Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"This ushers in the beginning of the end of absolute monarchy"

"... “I think this ushers in the beginning of the end of absolute monarchy, not the monarchy,” says Labib Kamhawi,  61, a former political science professor at Jordan University who is now a spokesman for an umbrella group of opposition parties and movements. (Kamhawi is facing sedition charges from the nervous regime for, as he puts it, “saying what I am saying to you.”)Monarchies traditionally rely on a mystique that blends bloodlines with patriotism, and throughout history the wisest royals have been those who managed to remain above the fray of day to day politics. The latest riots, which started over a hike in fuel prices, show that the 50-year-old Abdullah is finding that game increasingly hard to play.
One buffer after another between Abdullah and popular anger has fallen away: He has named four prime ministers in the last year alone. His powerful intelligence chiefs have toppled repeatedly since he succeeded to the throne in 1999, as he first relied on them for his survival, then fired them and threw them in prison. 

After Rania’s lavish celebrity-studded birthday party in 2010, attacks on her status and her motives grew more pointed, with a group of former generals publishing a letter that denounced her influential role in the monarchy. Allegations of corruption against her brother, always denied and never proved, grew so intense that he eventually moved out of the country....
In one of those twists that is typical of the Middle East and common in Jordan’s history, the fact that a horrendous civil war is going on next door in Syria may actually work to Abdullah’s benefit in the short term.....  suggesting that fact may have led the king to believe he has more room to maneuver politically and economically.
But the fates of other leaders who thought they were indispensable to Washington provide several cautionary examples, among them the fallen dictators of Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt."

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