the association’s by-law amendments were formally adopted and were therefore invalid. Two days later, on November 30, the government appointed a committee to administer the Jordan Engineers Association until new elections could be arranged.75
While the government’s actions in Maan and towards the ANC during the fall of 2002 were indicative of the regime’s willingness to use repression against potential sources of opposition, the government’s policies leading up to the U.S.-Iraq war and the June 17 parliamentary elections offer further insight into the new era of Jordanian politics spawned by the Jordan First campaign. In January 2003, as war clouds gathered on the kingdom’s eastern border, members of the Abu al-Ragheb government attempted to use Jordan First to set the political tone with statements and speeches stressing the government’s efforts to avoid a war and reiterating the need for a “strong home front.” In a speech to the Senate on January 25, Prime Minister Abu al-Ragheb
called on civil society institutions, including political parties, professional associations, and the media, to deal with the current stage with utmost responsibility, giving top priority to the interests of the country and its people.76
This speech was quickly followed by statements from Interior Minister Qaftan Majali in which he warned the kingdom’s political parties not to put their own interests above those of the country, calling parties that do so an obstacle to the kingdom’s security and stability. According to Majali,
Regrettably, the fact that these parties have failed in advocating their programmes and have become isolated from the issues of real concern to people has made them survive on crises and hide behind national unity slogans waiting for the first occasion to stir sedition [emphasis added] among the people in order to implement the agendas of external forces.77
Thus, as in the November disturbances in Maan, those organizations or individuals that dared to oppose or criticize the government’s cooperation with the United States regarding Iraq were to be considered treasonous “outlaws” manipulated by external actors.
Immediately before the outbreak of the war, the government continued to pressure potential elements of opposition to put “national unity and stability” before anything else. On March 16, Ahmad Hulayel, minister of Awqaf and Islamic affairs, called upon the kingdom’s imams to gear their sermons “towards enhancing national unity and countering rumors under the present difficult circumstances facing the region.”78 The “rumors” cited by the minister referred to local speculation that thousands of American troops were gathering on the kingdom’s border with Iraq. Throughout the months leading up to the war, the Jordanian government was constantly on the defensive, first denying that any troops whatsoever would be based in Jordan and then grudgingly admitting that a “few hundred” American troops would be based in Jordan but only to man the three Patriot antimissile batteries loaned to Jordan by the United States.79
One day before the beginning of the war, the government amended the restrictive 1998 Press and Publications Law to allow for speedier prosecution of journalists who commit publication crimes.80 This amendment was an apparent attempt to insure that coverage of the war by the local press would stay within the “red lines” drawn by the government. In order to further guarantee that local coverage of the war and popular responses to the war would be “responsible,” King Abdullah gave a nationally televised speech on March 21 in which he said:
Now that what we have been warning about and working to prevent has occurred, our prime obligation is to preserve the security and stability of our homeland and protect its top interests. This demands, before anything else, to solidify our internal front, protect our national unity . . . . Let us all be one hand, one family, one heart, and let us work in the spirit of one team in order to preserve our security and stability, our internal front and to deal with what accompanies such circumstances from rumors and fallacious or inaccurate news in a sense of awareness and responsibility.81
In short, citizens from all walks of life needed to join together in national unity, behave responsibly, and ignore any news reports deemed fallacious or inaccurate by the government.
The regime’s efforts to encourage Jordanians to behave “responsibly” during the war seemed to bear fruit as most rallies and demonstrations directed their ire against the United States and Britain rather than the government’s cooperation with American military efforts. In a bid to distract the public from Jordanian logistical support for the American military effort, the government widely publicized King Abdullah’s efforts to halt the conflict. In fact, the only significant political challenge that emerged during the war was a March 31 petition signed by 95 of Jordan’s most prominent political figures, including several former prime ministers as well as some leaders of the political opposition, calling on the king to declare the war against Iraq “illegal.” According to Jordanian columnist Jamil Nimri, the initial draft of the petition was “quite tough” but was later revised to produce a “more balanced” text that would be acceptable to a broad range of individuals.82 While individual motivations for signing the petition probably ranged from sincere outrage over the government’s stance on the war to a desire to gain public notoriety before the recently announced June 17 parliamentary elections, the wide spectrum of signatories to the document posed a clear challenge to the Abu al-Ragheb government as well as the leadership of King Abdullah II.
