[When people rise, and believe that the State offers no relief or solution, they turn away from elections, reject the credibility and false promises of the political system, and consider what it will take to take matters into their own hands. It happens all over the world. — Frontlines ed.]
[Recently received: “Below is a statement issued by Arab writers and intellectuals protesting having Israel as the guest of honor at the Guadalajara International Book Fair – Mexico, which opened on Saturday November 30……The main signatories are: Idriss Allouch (Poet) from Morocco, Abdul-Razzaq Bukubba (Novelist and Storywriter) from Algeria, Naela al-Wardi (Plastic Artist and Translator) from Tunisia, Najwan Darwish (Poet) and Rasha Hilweh (Writer) from Palestine, Mohammad Dibo (Poet) from Syria, Samah Idriss (Writer and Publisher) from Lebanon, and Jamal Naji (Novelist), Ilias Farkouh (Novelist), Fakhri Saleh (Literary Critic), Ghazi al-Theibeh (Poet), Basma al-Nsour (Storywriter), Mahmoud al-Rimawi (Storywriter and Novelist), and Hisham Bustani (Storywriter) from Jordan.” — Frontlines ed.]
19 February, 2013
[Palestinians throw stones towards Israeli troops during clashes that broke out after a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron to show solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails February 18, 2013. (Reuters / Ammar Awad)]
Thousands demonstrated in Palestine’s two largest cities in support of hunger strikers in Israeli jails. Protesters called on the EU to take action to demand better treatment of the weakening prisoners and back their release.
More than 1,000 people rioted in the West Bank’s two largest cities on Monday to collectively demonstrate their support for the four long-term hunger strikers imprisoned in Israel’s jails. Public anger has heightened over the uncertainty of the prisoners’ fates, and people took to the streets to both show their support and demand that the international community step in.
The protests flared in both Nablus in the north and Hebron in the south, prompting clashes with the army. Over 1,000 people gathered in Nablus, with a further 1,500 demonstrating in central Hebron. Palestinian youths also blocked the entrance to the UN offices in Ramallah, 10km north of Jerusalem. However, Palestinian police prevented them from entering the building, according to AFP correspondents. Continue reading
[If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Jordan – a failed uprising and a re-emerging regime
“Up to now, the regime has been successful in absorbing the movement and fragmenting it”
by Hisham Bustani, Your Middle East, January 8, 2013
There is no doubt that the November 2012 events in Jordan dubbed Habbet Tishreen by many activists in recollection of its 1989 counterpart, the April Uprising, or Habbet Neesan, are unprecedented. Although both were triggered by an increase in the prices of oil derivatives, the 2012 version seems to have been much more radicalized in its approach to the ruling regime, especially the Hashemite monarchs/family and the king himself.
Before 2012, it was the virtue of the ultra-brave to publicly criticize the king and the royal family: they usually spoke with evident hints and innuendo, but without going the full route to directly uttering the name of the king. Criticizing the king and the royal family was simply not tolerated under Jordanian law, and it is still punishable by one to three years in prison. The law incriminating this sort of criticism has perhaps the world’s most absurd name for any legislation: literally, the ‘Law on elongating one’s tongue about the monarch’!
I was not one of the brave ones, but while others directed their criticism to ‘the government’, I have always referred to “the political authority” in my articles, making a point that governments do not rule in Jordan, they are mere executives, and the decision-making lies somewhere else, in spaces on a higher level: The Royal Court and the General Intelligence Agency (Mukhabarat).
Thu Nov 15, 2012
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Reuters
AMMAN, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Rioting in Jordan after the government raised fuel prices left one protester dead, the first fatality of violence sweeping impoverished towns in the kingdom, and Islamists called for more protests on Friday.
Hundreds took to the streets this week after the government decided to raise gasoline, cooking gas and heating fuel prices. They blocked roads, set government buildings alight and trashed shops in the towns of Maan, Tafila, Salt and Karak.
The protester was killed and scores were injured during an attack on a police station overnight in Jordan’s second-largest city of Irbid, witnesses said. Police said they used tear gas to disperse masked youths who attacked government property.
Some protesters torched part of Irbid’s municipal headquarters later on Thursday to vent their anger at officials who said the dead young man had been armed, the witnesses said.
“The country has risen up from north to south and this state of popular tension is unprecedented,” said Murad Adailah, a senior member of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Front called for more protests after Friday prayers in the centre of the capital Amman and in mosques across the country. Continue reading
Part Two, titled “Arab Uprisings: Progress, But Not Yet a Revolution”, was posted at https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/arab-uprisings-progress-but-not-yet-a-revolution/
By: Hisham Bustani
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Since the Arab uprisings were not class-based, have no philosophical backbone, and lack a leading revolutionary party to drive the movement towards defined socio-economic and political change, the ground was set for the rise of institutionalized currents that already had a substantial presence, chiefly the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist factions.
Historically, political Islam served as a close ally to Arab despotic regimes, especially in the 1950s and 1960s when it was used as a tool to confront the expansion of nationalist and leftist currents. In Jordan, for example, the Islamists were allowed to stay legally active during the period of martial law (1957-1989) while all other parties were banned. They were permitted to establish institutions, associations, banks, hospitals, schools, universities, and a huge network of social support organizations, in addition to their leading of Friday prayers and their activities in key government institutions like the Ministry of Education. The Salafi movement was completely nurtured and backed by the US and its subservient ally Saudi Arabia during the Cold War. It was used primarily in Afghanistan against the Soviets and later spread throughout the world.
