Following successful campaigns in Egypt, Libya and other Middle East and North African nations, the Muslim Brotherhood now is trying to destabilize and possibly overthrow Jordan’s government, according to reports.
The Saudi-owned news channel Al-Arabiya, citing leaked files, reported the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies have sought to destabilize neighboring Jordan by manipulating peaceful demonstrations there and turning them into deadly violence.
The leaks came amid rising political tensions in Jordan. Mass demonstrations in the capital Amman were sparked by a decision by Jordan’s King Abdullah to dissolve the parliament ahead of Muslim Brotherhood protests planned for Friday. Abdullah is calling for early elections.
International Christian Concern’s Middle East analyst, Aidan Clay, says the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the biggest threats to Jordan’s stability.
He said the move to dissolve the parliament as a gesture of compromise was politically risky for the king. The Muslim Brotherhood did not accept the move, Clay noted, considering it to be half-hearted.
“Yet, the king is still a seasoned politician who may be able to offer concessions that the Muslim Brotherhood accepts,” he said.
“The problem is, of course, that once concessions are offered, the Muslim Brotherhood will likely be emboldened and demand even more,” Clay warned. “And, the king will not be able solve this dilemma by holding elections in accordance to country’s current law, which lacks a national consensus.”
Clay said elections “would only deepen the crisis.’
“Greater reforms will have to be made,” he said. “Additionally, the king must deal with government corruption immediately in order to calm the situation, or else protests will continue and gain momentum.”
Dutch human rights activist Martin Janssen reported from Jordan that the Muslim Brotherhood voiced suspicion about the move.
“As in other Arab countries, the Jordanian monarchy is causing dissatisfaction among the people. The Muslim Brotherhood is using that to stir up demonstrations against the government,” Janssen said.
Clay said most Jordanians support the king.
“However, it is also true that every Jordanian is fed up with the widespread corruption within the government,” Clay said. “Moreover, the economy is quickly declining, unemployment is rising, and there is a great rift between the rich and poor. The MB is highlighting these widespread concerns in their pursuit of ‘democratic reform’ which resonates with nearly all Jordanians – whether they are MB sympathizers or not.”
Clay said the cover for many of the “Arab Spring” movements was the call for democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood’s use of the “democracy” line, he said, could tip the balance in their favor.
“Of most concern is that the MB is among the primary groups calling for political reform. If that continues to be the case, then many Jordanians may decide to back the MB, whether or not they agree with the Muslim Brotherhood’s religious ideology,” Clay said.
“Free elections, ending corruption, higher wages, and other claims all sound great, no matter who’s leading the campaign – whether it’s the MB or liberals,” Clay said.
“Many Jordanians just want change and some are willing to join whatever movement promises political reform,” Clay said.
However, there is a gap in the people’s understanding when it comes to the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood. He says the people also aren’t aware of the severity of Jordan’s economic climate.
“What many people here fail to understand, I think, is that Jordan is reliant on international aid. Without it, their economy would collapse, especially with the recent influx of Syrian refugees that the kingdom must now provide for,” Clay said.
“King Abdullah II has a strong alliance with Western nations which has brought stability to Jordan. If the Muslim Brotherhood gains significant political influence, that alliance will no doubt be jeopardized, as is now the case in Egypt,” Clay said.
“It’s a bit early to tell what will happen in Jordan. While the MB’s demonstration last Friday was the largest protest in Jordan in the past 22 months, the turnout was much lower than the 50,000 that the MB predicted. There were actually between 7,000 to 15,000 protesters,” Clay said.
“Moreover, King Abdullah still holds a lot of respect in the country – though calling for reform, most of the opposition is not advocating for the removal of the monarchy,” Clay said.
“One thing is certain – Jordanians, both the Muslim Brotherhood and any moderates, are getting bolder, openly accusing the government of corruption and repression of free speech, calling for a limitation of the monarchy’s powers, and at time, albeit rarely, outright criticizing the king,” Clay said.
“Such public accusations were not seen much in Jordan several years ago and goes to show that whether or not Jordanians agree with the Brotherhood’s wider agenda, they do resonate with, and many are following, the MB’s lead in calling for significant political reforms,” Clay said.