Jordan Is No Egypt

Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - 08:58 AM

The Jordanian king’s recent dismissal of the Prime Minister triggered dramatic statements by the press, asking “is Jordan next?” While the political change in Jordan seems to fit into the narrative of Tunisia and Egypt inspiring protests all over the Middle East, in reality, the change is a regular part of Jordanian politics.

Ex-Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s has been in his position for about a year and a half, which is actually a standard length of time for any one person to be a Prime Minister in Jordan. The media is making it seem like a dramatic event occurred, when this change is actually all standard procedure.

Not one person I spoke to in Jordan was surprised about the change of government—in fact, there were murmurings that Rifai was going to be dismissed even before the Tunisian protests because he was a very unpopular Prime Minister. News headlines that the king has sacked the entire government admittedly seem shocking when out of context. Dismissing all the ministers is also standard protocol whenever a Prime Minister leaves office.

Even the protests that were held in Jordan were 100 percent peaceful and completely non-disruptive. They were held on the weekends by a relatively small number of people. The participants were primarily demonstrating against higher prices and the Prime Minister. Protests are a normal part of the political landscape in Jordan. The truth is, I have faced more disruption to my day-to-day life in New York City when the United Nations General Assembly is in session.

Yes, there is tension and frustration amongst Jordanians. And yes, people have been protesting in the streets, but their demands are for reform, not revolution. It feels like Jordan has the flu, a perfectly normal thing for any country to go through, but rumors have spread that Jordan’s suffering from a terminal cancer, and I find myself constantly explaining the difference to people.

I don’t mean to belittle the suffering of Jordanian people. In fact, there are some similarities between Jordan and Egypt and that should not be ignored. People in Jordan, like in Egypt, have been suffering through widespread unemployment and rising prices. They have stood by as a muddled election process made them feel voiceless. But Jordanians still firmly believe in the monarchy and in the way the country has been run.

Egypt’s instability caused Jordanians to worry about what Jordan might look like in the future if reforms don’t happen now. Through their protests, they are trying to prevent Jordan from becoming Egypt in the future, but by no stretch of the imagination do they think that Jordan looks like Egypt now.

Tala Al-Husry is a Jordanian freelance producer and journalist living in Amman, Jordan. She went to New York University and previously interned at WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show.


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Comments [3]

tete h. tetens jr.

Tala Al-Husr

You talked about Jordan and Egypt,

I thought back to something I read that I thought was very important.

I wonder of the 5 or 6 things you find in what's below that you like, which one or two do you think is most important to help share.

I'm sorry this wasn't briefer.

Gibran may have been almost 100 years ahead of his time.


Mirrors of the Soul – Translated Joseph Sheban –1965 – 65-10658

The feudal system disappeared in both the political and religious life of Lebanon. It is now an independent state with its president and parliament elected by the people. Some of the stories and articles written by Gibran fifty years ago are a matter of history, but others are as modern as today's political situation, remaining timeless.

On the walls of many American homes hangs a plaque commemorating the statement of the late President John F. Kennedy:

Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.

This statement appeared in an article written by Gibran in Arabic, over fifty years ago [in 1915]. The heading of that article can be translated either "The New Deal" or "The New Frontier."

. . .

"The New Frontier"
by Gibran

There are in the Middle East today' two challenging ideas: old and new.

The old ideas will vanish because they are weak and exhausted.

There is in the Middle East an awakening that defies slumber. This awakening will conquer because the sun is its leader and the dawn is its army.

In the fields of the Middle East, which have been a large burial ground, stand the youth of Spring calling the occupants of the sepulchers to rise and march toward the new frontiers.

When the Spring sings its hymn the dead of the winter rise, shed their shrouds and march forward.
. . .

The Middle East, today, has two masters. One is deciding, ordering, being obeyed; but he is at the point of death.

But the other one is silent in his conformity to law and order, calmly awaiting justice; he is a powerful giant who knows his own strength, confident in his existence and a believer in his destiny.

There are today, in the Middle East, two men: one of the past and one of the future. Which one are you?

Come close; let me look at you and let me be assured by your appearance and conduct if you are one of those coming into the light or going into the darkness.

Come and tell me who and what are you.

Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country.

If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in a desert.

Are you a merchant utilizing the need of society for the necessities of life, for monopoly and exorbitant profit? Or a sincere, hard-working and diligent man facilitating the exchange between the weaver and the farmer? Are you charging a reasonable profit as a middleman between supply and demand? ...

There is more but I'm only limited to 3000

Mar. 16 2011 03:40 PM

yislam tummik!

Feb. 06 2011 03:12 AM
tatiana from Berlin

Nice to hear REAL news coming from journalists who are REALLY on the spot.

Feb. 03 2011 03:30 AM

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