The following was taken from Jspace.com, which is providing exclusive coverage of the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference. The article was written by Jspace Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Rob Lattin, who also blogs about Israeli and Middle Eastern foreign policy for Foreign Policy Blogs.
While Cairo and Damascus are burning, things in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan seem somewhat stable. However, at an information session about the future of the Kingdom, former Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Oded Eran and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s David Schenker expressed reservations about the Arab country’s future.
Ambassador Eran stated that Jordanian King Abudllah II faces three serious problems. First, he faces mounting criticism and complaints from his own support base, made up mostly of Bedouin and non-Palestinians.
“They aren’t calling for the removal of the regime, or even calling to curb the King’s power. They are using the Arab Spring to try and get more economic benefits from the government. They understand the regime is vulnerable and sensitive to all signs of protest, so they are going to the streets and demonstrating,” Eran said.
Second, the king is facing major pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood, who is largely responsible for organizing the weekly protests in Amman. Their lasting success, according to the ambassador, will largely depend on the success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Third, the economy is failing. While it is “staying afloat,” it is a result of an infusion of cash from the Saudi and United States governments.
Schenker stated, “there is no guarantee the king is going to make it out of this, but he’s doing all the right things to help the odds.” He first pointed to the fact that not a single protestor has been killed by the police force. The king has sent his forces to monitor, and at times break up, protests without firearms. While they have been forced to use objects like bats or clubs, Schenker states the fact that no one has died is quite significant.
Schenker also pointed to positive reforms that the king has made within parliament and the electoral process. Like Egypt, though, economics lies at the heart of the protests and “people are still lighting themselves on fire in Jordan,” Schenker said.
It is also unclear what the status of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty would be if the King fell. Israeli officials are patiently waiting to see what happens.