State Dept. Addresses Ongoing Jordan Unrest
The U.S. Department of State responded to anti-government protests in Jordan by stating that they respect the right to protest, so long as it is done peacefully. The spokesperson, Mark Toner, expressed support for King Abduallah II’s “roadmap for reform” while also supporting “the aspirations of the Jordanian people to foster a more inclusive political process.” Toner however, refused to comment on whether or not the International Monetary Fund should reduce pressure on Jordan to quell the unrest. When asked if he would like to see Jordan become a constitutional monarchy, Toner simply stated that it was a “[question] for the Jordanian people to decide.”
Since protests began 17 civilians and 58 policemen have been injured, one killed, and 158 protesters have been arrested. According to General Hussein Majali, director of the Public Security Department, “freedom of expression is guaranteed [but] should be peaceful.” He lamented that the state would not allow “harm [to] public or private facilities or citizens” and that security would “strike with an iron fist,” at anyone using illegal means to express their anger.
The IMF’s bi-annual outlook for the Middle East and North Africa asserted that economic growth in Jordan is dependent on “a partial return to political stability” in 2013. According to the report “growth is expected to remain below long-term trends, and unemployment is expected to increase owing to continued anemic external demand, high food and fuel commodity prices, regional tensions and policy uncertainty.” Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, admitted that the organization had underestimated economic challenges in the region. An article published by Reuters noted that while Saudi Arabia bailed Jordan out of a similar situation in 2011 with a $1.4 billion dollar loan, this time they have not.