Shadi Alnsoor/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images A Syrian refugee looking out of his makeshift tent dwelling in Amman, Jordan, December 12, 2013

The Haddad family have moved since I first visited them in Jordan last year in 2018: they’re still living in the same building in East Amman, but this time ten-year-old Saber led me past the door of the apartment I knew and up to the next floor. It was cosier, because it was smaller, and therefore cheaper—150 Jordanian dinars a month (about $210) rather than 250 dinars ($350) for the more spacious floor below. Spacious, yes, but the old one felt more desolate as a result. The furniture seemed sparse, if, on occasion, innovative. The baby’s cradle was a plastic vegetable crate, lined with blankets, hung from a water pipe in the ceiling, free to swing.…  Seguir leyendo »

At a protest against the United States’ Middle East peace plan on May 28, 2019, near the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, a placard reads in Arabic, “Kushner, Jordan is neither to buy nor to sell.” (Andre Pain/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK)

The recent visit of Jared Kushner to Amman left many Jordanians worried that the Kushner plan, or President Trump’s alleged “deal of the century,” will try to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at Jordan’s expense.

Less than a year ago, Jordanians were on edge over rumors regarding a Trump administration peace plan, including a potential confederation between Jordan and Palestinian territories — a proposal that was floated as new but was in fact quite old and a nonstarter for Jordan. Even as a political crisis in Israel could jeopardize the plan, regional meetings and summits on the horizon have Jordanians concerned about what the Trump administration has in store.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters demonstrate outside the Prime Minister’s office in Amman on June 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Raad al-Adayleh)

Jordan is experiencing a new cycle of anti-government protests driven by youth activists, with last week’s demonstrations ending in violence. Another round is happening Thursday night despite harsh weather. The unrest echoes the summer’s anti-austerity revolts that toppled the previous government; the underlying discontent still simmers.

Jordanians chafe under nearly 19 percent unemployment, a new International Monetary Fund-backed tax law, and corruption scandals (the latest a massive fake cigarette scheme). The new government of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz has lost public confidence, not least because of controversial measures like a proposed law regulating social media. All this is destabilizing a vital U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Syrian refugee children stand in front of their home at Al Zaatari refugee camp, in the Jordanian city of Mafraq near the border with Syria, in February. (Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

Over the past month, fighting in southern Syria has displaced more than 300,000 people — the most at any one time in Syria’s nearly seven-year civil war. More than 60,000 of these Syrians fled south, hoping to find safety in Jordan. But Jordan’s government closed the border and refused to let them in, claiming the country has already done enough to help Syrian refugees.

Many Jordanians reacted angrily to the government’s position — #OpenTheBorders became a top trending Twitter hashtag in the country as people called the decision shameful and vowed to share their bread with the refugees. Some Jordanians matched words with actions, organizing private relief efforts to help those trapped on the border.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah II appointed former education minister Omar Razzaz as the new prime minister after protests rocked the country. And Razzaz has already made several concessions to the protesters over taxes. But more interesting is that Razzaz said a “new social contract” will be a top item on his government’s agenda. What does a new social contract mean in the Jordanian context, and how would this help Jordan to overcome its persistent political and economic problems?

A history of short-lived governments

Dissolving the Cabinet and appointing a new prime minister is a traditional Jordanian response to popular dissent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jordanian protesters shout slogans and raise a national flag during a demonstration outside the prime minister’s office in the capital, Amman, on June 4. (Raad Adayleh/AP)

Ramadan is the month of fasting and reflection in the Arab world. For many, it is also a month to reach out to others, to make things right. But this Ramadan is like no other in Jordanian history. This Ramadan has been marked by fasting and some of the most massive protests in Jordanian history.

A single-day strike about taxes quickly morphed into days of protests and demonstrations, not just in the capital, Amman, but all over the country. The protests brought down a prime minister and his government, and led to at least the temporary suspension of controversial state policies.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Amman in 2013. (Muhammad Hammad/Reuters)

Democratic Party losses in traditional strongholds are stunning, often exposing deep frustration between party and base. Similarly, Republican losses in deep-red districts raise many questions.

In the Middle East, rare Islamist losses in their own strongholds show the failure of Islamist appeals to keep previously reliable supporters. This just happened in Jordan.

