Jordan's King Walks a Fine Line Between Domestic and International Demands

Dec 5, 2018 | 11:00 GMT

Jordan's King Abdullah II attends the opening of the country's parliament in 2016 in Amman, Jordan. As the economy founders, Jordan is facing the increasing influence of various protesters.

Jordan's King Abdullah II attends the opening of the country's parliament in 2016 in Amman, Jordan.

(JORDAN PIX/ Getty Images)


  • Jordan's economic and nationalist protest movements are both gaining strength, demanding changes to Amman's policies that will create potential clashes with the country's international donors.
  • Jordan's key contributors — including the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — will want the kingdom to pursue policies that are unpopular with its citizens.
  • The divide between international and domestic desires could create a crisis for Jordan's monarchy if the country's sponsors attempt to push Amman too far.

A rising tide of protests in Jordan is gaining power over the policy in Amman. Jordan's social contract, long held together by the monarchy's mystique and personality as well as dollops of foreign aid, faces a new problem. While nationalists on one side are demanding the king adopt policies against the interests of his key donors, economically aggrieved protesters are undercutting the structural reforms the kingdom needs to sustain itself. King Abdullah II cannot please everyone, and cracks are beginning to appear in the social contract. Those cracks must be filled, and either anti-government forces, extremists or the international community will step in to fill it. As the cracks widen, the behavior of Jordan's key donors -- The United States, Europe and the Arab Gulf states -- will determine the monarchy's stability. Yet the demands of these foreign powers have the potential to clash with Jordan's growing protest movements and cause...

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