Monday, January 21, 2013

Discontent in Ma'an

Today in southern Jordan there is discontent and talk of protests:
A growing number of unemployed inhabitants of this impoverished city in southern Jordan (Ma'an) are getting weary, not from hours spent looking for work, but from what they say is the government's refusal to hear their pleas.
Now, they say they are prepared to graduate from street protests to blocking the city's main roads to get the government's attention...
In recent months, the rumbling of discontent from Jordan's south has grown louder as poverty has deepened. As Jordanians prepare to vote for a new, 150-seat assembly on Wednesday, more residents here believe that they are no longer served by the ballots they have traditionally cast for tribal candidates...
"Our main problem lies with the political system, the king, the royal court and the Mukhabarat. In the past two years we have been asking for reforms, but the regime has fallen behind in its promises," he said.
Last month, about 200 unemployed men in Ma'an marched to one of the city's main intersections chanting "Martyrdom is better than a bitter living". They wrapped themselves in burial shrouds and prevented company trucks loaded with phosphate from reaching the port of Aqaba. Police dispersed them with tear gas.
Discontent in that area is not new.  What could be new this time is the "Arab Spring" political climate in the region and the intersection of the complaints with the political grievances of northerners that may culminate in Wednesday's parliamentary elections.  I'm not going to predict anything will actually happen, the but the situation in Jordan is highly delicate, to say the least, and too strong a crackdown on expressed grievances in the wake of a flawed election could spur a larger uprising.



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