The regime responded quickly to this unusual show of defiance. The initial response was a royal interview with the official Petra News Agency on April 2 in which the king defended Jordan’s stance in the war and sought to dispel rumors regarding the presence and actions of American troops in Jordan. In response to a question regarding the petition, the king said,
I am a Muslim, an Arab, and a Hashemite. No one can outbid my concern for my people and nation. I would like to assure my people that the principles that we have been raised on have never changed and will never change. No country has supported Iraq like Jordan. We had said ‘no’ to attacking Iraq when many said ‘yes.’ We have not changed our position rejecting this war.83
In this interview, the king plainly sought to reassert his authority and demonstrate that in comparison to other Arab countries such as Kuwait and Qatar, Jordan’s stance on the war was consistent with the principles of nonaggression and pan-Arabism fostered by the Arab League. Prime Minister Abu al-Ragheb offered further defense of the government, saying that Jordan would not “allow any party to take advantage of the current situation to outbid the kingdom or question its pan-Arab stands.”84 Domestic allies of the regime also quickly came to its defense, filling the Arabic press with advertisements declaring their allegiance to the Hashemite throne. In addition, 104 former parliamentary deputies and tribal leaders signed and submitted a petition publicly stating their support for the king.85 Despite the seeming firestorm created by the first petition, the debate over Jordan’s stance on the war was quickly muted by the American capture of Baghdad on April 9 and later by the Bush administration’s Mideast peace initiative.
During May and June 2003, the Hashemite regime sought to refocus citizens’ attention on the national issues championed by Jordan First, particularly the need for economic development. Through the first six months of 2003, the regime took great pains to publicize its successes with rescheduling Jordan’s foreign debt and winning greater amounts of aid and investment from the West. On May 13, Jordan and the United States signed documents authorizing the release of $700 million in emergency aid to compensate Jordan for the negative economic impact of the war in Iraq. This transfer increased the total amount of U.S. economic aid to Jordan for 2003 to $950 million, the highest level of economic aid ever given to Jordan by the United States. The May 13 ceremony also saw the ratification of a bilateral investment treaty that would facilitate greater American investment in Jordan as well as the public announcement that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were providing Jordan with oil free of charge until July 2003.86
The announcement of this deal’s terms lent considerable weight to pledges of more jobs and greater public investment made by King Abdullah to tribal leaders during royal visits to the southern, central and northern Badia in May and June. According to news reports, the king’s trips were a series of visits designed to “keep open channels of communication with citizens to better address their concerns.”87 However, this series of visits seems to have been limited only to the tribal and rural areas of the kingdom rather than the cities. In light of this fact, these visits were undoubtedly an effort to encourage high levels of voter turnout among the regime’s rural Trans Jordanian supporters in the upcoming elections. Further evidence in support of this hypothesis was the king’s announcement of the establishment of the Hashemite Fund for Jordanian Badia Development on June 1, 2003. The king even donated $4.2 million of his own personal funds to help the organization begin functioning as quickly as possible.88
The regime’s efforts to focus the attention of Jordanian citizens, particularly those in tribal areas, on local and developmental issues in the lead up to the June 17 parliamentary elections proved to be successful, as candidates throughout the country emphasized local and national issues over regional ones. During the campaign, Jordanian political-science professor Husni Sheyyab described candidates’ campaigns as not being driven by any particular ideology but instead by pledges to provide “services” such as education, health care and government jobs to constituents. According to Sheyyab, even Islamist candidates were relying on this campaign strategy, particularly in smaller towns, where the appeal of tribalism is stronger than in the larger cities.89
In the end, candidates emphasizing “services” over ideology swept the elections. The more ideological Islamic Action Front, which focused its efforts primarily on winning seats in the larger cities, won only 18 of the 29 seats it contested. Independent Islamists won 6 seats, giving the religious opposition a significant percentage of the total seats – 22 percent – but only a politically marginal presence in the Parliament. In contrast, tribal and pro-government figures won a total of 62 seats for a 56-percent majority in the 110-seat Chamber of Deputies.90 Moreover, voter turnout rates in the rural areas ranged between 70 and 80 percent, while the two main urban centers of Amman and Zarqa only saw turnout figures in the 40-percent range.91 This gap demonstrates the regime’s continuing success at using electoral-law changes and development initiatives to mobilize its tribal base in the rural areas. Mobilization of this base has helped ensure loyalist majorities in every Lower House election since 1993. While loyalist parliaments help firm up domestic support for the regime, they also allow the regime to continue domestic and regional policies that help garner the economic support necessary to guarantee the Hashemite regime’s long-term survival.
