Jordan moves to ban MB party

A pretty daring, and probably ill-advised, move that sends back Jordanian politics about two decades:

Jordan's parliament took legal measures on Monday to disqualify the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the country's largest opposition movement.In a Lower House session, 46 out of 83 Jordanian lawmakers voted to add an item in the country's draft political parties law forbidding the establishment of any political party on a "religious basis."

The measure would disqualify the Islamic Action Front - the political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the country's largest political party - from taking part in upcoming parliamentary elections.

Islamists contend the amendment comes as "retaliation" for the Muslim Brotherhood's opposition to a proposed elections law observers say ensures the continued dominance of tribal regime loyalists over the legislative chamber.

Quite aside domestic politics, this echoes the very anti-MB moves by Gulf countries (especially the UAE) in recent months. The monarchist counter-revolutionary bloc is also increasingly becoming a counter-MB one.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Pelham on Jordan

Jordan Starts to Shake by Nicolas Pelham | The New York Review of Books:

To measure the sturdiness of King Abdullah of Jordan against the tide of upheaval sweeping the Arab world, go to Tafila, an impoverished town tucked into a sandy bowl encircled by the Moabite Mountains 110 miles south of the royal seat of Amman. Outside the courthouse where four youths recently awaited trial on charges of cursing the king, a crime punishable in this hitherto deferential kingdom by up to three years in jail, one hundred protesters continue cussing the king, until the order comes from on high to let the four go.

Such protests are growing in intensity and geographic reach, degrading the royal stature with every chant. Last season’s innuendo against his courtiers and queen has become this season’s naked repudiation of the King. In September, demonstrators chanted S-S-S, a deliberately ambiguous call for both the regime’sislah, Arabic for reform, and isqat, overthrow. The protesters outside Tafila’s courthouse dispense with such niceties, spicing the crude one-liners with which Egypt’s revolutionaries toppled Hosni Mubarak with cheeky Bedouin rhyming couplets: “O Abdullah son of Hussein/Qadaffi’s a goner, whither your reign?”

I must admit I would get a particular pleasure to see the king of Jordan fall. It would also tremendously upset the Saudis and Israelis, so it must be good.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

A Star Trek theme park in Jordan

I'm a big fan of Star Trek, but the profitability of this seems dubious:

The Rubicon Group, Paramount Recreation and CBS will all collaborate on the $1billion project.

The Star Trek themed centre will 'deliver a variety of multi-sensory 23rd-century experiences, culminating with a state-of-the art space-flight adventure.'

The Red Sea Astrarium in Amman, Jordan will ‘prominently feature’ an attraction inspired by the 2009 reboot of Star Trek.

It may be no small coincidence that King Abdullah is a big Star Trek fan and even did a cameo in an episode of Star Trek Voyager in the 1990s.

 

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Some thoughts on GCC enlargement

There's been a lot of ink spilled — and some pretty funny jokes — about the surprise announcement that Jordan and Morocco might join the GCC. I'll let someone else provide the Gulf logic for this move (see below) and follow that with some links to pieces looking at things from various angles. But first I want to talk about this generally and then from the specifically Moroccan perspective.

The GCC announcement appears to me first and foremost an economic and political stabilization package for two countries that are traditional security subcontractors to the GCC states as well as frequent recipients of their largesse — and which have similar political systems but are much more fragile because they are not insulated by wads of oil money. The Iran aspect has been trumpeted, but Morocco and Jordan were already on that bandwagon anyway, so I think it's secondary.

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Jordan's parliamentary elections and the Islamist boycott

Arabist reader André Bank sent me the following analysis of Jordan's recent parliamentary elections and the decision of the Islamic Action Front (a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated party) to boycott. I reproduce here for the benefit of others. His views, of course, are his own — but they certainly have shed some light for me on a subject I don't know much about.

Jordan’s parliamentary elections and the Islamist boycott 

By André Bank

3 January 2011

André Bank is a research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies in Hamburg, Germany. His main areas of expertise are regional conflict, foreign and domestic politics in the Middle East, with a focus on Jordan, Syria and Palestine.

Introduction

On November 9, Jordan held its sixth parliamentary elections after the partial political opening of the authoritarian regime in 1989. In the recent elections, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Islamic Action Front (IAF) as its affiliated party successfully boycotted, leading to an elected Lower House without any parliamentarians from the traditionally largest and only really relevant political party in Jordan. The government’s maintenance of the highly controversial “one-man, one vote” electoral system of 1993, which despite some cosmetic changes in May 2010 still highly discriminates against urban areas and clearly favours the rural, tribally dominated parts of Jordan, has been the obvious reason behind the Islamists’ decision not to participate in this year’s “election game”, thereby pushing through the second electoral boycott since the first one in 1997.  

