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Arab Spring knocking at Jordan’s door

December 5th, 2012
12:41 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

The Arab Spring has spared Jordan’s monarchy, but the foreign minister says it cannot be ignored.

“The Arab Spring has affected Jordan - a gentle breeze, as I keep saying, as opposed to the turbulent winds we saw in other countries,” Nasser Judeh told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Tuesday.

Small outbursts in Jordan have turned into increasingly large protests. Islamists have taken to the street, along side ordinary people who are protesting increasing utility costs, corruption and a lack of reforms.

Shouts that King Abdullah II must go have been heard, but Judeh dismissed them, saying “It's a few people who did that in an atmosphere of an angry reaction over lifting subsidies on fuel products. So it's unfair to say ‘the people are asking.’”

Judeh defended Jordan’s constitutional monarchy and went as far as to say that King Abdullah II is the consensus figure for the country.

“He's the guarantor of the reform process; he's the facilitator of dialogue. And at the end of the day, he's the one who's leading this reform process” Judeh told Amanpour.

Analysis: Jordan's King Abdullah faces crisis

He maintained that his government’s own actions spared Jordan the full wrath of the Arab Spring. “We preempted that with a reform process that was led by the king a few years ahead of the Arab Spring.”

Judeh maintained that Jordan has met the benchmarks for the reforms it set out. Critics call them perpetually cosmetic reforms, which are never fully enacted.

Since 2011, King Abdullah II has ushered in and out five prime ministers. A sixth one could be on his way in with the upcoming Jordanian elections. There is worry that significant groups of people may boycott the elections, mainly the political wing of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood.

In spite of that, the foreign minister stood firm on Jordan’s governance.

“Jordan is a monarchy, a constitutional monarchy that is enacting a program of reform that will bring about a parliamentary government that is truly representative of the people. I think you can't get more modern than that,” he told Amanpour.

Dangers of Syria for Jordan

Even though NATO is moving Patriot missiles along Turkey’s border with Syria, Judeh does not anticipate any type of aggression along his country’s border. Nonetheless, he said, Jordan is “watching the situation very, very closely.”

A quarter million Syrian refugees have sought refuge in Jordan since March of last year.

If Bashar al-Assad were to use chemical weapons against his citizens, which U.S. officials say they are increasingly concerned about, it would be “a game-changer,” Judeh said. “I think the world would come together instantly to react to this.”

He would not say whether that would propel the international community into intervention or targeted bombings.

“The end result is the same. If these weapons fall into the wrong hands or if they are used by the regime, it is an instant game-changer. Nobody will sit there and accept for these weapons to be used or for the region or regional players to be threatened by these weapons.”

The vacuum in Syria for extremists and other bad actors worries Jordan.

“We've got many cells of extremists and terrorists armed with sophisticated weapons and communication technology, trying to cross into Jordan. We're keeping a very vigilant control of our borders. We don't want to have anything slip through the net.”

Israel’s ‘E1’ Settlement

Judeh said that Israel’s announcement of a new settlement in East Jerusalem, coming just days after an upgraded Palestinian status at the United Nations, puts the two-state solution in jeopardy.

“It threatens the very concept of the contiguity of the would-be Palestinian state, because it divides the West Bank into two halves.”
In spite of critical international response, even from Israel’s closest ally the United States, Israel say they will carry out the order to build the settlement.

“I hope to God that it isn't,” Judeh said. “The only way to resolve this issue is through negotiation and through delineating and agreeing on a border between the would-be state of Palestine and Israel.”

Q and A: Inside Israel's planned settlement

CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Israel • Jordan • Latest Episode • Syria
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Mounir FahmyName*

    The name should be as follows :
    The Arab Spring ILLUSION as it is man made manipulation and Stimulation.

    December 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  2. Arab American

    Since our current King took office in 1999 everything in Jordan went downhill. He is surrounded by corrupt guys like this guy Judeh, they are distant from the ppl and out of touch, some of them even speak broken arabic. Imagine an American president with a broken english. They are all multi millionaires that made their millions/ billions from the public service. One of them just recently sold his house for 12 million dollars. A country with an annual deficit that exceeds 3 billion dollars allows a royal court employee to own a 12 million dollar home given that the guy doesn't own a private business.  They obused Jordan so bad that our economy is on the  verge of collapsing. Our average annual income per capita doesnt exceed 6000 dollars not to mention that most of our day to day necessities are more expensive than the ones in most of the big cities in the U.S. An average Jordanian cant enjoy a new pair of pants these days. Jordanians are not really living, the only reason they are still breathing is because they don't want to die. The reform talk is all bull, the regime and its men are brilliant when it comes to dealing with the western media, always delivering this rosy pictures about Jordan and the King, sometimes they are even better politicians than the westerners themselves. As a Jordanian I see a corrupt system that historically has been supported, supported to a point were we could lose the value of our currency, and instead of real change every time we always choose the easy way out where we run to the gulf countries begging literally begging for help and today we are doing the same. Our regime has given many excuses for the Muslim brotherhood to strengthen in Jordan which is another problem in our country. Many ppl here dont support the muslim brotherhood but will be forced to go under their leadership one day if this regime keeps on practicing the same agendas with the same support group. Since the 1950s the regime and governments have been fighting all sources of opposition but the Muslim brotherhood, and now they are biting their nails and we as moderates paying the price. We are now stuck between a rock and a hard place. It's sad to see this country go down like this because of bunch of unqualified losers that are in control,  this country once had the best talent in the region, most of it is in the West today paying their taxes over there , and the rest are on their way. Sad to also see the American government doing nothing to offer real help to the Jordanian ppl. We are only partners when it comes to the interests of the Israelis and their security. This will not last forever, one day the ppl will say no. 10% already did. The rest are still blind yet hungry

