Democracy in Amman

This is a brief blog post on the recent protests and political changes that took place here in Amman. Amman, and Jordan as a whole, is struggling economically right now – although the city remains vibrant. One of the economic issues is how to create jobs for the increasing number of college graduates. Other economic issues include the price of daily living expenses, which have been skyrocketing in the past few years. One of the things Americans, in my opinion, don’t take enough time to think deeply about is how our own actions as a country affect others, and not just immediately, but also for years to come. For example, under Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, every Jordanian received free gas from Iraq. This was Iraq’s way of assisting its neighbor and maintaining solidarity, especially as a way of thanking Jordan for all the work it does for Palestinians. Anyways, after the American war in Iraq Jordanians obviously stopped getting free gas and the economy has suffered in many ways since then. Recently the IMF offered some loans to Jordan and Jordan instituted a new income tax law. The new law set off a wave of protests in Amman. The protests were a remarkable thing to see. At one point, the soldiers present at the protests literally found the leader of the protest and they talked about how tired they were. The protestors, in an act of solidarity with their compatriots in the military, agreed to “take a break” and everyone sat down on the ground. Then the soldiers sat down on the ground and everyone took a break. After a while, everyone got back up, protestors kept protesting and the soldiers stood guard. The King ultimately fired the prime minister and hired a new one and formed a new government and they repealed the income tax law. It is often said that democracy does not exist in the Middle East but this was democracy at work. As Americans, we should be very thankful to the Jordanians for all the work they do in this region – including resettling massive numbers of refugees.