King Abdullah II dismissed his entire cabinet after recent protests in Tunisia and Egypt made him more than a little nervous about what locals say is widespread corruption. And this past weekend, over 30 tribal leaders issued a joint statement warning of a popular uprising due to "suppression of freedoms and looting of public funds" . Among their charges are that Queen Rania is engaging in political power broking and that Jordan is fast becoming a kleptocracy.
Included demands are for fair parliamentary elections and expanded freedoms. And like their Egyptian brethren, Jordanians have also suffered years of high commodity prices and a widening gap between the rich and the poor. And despite royal claims to the contrary, Jordanians still fear speaking their mind for fear of arrest under numerous clauses that make it a crime to criticize the government. What's more, average Jordanians are becoming resentful of their cosmopolitan monarchy parading about in fashions worth more than a year's wage while many go hungry.
The King ascended in 1999, promising progressive changes started by his late father would continue. However, he has maintained the status quo and when he has spoken, he hasn't really been taken seriously. This protest comes on the back of a Wikileaks cable that stated that the U.S. was becoming annoyed with Abdallah's inaction, so maybe these tribesmen are being opportunistic. Maybe they're misogynists and xenophobes who are looking for an excuse to hate on the Queen. Or maybe they're voicing the discontent of a nation that is being robbed blind by a caste of elites who call anyone who complains a terrorist. And maybe both cases are true.