    December 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Reply
    • Ed

      I hope your solution will not be another "Arab Spring"...which is now synonomous for letting Islamists think your situation is bad now, wait and see how bad it could get when millions of ignorant people seek to live under Islamic law...

      Hope your modern king continues with his reform. Jordan and the Jordanian people are great. Just do not turn Islamists on us...we want to see you flourish, not going back to the middle ages.

      December 6, 2012 at 2:48 am | Reply
  3. nadira da'as

    Every thing changed since king Abdullah became king. He changed the country for the better, Jordan is a modern country and the people are educated and are doing fine. His prime ministers and cabinet are very corrupt and a bunch of losers, but many of these losers are elected by the people who get money for voting for most of the people in office. The tribes issue should be solved first and the wasta (favours) should be dealt with. Every country in the world have a percentage of poor in it. But the poor in Jordan are a strange case..a big number of these will have three cell line and three cell phones and smoking 3 pack of cigarettes a day and buying things they can't offered. We in Jordan are not like Syria or Lybia or Egypt. In Jordan every thing is not as expensive as the United States. I lived for 11 years in Jordan and now I'm back in the USA in Jordan I lived a very good life on $1500 and I lived in Al Rabia area which is West Amman. I'm back in the Virgin islands and to live the life I had in Jordan I need $3500 a month. We know that there is problems in Jordan but we don't want to start killing people and destroying the country because of rise in prices. All over the world there is rise in prices..we have to wait and see what will happen. Our king is a very humble king he tries his best and really is loved by the people but some in the country are stirring trouble for their private agendas. I'm not a Jordanian so I'm not bias. I'm American Palestinian. May God protect Jordan and all the peace loving countries from the evils of some humans.

    December 6, 2012 at 12:12 am | Reply
    • Arab American

      What's modern about increasing our national debt from 10 billion dollars to 30 billion dollars?? Yes we are educated but no we are not fine. If we were fine you wouldnt be living abroad. Who picked our corrupt prime ministers? who picked our corrupt heads of the intelligence agency?? the people have no role in this and never had. Please get you facts right. These posts are only appointed by the King. The annual average income per capita is over 50 in the U.S, in Jordan it's 6 k a year. Its much easier to make 3500 in the U.S than 1500 in Jordan. It seems that you have been away for a while now. Plus who should've solved the tribes issue? Only the regime has the power to solve such issues. Listen we Jordanian are not looking to get rid of the Hashemite family, but we also want the proper leadership for our country, a leadership that is not interested in business deals. We want to save our King but he has to save himself first and being humble is not enough.

      December 6, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
      • nadira da'as

        I left Jordan last year. I grew up in America and went back to Jordan so my children could learn arabic and to be among their people. I saw first hand how people sell their votes in the south and they will choose representatives who make false promises. The south is very poor, but some of it is because people want to sit behind a desk and do nothing and get a good salary.I'm for peaceful demonstrations but when random shooting starts I don't want it to be another Syria. I left Jordan because of what happened to my daughter she was killed in the terrorist attack on Jordan I tried to stay but couldn't to many sad memories.I Love Jordan and I wish the best for it but please accept that some of our problems are also made by us and not the government.

        December 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • mustapha

      best wish sister

      December 6, 2012 at 2:03 am | Reply
    • Ed

      Dear Nadira,

      If you live in the US now, become an American. Enough about "Palestinians"...your future is not in the Middle East. Make new life where you are and move on from a troubled area and from he constraints of a troubled mindset of still being a refugee. The war is over...!

      December 6, 2012 at 2:55 am | Reply
  4. nadira da'as

    the people choose the corrupt people who represent them in office. Go to all the villages and see how they elect their representatives. Also all countries have debt but solve their problems without violence..I love Jordan and I just left it one year ago. We don't want the Muslim Brotherhood to rule.

    December 6, 2012 at 10:52 am | Reply
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