A Jordanian interlude

I said in my previous post that Yemen has been given short shrift by the Egypt-obsessed media (though not without reason). Recent protests in Jordan have also missed out on the limelight, though they may prove to be as successful (if not more) than the demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt. I know almost nothing about Jordanian politics; today's guest blogger knows a great deal. Dr. Catherine Warrick is Professor of Political Science at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She is the author of the book Law in the Service of Legitimacy, a brilliant scholar, and a friend of the Yemen Peace Project. She generously shares her observations on Jordan here: As protests have spread across North Africa and through the Arab world, news reports have speculated about whether Jordan’s regime will “fall” just as Egypt’s is poised to do. The short answer is “no” – and that’s probably a good thing. As delighted as we all are by the ouster of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, it’s important to keep in mind that these countries are not all the same. Even the protesters, inspired by similar conditions and taking to the streets with similar demands for reform, don’t all want the same outcomes.

Egyptians have made it clear from the beginning that Mubarak himself must go; the regime is deeply unpopular all the way to the top, and with nearly every sector of society. But Jordanian protesters, although serious about demanding reform, are not calling for the crown to topple. No one is demanding that the king step down – they’re demanding that he do a better job of addressing specific economic and governance problems. So far, he’s listening. King Abdullah has replaced his prime minister, Samir al-Rifa’i, condemned corruption, and promised reforms. If he follows through on these reforms quickly, this will likely be enough to satisfy most protesters in Jordan.

This is not to say that King Abdullah is particularly beloved throughout society, or that he can magically erase all of Jordan’s problems right away; he’s an authoritarian leader, not a fairy godfather. But he seems willing to do the job required of him in the present circumstances, and if he makes real reforms in Jordanian politics, then in the interests of peace and development, we should probably wish him well. --CW, 1 Feb. 2011

Rage and roses

While the eyes of the world have shifted from Tunis to Cairo and become fixated there for the time being, Yemen--always the global blind spot--has been stirring as well. The always-insightful Brian O'Neill has been blogging up a storm at Always Judged Guilty since last week; we at the YPP meanwhile have maintained a cautious quiet. It is far too soon to make predictions about what the ongoing public protests in Yemen will achieve, but it's clear that they will have a serious—and possibly permanent—impact on the larger political and social situation there.