During the past two months, Muslim Brotherhood-supported groups got trounced during elections at Jordan University, the flagship university whose student union elections relegated Islamists behind the new Nashama (Gallantry) movement, and the Jordan Engineers Association, the kingdom’s largest professional union whose 150,000 members are now led by the independent Numuw (Growth) bloc.…  Seguir leyendo »

In a recent interview, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made headlines with a striking claim that he will try to return his country to “moderate Islam” as part of his broader reform efforts. Though it is unclear what, if any, tangible changes this will produce, his remarks are part of a growing trend among leaders in the Arab world to use elements of the state-sponsored religious establishment, or “official Islam,” to counter extremist ideologies.

Some countries have been far more successful than others at harnessing the power of official Islam to challenge popular Islamist movements and limit radical ideologies. In a new article, we examine how regimes have used official religious institutions in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia after the 2011 uprisings shook the region.…  Seguir leyendo »

Since 2011, the civil war in Syria has killed more than 470,000 people, mostly civilians. Millions of people have been displaced, and nearly five million Syrians have fled, creating the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. By far the greatest burden of receiving Syria’s refugees has fallen not on the United States or on Europe, but on Syria’s neighbors: Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Together, these countries are hosting most of the five million Syrians.

Each is coping with huge challenges, with different degrees of success. In my visits to those three countries, I‘ve been struck by how much more dignity has been accorded to Syrian refugees in Turkey than in Jordan, and especially in Lebanon.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Jordanie dans le camp de réfugiés de Jerash qui abrite près de 30’000 palestiniens, des artistes rémunérées produisent de très beaux châles, coussins, nappes, vestes, sac à main, serviettes de bains, tous brodés avec soin et précaution. Ces objets raffinés, dont Vogue et plusieurs autres magazines ont parlé cet été, sont maintenant vendus à Genève, Paris, Londres, Beyrouth, Abu Dhabi et Amman. C’est le résultat du travail génial de Roberta Ventura, CEO de l’entreprise sociale privée SEP Jordan lancée en 2013.

Le lancement de ce projet inédit est l’aboutissement d’une longue réflexion qui a débouché sur une conviction: l’assistance humanitaire, indispensable dans des situations d’urgence est inadéquate à long-terme car elle instaure une situation malsaine de dépendance économique des populations réfugiées de longue durée.…  Seguir leyendo »

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, right, and his brother Prince Moulay Rachid in 2015. (Abdeljalil Bounhar/AP)

Of the Middle East’s eight ruling monarchies, Morocco and Jordan are peculiar. Lacking the hydrocarbon wealth of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, they carry the reputation instead as moderate kingdoms being guided toward democracy by reform-minded, Western-oriented kings.

For decades they have allowed elected parliaments, legal opposition and vibrant civil societies. During the Arab Spring, they responded to popular protests with reforms rather than repression. For some observers, then, these are oases of stability and enlightenment whose politics mirror Europe’s historical journey toward  constitutional monarchy.

In truth, Morocco and Jordan look good only because the rest of the Middle East looks so bad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vista aérea de Zaatari, campo de refugiados en el norte de Jordania, en 2012. Foto: United Nations Photo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Jordania y Líbano acogen al menos a 1.700.000 refugiados sirios en condiciones difíciles, lo que está causando tensiones en ambos países.


Los sirios que huyen de la guerra y buscan refugio en Jordania y Líbano tienen que hacer frente a numerosas dificultades provocadas, fundamentalmente, por el desafío que la afluencia masiva de refugiados supone para dos países de recursos limitados, y que no han recibido la totalidad de las ayudas internacionales acordadas. Según se prolonga el conflicto sirio, se hace cada vez más patente que sin un mayor compromiso en el cumplimento de los acuerdos alcanzados en cumbres y encuentros globales, tanto Líbano como Jordania se enfrentan a una mayor inestabilidad interna, que repercute en su capacidad de atender correctamente a la población refugiada.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week’s stabbing attack at the Lion’s Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, in which two Israeli border police officers were injured and their assailant was killed, is an ominous signal of growing strains around the city’s Holy Esplanade (Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif). Tensions and clashes in and around the Esplanade are common during Muslim and Jewish holidays, at times leading to violence far from the site itself. It is worrying that two months before Passover and the holy month of Ramadan, there are already signs of escalation at the site, after a considerable period of relative calm.

The weeklong Jewish Passover holiday, during which many Temple activists will seek to enter the Esplanade, begins on 10 April; Ramadan commences slightly more than a month afterward, on 26 May.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of the Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar protesting his death in Amman, Jordan, this month. Credit Raad Adayleh/Associated Press

In January 2015, King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan marched in Paris with other world leaders to pay tribute to the murdered cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo and to stand up for freedom of expression. Less than two years later, when Nahed Hattar, a 56-year-old Jordanian writer from a Christian family, shared a cartoon on his Facebook page that some perceived to be mocking God, the Jordanian government swiftly ordered his arrest and charged him with “insulting religious belief and sentiment.”