In the four years since King Abdullah’s 1999 ascension to the Hashemite throne, a growing illiberal trend in Jordanian politics has become distinctly apparent. While the beginnings of this trend can be attributed to the authoritarian tendencies of the king’s first prime minister, Abdul Rauf Rawabdeh, the continuation of this trend under the more liberal-minded Ali Abu al-Ragheb government can be clearly attributed to the indirect impact of external factors, namely the al-Aqsa intifada and the American war on terror. Since the summer of 2001, the regime has deliberately ruled Jordan in the absence of parliament and relied on parliament’s dissolution to issue more than 130 new temporary laws such as the Public Assembly Law, the 2001 Electoral Law, the Armed Forces Law and amendments to the Penal Code that have significantly curtailed political freedoms. These new laws and increasing use of military courts to try political dissenters such as Toujan Faisal have created a political environment where citizens, the press and civil organizations fear that any criticism of government policy can lead to arrest, fines and imprisonment.
These actions have also enabled the regime to align Jordan solidly with U.S. policies toward the region and in doing so to become the third-largest recipient of American foreign aid and one of only four countries that enjoy a bilateral free-trade agreement with the United States. King Abdullah is gambling that the well-being of his regime and his citizens will best be secured by maintaining a close partnership with the United States. This gamble seems to have paid off: Jordan’s cooperation with the United States in the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq war caused only a minimal amount of domestic fallout. Moreover, the king can point to a record level of total American aid to Jordan, over $1 billion for 2003, and unprecedented American support for Jordan’s efforts to secure greater debt relief, aid and investment from the international community.92 These economic successes, combined with the triumph of pro-government candidates in the June 17 parliamentary elections, indicate that the new king’s survival strategy has proven very effective.
However, the increasing likelihood of Jordanians seeing split-screen television images of Israeli occupation forces in Palestine on one side and American occupation forces in Iraq on the other poses a potential obstacle to the success of Abdullah’s survival strategy. The Islamic opposition in the Lower House is sure to use Jordan’s alignment with the United States and Israel as a basis for criticizing the government’s regional policies. Moreover, a failure of the regime to deliver on promises of jobs and poverty reduction could once again lead to discontent among the regime’s Trans Jordanian base. Assuming that the simmering conflicts in Palestine and Iraq do not boil over and that the regime’s economic-development efforts deliver more jobs and a better standard of living for Jordanians, it is unlikely that any serious challenges to the government or the Hashemite regime will arise. Should any of these assumptions prove false, however, the regime is likely to find itself between the proverbial rock and a hard place once more.
Author’s Note: In addition to the written sources cited below, this article relies heavily on the insights gained from field research conducted in Jordan from 1989-1990, 1995-1996 and during the summer of 1997. The author would also like to thank Rex Brynen, Ellen Lust-Okar, Marc Lynch, Curtis Ryan, Jillian Schwedler and Jeffrey Vandenburg for helpful comments made on an earlier version of this paper.
1 An excellent study of this period is Mary C. Wilson’s King Abdullah, Britain, and the Making of Jordan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
2 Laurie Brand, “The Effects of the Peace Process on Political Liberalization in Jordan,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 28, Winter 1999; Abla Amawi, “The 1993 Elections in Jordan,” Arab Studies Quarterly, Vol. 16, Summer 1994; Lawrence Tal, “Dealing with Radical Islam: The Case of Jordan,” Survival, Vol. 37, Autumn 1995; and Glenn E. Robinson, “Defensive Democratization in Jordan,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 30, 1998.
3 Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Report: Jordan, November 2000, p. 14-15, and February 2001, p. 13.
4 “Intifada Jitters,” Middle East International, December 22, 2000.
5 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, February 2001, p. 14; and “Naming and Shaming,” Middle East International, February 9, 2001.
6 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, June 2001, p. 16.
7 Ibid; and “Violent Crack-Down,” Middle East International, May 18, 2001.
8 “In the Doldrums,” Middle East International, August 31, 2001.
9 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, September 2001; and “Electoral Law Disappoints,” Middle East International, July 27, 2001.
10 “Jordan Lends a Hand,” Middle East International, September 28, 2001.
11 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, December 2001, p. 13.
12 “Taking No Chances,” Middle East International, October 12, 2001; and “Tightening the Screws,” Middle East International, October 26, 2001.
13 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, December 2001, p. 15.
14 “Taking No Chances.”