In order to adequately understand the Islamists’ current electoral boycott, I hold that we should look beyond the specifics and minimal changes of the maintained “sawt wahid” electoral law and locate the boycott in its wider political and also historical context. This bigger picture of the politics of Islamists and elections in Jordan, I would argue, can be adequately grasped along three axes – or analytical lenses: First, the relationship between the MB/IAF and the Hashemite government. Second, the connections between Islamist politics in Jordan and the wider Arab region and in particular the Palestinian arena. And thirdly, internal politics and the dynamics within the MB/IAF itself, which – again – are also in various ways interlinked with the other two dimensions. 

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Jordanian soldier shoots at crowd in Haiti


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Crowd-control Arab style. Via Angry Arab.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Links for Dec.21.09 to Dec.23.09

Middle East Online | The End of Brotherly Love? | Tarek Kahlaoui on the Egyptian MB. * The Israel Lobby and the Prospects for Middle East Peace « P U L S E | Lectures by Stephen Walt. * Israeli Organ Trafficking and Theft: From Moldova to Palestine | Investigation by Washigton Report. * Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent | World news | The Guardian | Unbelievable. * Israel gives response to Hamas prisoner swap offer | "Israel relayed its response to the proposed swap and handed over a list of Palestinians it wants exile." * Jimmy Carter to U.S. Jews: Forgive me for stigmatizing Israel - Haaretz - Israel News | WTF? * The Fascination of Israel – Forward.com | Review of three books on Israel. * «Il y a 40.000 Chinois en Algérie» | 40,000 Chinese in Algeria, 2000 Algerians in China. * Meedan | Moroccan and Jordanian forces join Saudi offensive against Houthis. | Handle with care, chief source appears to be Spanish press. * In Shift, Oren Calls J Street ‘A Unique Problem’ – Forward.com | Israel ambassador ramps up the attack on new lobby. * IRIN Middle East | EGYPT-ISRAEL: Perilous journey to the promised land | Middle East | Egypt Israel | Migration Refugees/IDPs | Feature | On sub-Saharan migration to Israel via Egypt. * Palestinians shoot at Egypt | Response to the collapsing of tunnels that have claimed many Palestinian lives? * Egypt's ailing cotton industry needs shake-up | Reuters | Industry risks a "slow death." * Middle East Report Online: Broken Taboos in Post-Election Iran by Ziba Mir-Hosseini | On the Green Movement and gender issues. * Egypt rebukes Hamas over 'foot-dragging' in Palestinian reconciliation - Israel News, Ynetnews | Omar Suleiman:
Suleiman said Egypt had promised Hamas it would address the terror group's reservations vis-à-vis the reconciliation deal "after they sign and begin to implement it." He said Hamas' concerns "lacked substance," adding that the agreement would not be revised. "If it will (be changed), I'll resign," said Suleiman.
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Links for Dec.13.09 to Dec.16.09

â�© Egypt puts archives on Web to boost Arabic content | But what's the address? â�© Muslims in Europe: A Report on 11 EU Cities | Open Society Institute | Tons of interesting questions raised by this ground-breaking poll. â�© Abkhazia Is Recognized by Even Smaller Nauru - NYTimes.com | Sharqeya next? â�© Pro-Israel Lobby Group’s Iran Petition Features Lots of Questionable Names « The Washington Independent | Such as "Porn Sex Video" and Comfylovely". â�© LedgerGermane: Karzai Says Afghan Army Will Need Help Until 2024 | Yikes. â�© Future of US-Egypt Relations: A View from the Next Generation | Notes on another POMED event. â�© POMED Event: U.S. Military Assistance: Obstacle or Opportunity for Reform? | Steven Cook, Emile Hokayem, etc. some discussion of Egypt-US military relations. â�© Mideastwire.com | Zaitout: reports about Algeria-US agreement over temporary military bases | Handle with care. â�© British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni | The Guardian | More of this please. â�© Nights to remember - The National Newspaper | Arabian Nights conference in NYU Abu Dhabi. â�© Obama's Big Sellout : Rolling Stone | Must-read Matt Taibbi story on Obama's bailout of Wall Street. â�© Al-Masry Al-Youm | Police raid home of prominent blogger | Wael Abbas sentenced to six months of prison in absentia for stealing his neighbors' internet??!?! â�© We will not bow to this Moroccan king | Paul Laverty and Ken Loach | Comment is free | The Guardian | Strongly worded op-ed for Aminatou Haidar. â�© David Ignatius - Jordan's ex-spy chief wasn't too good to be true | On former GID chief Saad Kheir - a dubious tribute. â�© Orientalism in Reverse | Brian Whitaker critiques Joseph Massad's "Gsy International" theory.
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Links for 10.14.09 to 10.18.09

