U.S. Military Deploys Task Force to Jordan
The New York Times, citing unnamed American officials, reported the U.S. military secretly dispatched a task force of more than 150 “planners and other specialists” to a Jordanian military training center near Amman. The task force will help the Jordanian military “handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict.” The news came on the heels of Sen. Bob Corker‘s (R-TN) visit to Jordan, where he met with ministers, businessmen and senators, and “hailed steps taken by the Kingdom to achieve reforms that fulfill aspirations of the Jordanian people.” Corker also traveled to the Syrian border to evaluate the situation there and expressed concerns that al-Qaeda remains a “serious threat” to the United States.
King Abdullah II established a constitutional court by royal decree on October 7, which will be the only court authorized to verify that laws comply with the constitution. The committee is comprised of nine members sworn in before the King and chaired by Taher Hekmat, a legal expert and head of the board of directors of the National Center for Human Rights. In a letter to members of the court, Abdullah stressed the institution “offers an important guarantee of the separation of powers and respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens.”
Over the weekend, protesters gathered in downtown Amman in the largest demonstration since the Jordanian Arab Spring began. The government dissolved the parliament on Thursday and promised more political reform in response to the protests, a common tactic that has led to 11 prime ministers since 1999. ”It is now clear that the King is in no mood for compromise,” wrote Osama Al Sharif in Gulf News. “The Islamists and their allies have shown that they too are determined to challenge the regime.” However, “Jordan deserves some credit,” said an op-ed in ammonnews.net. “Unlike in some Arab states, protests have been met with a peaceful response. It is now crucial that the government gets ahead of events and own the process.”