Is the Muslim Brotherhood Behind Protests for a Change in Jordan?
Protests in Amman Jordan 11-16-12
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was rocked by four days of protests, a death, and more than 280 arrests culminating in a massive rally in Amman following Friday prayers. Is this a reflection of economic issues, the failure of Egypt to deliver cooking gas or ‘change’. If the case, is the Muslim Brotherhood poised to take over if King Abdullah II and the Hashemite Kindom falls? Is the US quietly holding behind the scene discussions?
"There is a thirst for change," Mark Toner, the deputy State Department spokesman said on Thursday. He added that Jordanians had "economic, political concerns as well as aspirations."
The WSJ account noted that the Amman protesters chanted:
Thousands of protesters turned out Friday, the fourth consecutive day of demonstrations across the country. In downtown Amman, the capital, a large group of protesters drawn from various groups including Islamists, leftist liberals and independents called for a "revolution," chanting, "People want the toppling of the regime."
The WSJ report went on to stress the economic factors:
Jordan has sidestepped the worst turmoil from the Arab Spring uprisings. But when the government cut fuel subsidies this week, discontent was stirred among a population suffering one of the region's highest rates of unemployment. The price increases that resulted pushed prices of cooking gas up more than 50%, diesel and kerosene by 33% and some grades of gasoline by 14%.
[. . .]
The government subsidy reductions were urged by international monetary authorities, to whom Jordan has turned for emergency loans, part of a plan to deal with an acute financial crisis. The government is coping with a record budget deficit, in part caused by the loss of a major gas pipeline from Egypt to recurrent sabotage by militants.
Rising global fuel prices and disruptions in gas shipments from Egypt have cost the government $5 billion, according to Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, and helped push the budget deficit to nearly $3 billion this year, or about 12% of Jordan's gross domestic product.
Since Tuesday, when the price increases were announced, protesters have clashed with police, burned tires, blocked roads and torched government buildings.
Then, we had this comment from a Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Islamic Action Front (IAF) activist at the protests:
Abdel Rahman Khasawneh, 40 years old, an activist with the Islamic Action Front (IAF), an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), said he was protesting against "the war of prices the government has waged on citizens."
He warned of serious repercussions for the monarchy. "Too much pressure will lead to an explosion. This is how it started in Tunisia, Egypt and ended in Damascus. God forbid, we don't want Amman to explode."
Jordan is headed for new parliamentary elections in January, so the issue may be will there be reforms and will the IAF and MB doing something to foment change.
One has to ask why the US has been in behind the scenes discussions with the leadership of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, if not to prepare for a Plan B should the Hashemite Kingdom fall.
Controller General; Sheik Hamamm Said
Jordanain Islamic Action Front Muslim Brotherhood
As noted in a new Geostrategy report, The US may be quietly helping Muslim Brotherhood opposition in Jordan:
The Gatestone Institute has raised the prospect that the Obama administration is encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood opposition in Jordan to clamor for power.
In a report, the influential institute said former CIA and other officials might have been meeting with Brotherhood controller-general Hamam Said.
“It might be helpful now to start wondering what sort of ideas Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, and its leader, Controller General Sheikh Hamam Said, will advance if they seize power in Jordan — possibly with the blessing and encouragement of the United States,” the October 26, 2012 report, titled “Jordan’s Next Leader? With Help from the U.S. Department of State,” said.
Authored by researcher Mudar Zahran, the report cited statements from an article by prominent Jordanian journalist Osama Al Rantisi. On July 14, 2011, Al Rantisi asserted that Said held a meeting in Turkey with recently retired officers from the CIA as well as Britain’s MI5. In May 2012, Al Rantisi provided further details for the Saudi-owned network Al Arabiya.
“Dr. Hamam Said and former Egyptian Brotherhood leader Dr. Kamal Halbawi had met last June [of 2011] in Istanbul, Turkey with former CIA deputy director Steven Kappes, and former MI5 chief Eliza Manningham-Buller,” Al Rantisi wrote. “The US government and its intelligence services will support the Muslim Brotherhood goals of coming to power.”
In 2008, Said, who hails from a Palestinian family, was elected leader of Jordan’s Brotherhood. The report said Said and his faction support the Palestinian Hamas as well as the overthrow of pro-U.S. regimes in the Middle East.
In mid-2012, Said’s son, Anes, posted a video on YouTube in which he attacked the Brotherhood leader. Anes, an architect, called his father “licentious and corrupt” and said the Brotherhood “trades in religion.”
The report cited U.S. Embassy cables that tell of contacts between American diplomats and Said’s close ally, Saud Abu Mahfouz. One cable, sent in March 2008, spoke of the rising influence of Said within the Islamic opposition.
“It would be illuminating to know what further communication there has been, and is today, between the U.S. administration and the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood,” the report, dated Oct. 26, said. “With a U.S. administration that has such a pronounced record of appeasing Islamists, it is not unlikely that Hamam Said will be accepted and tolerated by the U.S. establishment — at the expense of moderate Jordanians and the secular Jordanian opposition.”
If the Arab Spring comes to Jordan and the Hashemite Kingdom falls, Israel’s peace treaty will be in immediate jeopardy. Moreover, should secular Jordanian Palestinian opponents like Mudar Zahran fail in an effort to counterbalance the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Jordan, we only have ourselves and the Obama Administration to blame for another act of moral capitulation in the Middle East. Israel will truly be the canary in the mines of radical Islam, surrounded by mortal Jihadist enemies on all of its borders. Pity!