Four years ago, I asked few questions concerning the Arab Spring from the Jordan Royal family on the renowned social site Tumblr. My question was straight regarding the ongoing chaos created by the first wave of the Arab Spring, which began in 2011 from Tunisia. I asked the question from the crown prince of Jordan Prince Hussein bin Abdullah “Do you think the Arab Spring is over? His response was quite ambiguous he replied instantly “It has ended years ago; I don’t think there would be another Arab Spring-like that”. Soon after the answer, I asked another question, how do you see the political future of your family in Jordan in the face of growing democratization in the Middle East? The response to this question was quite superficial, the crown prince responded, our family is a beacon of liberal democracy in the Middle East and the people in Jordan love their king.
The recent speculation about the coup attempt on media has shown that neither ordinary people nor his close family members are satisfied with governing structure under the incumbent King. The recent coup attempt from King Abdullah’s half-brother Prince Hamza bin al-Hussein clearly illustrates the ongoing political strife and crisis in Jordan.
In his three minutes video speech, the ex-crown prince Hamza bin Al-Hussein briefly explained the ongoing socio-political and economic crisis in Jordan. He started his apologetic speech with these words, “I told the chief of the army this morning when he visited me that I am not the person responsible for the for the breakdown of the governance, corruption and the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15-20 years, which is getting worse by the year”. The crown prince continued “I am not the person responsible for the lack of faith people have in their institutions—they (ruling elite) is responsible”.
The coup attempts in Jordan are not a new phenomenon; the most famous of all was the famous coup attempt of 1970 by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) during the Jordanian Civil War. Likewise, a few months ago, a series of house arrests and detentions went public, when the regional media channels speculated about the arrest of few royal family members and their associates for an alleged coup attempt. However, the recent detention of his highness Prince Hamzahbin Hussein raised major questions concerning the future of political stability in Jordan.
Historically, the ruling Hashemites have played a key role in the region, as an American ally, Jordan supported the US war on terror policy and very recently supported the US campaign against the Islamic State in Syria. Hence, from a strategic standpoint, the political stability in Jordan is quintessential for the security and peace in the region. For Jordan’s western allies, the political stability in Jordan is a prerequisite to balance the geopolitical competition in the MENA region.
Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that if the political instability emerged in Jordon whether through a palace coup or public demonstrations then it might bring serious repercussions for the political and strategic stability in the region. Perhaps, this is why, soon after the mainstream media outcry about the political situation, Jordan’s regional and global allies release the statement in support of the ruling family.
The political stability in Jordan is important when it comes to larger geopolitical interests of the major powers in the region especially the United States. Moreover, despite fragile economic conditions Jordan has hosted approximately 1 million Syrian refugees and closely working with regional peace brokers for peace and stability in Syria.
However, the worsening economic condition in Jordan amidst the Coronavirus pandemic is fomenting societal pressure and hence political instability. Weeks ago, thousands of protestors took the streets despite a strict curfew imposed by the regime in the capital city, Amman demanding the resignation of the government and enchanting the slogans “Hamza Save our nation”.
Indeed, the worsening economic condition in the country is giving a blissful opportunity to the opposition parties to pressure the ruling elites. Hence, it is time the governing structure in Jordon must reconsider its long-standing fragile policies in order to stave off the forthcoming political chaos in the country. Although, since the ascendance tothe royal throne in 1999, King Abdullah attempted to reform the Jordanian economy but failed to transform the crony bureaucratic structure. Thus, today one of the major reasons behind the breakdown of governance and high corruption is the crony bureaucratic elites in the Jordanian system, which must be replaced to reform the overall ruling structure.
In contrast to the above, it can be said that the major challenge to the rule of King Abdullah comes not from his half-brother rather crony bureaucratic elite, which might become one of the major reasons behind the political instability in Jordan soon. Hence, if the revolution outbreaks in Jordan, then it might bring serious geopolitical and strategic repercussions for the whole region. Lastly, the new wave of rising political infest amidst the Coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East can give birth to Arab Spring 2.0, which seems about to begin.