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 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.”
CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.