15 “Troops to Mazar,” Middle East International, December 21, 2001.
16 Laurie Brand, “Economic and Political Liberalization in a Rentier Economy: The Case of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Privatization and Economic Liberalization in the Middle East, eds. Iliya Harik and Denis J. Sullivan (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1992) ;and Rex Brynen, “Economic Crisis and Post Rentier Democratization in the Arab World: The Case of Jordan,” Canadian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 25, March 1992.
17 For a more thorough examination of the regime survival strategy pursued during this period, please see Scott Greenwood, “Jordan’s ‘New Liberal Bargain’: The Political Economy of Regime Security,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 57, No. 2, Spring 2003.
18 In the case of Jordan, “rentier income” refers to direct sources of national income such as bilateral and multilateral aid as well as indirect sources such as workers’ remittances.
19 “The King Wants a Plan,” Middle East International, November 9, 2001.
20 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, December 2001, p. 20.
21 Ibid., p. 21.
22 “The King Wants a Plan.”
23 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, March 2002, p. 21.
24 Ibid., p. 19.
25 Ibid., p. 21.
27 Ibid., June 2002, p. 19.
28 Ibid., December 2001, p. 16.
29 Ibid., p. 17.
30 Ibid., March 2002, p. 16.
31 “Yearender: Steps Forward for Women,” Jordan Times, December 31, 2002.
32 This amendment allows lenient sentences for men that murder female relatives allegedly caught in the act of fornication or adultery. “Questions of Honour,” Middle East International, February 25, 2000, and “Backlash or Ploy?” March 10, 2000.
33 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, June 2002, p. 14.
34 Ibid., and “Severing Ties?” Middle East International, April 5, 2002.
35 “Quiet on the Streets,” Middle East International, May 17, 2002.
36 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, June 2002, p. 15; and “Public Anger,” Middle East International, April 19, 2002.
37 “Public Anger.”
38 “Shameful Verdict,” Middle East International, May 31, 2002.
40 EIU, Country Report: Jordan, June 2002, p. 17.
41 “Shameful Verdict.”
42 “Elusive Election,” Middle East International, June 14, 2002.
44 This decision followed a July 2002 meeting between King Abdullah II and President Bush in which the latter made it clear to the king that United States was committed to disarming Saddam Hussein by force. According to several media reports, this meeting convinced Abdullah that war between the United States and Iraq was inevitable and that he must take the steps necessary to protect his regime and his kingdom. In an April 23, 2003, interview with Dan Rather of CBS news, King Abdullah confirmed that President Bush made his intentions towards Iraq “very clear.” The full text of this interview can be accessed at: http:// www.jordanembassyus.org/hmka04232003.htm.
45 “Address by His Majesty King Abdullah II to the Nation, August 16, 2002, Amman, Jordan,” accessed from: http://www.jordanembassyus.org/hmka08162002.htm.
46 “Polls Put Off Again,” Middle East International, August 30, 2002.
47 “Address by His Majesty King Abdullah II to the Nation, August 16, 2002, Amman, Jordan.”
48 “Jordan First Will Be Working Plan to Promote Loyalty – King,” Jordan Times, October 30, 2002.
49 “King Directs Government to Implement Jordan First Recommendations As Soon As Possible,” Jordan Times, December 19, 2002.
51 For example, just prior to the committee’s recommendations being made public, Prime Minister Abu al-Ragheb met with the leaders of a centrist bloc of five parties that had threatened to dissolve by February 2003 due to the perception that the government’s policies over the past year were intentionally marginalizing political parties. Following the meeting, the leaders of the bloc stated that they were rescinding their decision to disband in light of the prime minister’s commitment to support political reforms that would make parties more relevant. For more on this issue, see “King, Government Keen on Developing Political Scene,” Jordan Times, December 17, 2002.
52 “King Directs Government to Implement ‘Jordan First’ Recommendations As Soon As Possible,” Jordan Times, December 19, 2002.
53 “Women’s Parliamentary Quota Proving to be a Double-Edged Sword,” Jordan Times, January 5, 2003.
54 “King Briefed on Government Plan to Translate ‘Jordan First’ Concept into Reality,” Jordan Times, December 23, 2002.
55 In 2003, the government adopted a quota of six seats for women for the June 17 parliamentary elections. However rather than antagonize opponents of the quota by “taking away” 6 of the existing 104 seats, the government simply added 6 “at large” seats, thereby increasing the total membership of Lower House of parliament to 110 members.