Mr. Hattar deleted the cartoon and clarified that he meant to mock only how the Islamic State’s followers viewed God.…  Seguir leyendo »

Save the Refugees on the Berm

For millions of Syrian civilians trapped for five years by a relentless war, mere lifesaving aid, let alone refuge, is out of reach. But for the 75,000 displaced people caught on Jordan’s desert frontier with Syria, salvation is only yards away. Unlike many of their fellow citizens, they can be saved. So why have they been effectively abandoned?

They are assembled in a kind of buffer zone on an inhospitable strip of land, much of it within Jordanian territory, just north of the official Jordanian border. But that border is closed, which prevents aid from reaching these desperate refugees and at the same time prevents them from seeking safety.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s been a long, painful year for Syria’s 6 million refugees, as well as for Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, which are buckling under the pressure of hosting three quarters of them. But June 21, the longest day of the year, turned out to be particularly drawn out for a group of refugees who have been stuck in the desert at the Jordanian border.

Early that morning, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) slammed a pickup truck packed with explosives into a Jordanian military base on the Syrian border, killing at least six members of the country’s security services. Within hours, the army declared the area a «closed military zone» in which «any vehicle and personnel … mov[ing] without prior coordination» would be «treated as enemy targets and … without leniency.»…  Seguir leyendo »

A Jordanian soldier carried a child newly arrived at the Rukban camp in September. Raad Adayleh/Associated Press

Today we traveled along the Syrian border to a security checkpoint with King Abdullah II and some of his military advisers. Jordan has many borders, all potentially porous: 365 kilometers (about 227 miles) facing Syria, 180 kilometers (about 110 miles) facing Iraq, and the rest facing Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Their vulnerabilities are clear and visible from the air. But the Jordanian military is vigilant, using very sophisticated surveillance equipment and poring over digital video feeds in real time to spot problems.

There are constantly, even now, people who make a break from Syria to the safety of Jordan only to find they are being shot at by their own troops.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jordanian soldiers at the funeral of Captain Rashed Zyoud, Zarqa, Jordan, March 2, 2016; Zyoud was killed during a raid by Jordanian security forces on an ISIS terror cell. Muhammad Hamed/Reuters.

Poor Jordan. A small, economically precarious country, it shares a two-hundred-mile border with Syria. Yet unlike Syria’s other neighbors, Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon, it rarely gets any attention in the international press. Indeed, while the world focuses on the European Union’s controversial deal with Turkey—in which Ankara has agreed to limit the number of asylum-seekers hoping to reach Greece’s shores in exchange for a lavish foreign aid package from Europe—hardly anything has been said about this crucial American ally on Syria’s southern border. But as I observed on a recent visit, Jordan is struggling to cope with vast numbers of refugees and an alarming rise in extremism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le Chypriote Chrístos Stylianídis, commissaire européen en charge de l’Aide humanitaire, dans un camp de réfugiés syriens dans le nord de la Jordanie, le 1er novembre. Photo Khalil Mazraawi. AFP

La Syrie, en proie à un conflit d’une violence et d’une intensité exceptionnelle, a donné naissance à l’un des mouvements de réfugiés les plus massifs au Moyen-Orient depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Le Haut Commissariat des Nations unies aux réfugiés (HCR) estime que plus de 4 millions de Syriens ont quitté leur pays depuis le début de la crise. Ironie de l’histoire, la Syrie avait été le principal pays d’accueil pour plusieurs centaines de milliers de réfugiés irakiens fuyant le chaos et la violence après la chute du régime de Saddam Hussein en 2003, sans compter la présence sur son sol de près de 500 000 réfugiés palestiniens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace unos días tuve la oportunidad de visitar Zaatari, un campo de refugiados levantado a 90 kilómetros de Amán en el que viven 79.000 personas procedentes de Siria. Jordania ha sido generosa con aquellas personas y familias que han alcanzado el país tras huir de la guerra. La mayoría de los países de la UE también están dando muestras de generosidad, entre ellos España. Pero la generosidad no basta. La imprescindible acogida de quienes huyen no puede ser solución para los millones de personas desplazadas. La raíz del problema está allí, en Siria, y no queda más remedio que influir y presionar para alcanzar unos acuerdos mínimos con el país origen de esta crisis migratoria.…  Seguir leyendo »