Jordan’s Islamists Back Off the King
Abdullah II has a year to make reforms, they say
Of all the interviews I did last week on the events in Egypt, the interlocutor who scared me the most was Bruce Riedel, the former CIA hand and presidential adviser, and the thing he said that scared me the most had little to do with Egypt itself:
Jordan is absolutely vital to fighting terrorism. They have the best intelligence service in the Middle East … They sit on a vital piece of territory, and they face many of the same problems Tunisia and Egypt face, of a large youth bulge with high unemployment and underemployment, and without the oil money to buy off political enemies. … I think Jordan is something to keep a very close eye on here, because the stakes are very high for the United States and Israel. The Hashemite monarchy has been a very loyal and important friend for over half a century. And just as Israel-Egypt is an important peace treaty, Israel-Jordan is as well.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II had already dissolved his entire cabinet in response to unrest, and the active and prominent Islamist opposition seemed to be indicating that it was not satisfied with his new prime minister, either. The popular perception of his wife, Rania, as a glamorous jet-setter wasn’t really helping matters, either.
However, news comes today that the Hashemite monarch has bought himself at least some time: The kingdom’s Muslim Brotherhood, which refused to join the new government, nonetheless pledged to give it and the new prime minister, an ex-general, up to a year to enact reforms, including a new election law. No doubt Israeli officials are breathing a not-insignificant sigh of relief at the news that they have one fewer crisis to worry about—for now.