56 “King Directs Government to Implement ‘Jordan First’ Recommendations As Soon As Possible.”
58 “Jordan First, a New Course of Fostering Relations,” The Star, November 21-27, 2002.
59 “Several Killed in Clash with Jordan Police,” The New York Times, November 11, 2002; “Jordan Police Search for Radicals,” The Washington Post, November 12, 2002; “Broad Manhunt in Jordan Isolates, and Angers, a Town,” The New York Times, November 16, 2002; and “The Battle of Maan,” Middle East International, November 22, 2002.
60 “Three Dead in Clashes in Jordan’s Maan City,” The Washington Post, November 10, 2002.
61 “Jordanian Troops Battle Do-or-Die Islamists,” The Washington Post, November 12, 2002.
62 “Majali: 50 Suspects Detained in Maan,” Jordan Times, November 13, 2002.
63 “Maan Declared Arms-Free Zone,” Jordan Times, November 14, 2002.
64 “Police Arrest Suspects in Major Clampdown on Criminal Activity in Maan,” Jordan Times, November 11, 2002.
65 While the November 2002 operation was certainly not the first time that the military was used to bring about public order in Maan – riots in 1989 and 1996 led the government to call out the military to restore order – this was the first time since the 1970 Civil War that the government used the military to apprehend an organized group of militants. Moreover, government efforts in 1970 were directed at radical Palestinian militias publicly calling for the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy. In contrast, the December 2002 operation used military force to arrest a small group of alleged outlaws engaged in, according to official statements, non-political activities.
66 “Broad Manhunt in Jordan Isolates, and Angers, a Town,” The New York Times, November 16, 2002.
67 “Police Raids Anger Jordan Citizens,” The Washington Post, November 15, 2002.
68 “Two Dead in Clashes in Jordan’s Maan City,” The Washington Post, November 10, 2002; and “Jordanian Troops Battle Do-or-Die Islamists.”
69 “Jordan Police Search for Radicals,” The Washington Post, November 12, 2002; and “Jordan Continues ‘Radical’ Crackdown,” The Washington Post, November 12, 2002.
70 “The King’s Quest,” Middle East International, November 8, 2002.
71 “Blow to the Syndicates,” Middle East International, December 20, 2002.
74 “Government Moves Against the PAs: Anti-Israel Committees Deemed Illegal,” The Star, December 5-11, 2002.
75 “Blow to the Syndicates.”
76 “Strong Home Front Guarantees Ability to Overcome Challenges,” Jordan Times, January 26, 2003.
77 “Parties Prioritizing Own Interests an Obstacle to National Security,” Jordan Times, January 26, 2003.
78 “On the Eve of War,” Middle East International, March 21, 2003.
79 “PM: ‘Few Hundred’ U.S. Troops to Man Patriot Batteries,” Jordan Times, February 25, 2003.
80 “Amendment to Press and Publications Law Nullifies Article 41,” Jordan Times, March 19, 2003.
81 “Speech by His Majesty King Abdullah II to the Jordanian People, March 21, 2003, Amman, Jordan,” text accessed from: http://www.jordanembassyus.org/hmka03212003.htm.
82 “Opposites Attract on Petition to Declare War on Iraq Illegal,” Jordan Times, April 1, 2003.
83 “Official Translation of the Transcript of HM King Abdullah’s Interview with Petra News Agency, April 2, 2003, Amman, Jordan,” text accessed from: http://www.jordanembassyus.org/hmka04022003.htm.
84 “Regional Situation Requires Solid National Front – PM,” Jordan Times, April 3, 2003.
85 “Pledges of Allegiance to King Fill Dailies, as 2nd Petition is Submitted,” Jordan Times, April 4-5, 2003.
86 “$700m U.S. Aid Deal Signed,” Jordan Times, May 14, 2003.
87 “King Meets Tribal Chiefs in South,” Jordan Times, May 16-17, 2003.
88 “King Announces Establishment of Fund for Economic, Social Development of the Badia,” Jordan Times, June 2, 2003.
89 “Ideologies and Tribalism Divide Voters Between Rural, Urban Districts,” The Star, June 12-18, 2003.
90 “King’s Allies Triumph in Jordan Elections,” The Washington Post, June 18, 2003.
91 “58.87% of Eligible Voters Take Part,” Jordan Times, June 18, 2003.
92 The American aid figure for 2003 includes $950 million in economic aid and $198 million in military aid.