Jordan Bolstered by Egyptian, Syrian Chaos

At the beginning of the year the political future of Jordan seemed very fragile, but recent events have served to strengthen the regime’s position since the beginning of the Arab Awakening.

jordan-refguees

Aerial View of the Za’atri Refugee Camp

The overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi – the first democratically elected Egyptian President – has dampened the appeal of political change.

Meanwhile, the ongoing conflict in Syria – which shows no sign of abating – has led to an influx of refugees that has drastically changed Jordan’s demographics. These events may have led some citizens to feel that potential change could only be for the worse, and have also served to overshadow the economic and political problems that Jordan is facing.

Every day the news covers the ongoing violence in Egypt between the security forces and protesters affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. This may frighten citizens thinking about supporting the opposition by causing them to worry about similar violence taking place in Jordan.

The ongoing presence of Syrian refugees has produced a strain on Jordan’s financial resources which were already under stress prior to the conflict. This is not the first influx of refugees that Jordan has faced: it absorbed refugees fleeing Palestine after the 1948 War and Iraqis fleeing in the wake of the US invasion. However, the influx of refugees combined with the present regional circumstances has strained Jordan’s infrastructure and economy.

This has overshadowed the political debate about the reform process, and placed issues such as electoral reform and even the relative lack of resources and employment on the back burner for the time being.

King Abdullah pledged in 1999 when he assumed the throne that the democratization process would move forward, but the pace of reform has caused many to become frustrated. However, now their frustrations are overshadowed by the events taking place very nearby in the region. Events in Egypt could even harm Jordan more directly if it causes added disruptions in its gas supplies, which have already been disrupted several times.

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The combination of these events has ensured stability for the regime for the near future. The present course of events in neighboring countries will continue to have a strong impact on the political and economic situation in Jordan for the foreseeable future.

Dana Barakat is an Arab-American freelance writer based in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Follow her on Twitter @DanaHBarakat.

Thomas Sullivan is publications coordinator at Tadween Publishing, a subsidiary of Arab Studies Institute. His most recent publications include Unofficial Israeli Actors and the Failure of Post-Oslo Final Status Negotiations. Follow him on Twitter @tomwsullivan.