Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Jordan's King Abdullah Attempts To Get Ahead of Protests

The problems that are racking Egypt with protests and riots can be found throughout the Middle East. Regimes that are not responsive or responsible to the people. Regimes that have excused their failing policies by blaming others - whether it is the US, Israel, or a combination of the two. Regimes that crush any and all opposition because they are perceived as threats to the regimes.

Jordan is no exception.

Now, Jordan's King Abdullah is trying to stave off the death rattle that currently swirls around Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. King Abdullah has fired his entire government.
Jordan's Royal Palace says the king has fired his government in the wake of street protests and has asked an ex-army general to form a new Cabinet.

King Abdullah's move comes after thousands of Jordanians took to the streets -- inspired by the regime ouster in Tunisia and the turmoil in Egypt -- and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai who is blamed for a rise in fuel and food prices and slowed political reforms.
The Royal Palace says Rifai's Cabinet resigned on Tuesday.

Abdullah also nominated Marouf al-Bakhit as his prime minister-designate. No other details were immediately available.

Demonstrators inspired by mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt had called for Rifai's dismissal.

"(Bakhit) is a former general and briefly ambassador to Israel who has been prime minister before. He's someone who would be seen as a safe pair of hands," said Rosemary Hollis, professor of Middle East policy studies at London's City University.

"I wouldn't see it as a sign of liberalization. With his previous premiership, he talked the talk of reform but little actually happened," she said.

Under fire from an enraged public over high food prices, Rifai announced wage increases two weeks ago to civil servants and the military in an attempt to restore calm.
It's anything but clear whether these steps will placate the Jordanian people, or whether even more drastic steps will need to be taken to prevent the protests from turning into riots that spiral out of the king's control.

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