It was only when Islamist groups grew too strong for government manipulation and became a possible threat that the regimes unsuccessfully tried to move against them. It was too late. The Islamists had already opened channels with the US administration, and began to present themselves as a possible, more efficient and more popular replacement for the Arab regimes.
By: Hisham Bustani, writing in al Akhbar English
Thursday, April 19, 2012
After one year of the Arab uprisings that initially exploded in Tunisia and swept like wildfire throughout the Arab world, it became very clear that the spark, which has resulted in the removal of three oppressors so far, was spontaneous. That does not mean that the explosion had no preludes. On the contrary, the people were squeezed with each passing day, but those uprisings clearly showed that even in the absence of an organized catalyzing formation (revolutionary party, revolutionary class), an explosion takes place when a certain threshold is reached, a critical mass.
Uprisings in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet-bloc states came about through the work of organized opposition groups and parties (like Solidarity in Poland), and by decades of calm covert undermining, infiltration, and propaganda undertaken by the West. By contrast, the Arab uprising was not led by an organized opposition. Instead, it came as a surprise to the imperialist circles that historically backed their client oppressor regimes.
The Failure of the Post-Colonial Arab “State”
Following the British-French-Italian colonialism of the Arab region, the Europeans left behind an area that they deliberately divided into “states”. These were designed so as to leave no possibility for their becoming truly independent and sovereign. They also left a watchdog and an easy solution to assuage their anti-Semitic-burdened consciousness: “Israel,” a colonial-settler state that would maintain the imperialist design in the wake of the physical withdrawal of its patrons.
The post-colonial states were subordinate by design, by their innate nature of being divided and incomplete, and by the ruling class that followed colonialism. Continue reading
[As this article points out, “The… treaty which (Jordan and Israel) concluded in 1994 commits Jordan to prevent using its territory to stage activity against Israeli targets.” — Frontlines ed.]
May 14, 2011
Amman – Jordanian security authorities on Saturday turned back buses carrying scores of activists hoping to get to the Israel-controlled border with the West Bank to mark the 63th anniversary of the founding of Israel, or Nakba (catastrophe), as the Palestinians call it.
Protestors attempting to reach Gaza from Egypt were similarly stopped in Sinai by Egyptian police Saturday.
The group, calling itself the ‘May 15 Youth’, was intercepted by police about five kilometres from the King Hussein crossing point on River Jordan, where activists had planned to spend the night. Continue reading
Jordan’s New Opposition and the Traps of Identity and Ambiguity
by Hisham Bustani, Jadaliyya
Apr 20 2011
Protesters took the streets of Amman, Jordan, on Friday, calling for governmental and constitutional reforms.There are two major tribulations in Jordan from which all other issues stem.
The first is the autocratic authority that dominates the role of all “state institutions” (i.e., the Cabinet, the Parliament, and the Judiciary). This autocratic domination is legally sanctioned by the Jordanian constitution:
· Article 26 states that “The Executive Power shall be vested in the King, who shall exercise his powers through his Ministers.”
· Article 35 states that “The King appoints the Prime Minister and may dismiss him or accept his resignation. He appoints the Ministers; he also dismisses them or accepts their resignation, upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister.”
· Article 34 states that “(i) The King issues orders for the holding of elections to the Chamber of Deputies in accordance with the provisions of the law; (ii) The King convenes the National Assembly, inaugurates, adjourns, and prorogues it in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution; (iii) The King may dissolve the Chamber of Deputies; (iv) The King may dissolve the Senate or relieve any Senator of his membership.” Continue reading
By Catrina Stewart
In a sign of further shockwaves reverberating across the Arab world, King Abdullah II of Jordan sacked his government in a surprise move after three weeks of street protests calling for economic and political reform.
The king dismissed Samir Rifai, the unpopular prime minister, after just over a year in the post, appointing the ex-premier and former army general Marouf Bakhit, whom many Jordanians see as a conservative hardliner with little appetite for reform.
The move was unexpected, not least because street protests in Jordan have remained manageable and largely peaceful, with protesters refraining from openly challenging the king. But Arab leaders have been badly rattled by the mass protests in the region.
The move is being seen as an attempt to head off further trouble from angry Jordanians, in the wake of the more violent unrest in Tunisia and Egypt.
King Abdullah’s decision to dissolve the government goes part of the way to meeting political demands of the opposition, which had called for the resignation of the cabinet, the right to elect the prime minister and an end to political appointments by the king. But it is unclear if it will be enough. Continue reading
By Suleiman al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) – Several thousand Jordanians protested on Friday over soaring food prices and the erosion of living conditions, blaming corruption spawned by free-market reforms for the plight of the country’s poor.
Islamists, left wing and trade unions activists marched through the old downtown of the city chanting “The government is eating our flesh … O Samir (Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai), you have slaughtered us with high prices. You have left us broke.”
The 5,000-strong march was largest so far after several smaller protests last week, inspired by Tunisia, to try to force authorities to roll back austerity steps such as higher taxes imposed to repair public finances that have been severely strained by the global financial crisis.
Hundreds of members of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group, chanted: “O people of Jordan revolt against poverty and hunger,” “The government must leave” and “No to theft of the country.”
Many Jordanians hold successive governments responsible for a prolonged recession and rising public debt that hit a record $15 billion (9 billion pounds) this year in one of the Arab world’s smaller economies that is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Continue reading