Is Obama giving up on democracy in Iran? | Because Haaretz really, really cares. ✪ 'Delegitimization of Israel must be delegitimized' | Great pic on this FLC post. ✪ Al Jazeera English - Focus - Leadership 'let down' Palestinians | As`ad AbuKhalil. ✪ ANALYSIS / U.S. using Goldstone report to punish Netanyahu - Haaretz - Israel News | Ridiculous argument. ✪ Egypt: 29 years between a president and his heir | Bikya Masr | Ayman Nour on Mubarak's Egypt. ✪ Nationalism in the Gulf State | A LSE paper on GCC nationalism by Neil Partrick. ✪ In Morocco, editor imprisoned, court shutters paper - Committee to Protect Journalists | al-Michaal newspaper closed over articles on king's health. Also rumors of closing down of Le Journal, TBC. ✪ ei: EI exclusive video: Protesters shout down Ehud Olmert in Chicago | "The demonstration was mobilized last week after organizers learned of the lecture, paid for by a grant provided by Jordan's King Abdullah II." ✪ FT.com / UK - Storm over Egypt's Israeli links | On the Hala Mustafa / normalization debate. ✪ Citing Work Of Right-Wing Intern Spy, GOP Accuses Muslim Group Of Infiltrating Hill With Intern 'Spies' | TPMMuckraker | "Four House Republicans are charging that the Council on American Islamic Relations is infiltrating Capitol Hill with undercover interns, and they're basing the charge on a WND-published book that itself is based on the work of a man who posed as a Muslim to infiltrate CAIR as ... an intern!" ✪ Confessions of an AIPAC Veteran | Helena Cobban profiles Israel operative Tom Dine. ✪ Brian Whitaker's blog | The son also rises | Seif Qadhafi gets put in charge of, well, almost everything. ✪ First Egyptian School Closes For Swine Flu - Daily News | Mere de Dieu girls' school -- a stone's throw from Arabist HQ -- closed. ✪ U.S. Iran plan is a bunker-busting bomb - thestar.com | That's not very nice.
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Links for 10.08.09 to 10.09.09

‘Abuse’ of Islamic rule lands lawyer in court - The National Newspaper | About time someone stopped Nabih el Wahsh and his ridiculous hesba claims, but this needs to go further: a judicial ruling or new law should declare hesba unacceptable in courts.

Israel FM to tell U.S. envoy no peace deal possible | Lieberman always says what's on his mind.

Mideast sliding into 'darkness': Jordan king | Jordan's king does his Cassandra routine.

Sudan: SLM Warns US Envoy Not to Visit Darfur Areas Under Its Control Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | "The Sudan Liberation Army Movement [SLM] led by Abdul-Wahid Nur who resides in France has warned US Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration not to visit the areas in Darfur that are under its control and where he is expected to hold a conference in the "Darbat" area in Murrah Mountain on 20 October."

Unjustifiable To Lose ‘Goldstone’ Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | "It is not the time for point-scoring. Goldstone’s report marked the beginning of the international justice the Palestinian people need. The issue goes beyond political wrangling between Hamas and the PA, and also goes beyond the assumed price for slip ups. It is about responsibility for people’s lives."

‘The Times’ lets everyone off the hook on Goldstone | The NYT's continued hasbara on the Goldstone report.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | UN body to debate Gaza 'crimes' | Slated for 14 October.

Fatah seeks joint action with Hamas over Gaza report - Yahoo! News | About time.

ei: Abbas helps Israel bury its crimes in Gaza | Ali Abunimah: "Just when it seemed that the Ramallah Palestinian Authority (PA) and its leader Mahmoud Abbas could not sink any lower in their complicity with Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the murderous blockade of Gaza, Ramallah has dealt a further stunning blow to the Palestinian people."

“The Challenge of Moderation in Islam: Egypt’s Religious Institution Versus Extremism.” | POMED notes on speech by Egyptian Mufti Ali Gomaa.

Palestine on the brink: only a quick de-escalation can prevent an explosion | Israel Policy Forum | Hussein Ibish.

Abbas Cancels Israel War-Crimes Report, Boosting Hamas - Yahoo! News | It's over for Abbas, morally now and politically eventually.

Saudi, Syria agree to 'remove obstacles' to closer ties - Yahoo! News | They also called for a NUG to be formed in Lebanon.

Security Council to raise UN Gaza report next week - Yahoo! News | Libya move to push for discussion of Goldstone report moves ahead, despite Mahmoud Abbas's failure to push for it (and his subsequent reversal.)

All these Abdelazizes | New head of Western Sahara mission MINURSO is Egyptian.

Oren likens Goldstone to… Nazi threat | Israel Ambassador to US Michael Oren: Goldstone = Nazis = Nuclear Annihilation.

Agents arrest dozens for theft scheme in US, Egypt | Egyptian hackers engage in $2m phishing scam.

Pew Forum: Mapping the Global Muslim Population | Pew report says there are 1.57bn Muslims, analysis and breakdown through maps and more.

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Links for 09.01.09 to 09.02.09

The first Islamic search engine? - The Majlis | About imhalal.com which filters haram links out of searches. Seems pretty useless to me but it's fun to keep on searching for dirty words, and if you try you'll see the site does not work very well. ✪ ei: Liberation, not a fictitious Palestinian "state" | Hassan Abunimah on the Fayyad plan and the alleged Obama outlines for peace, which he describes as including "international armed forces in most of the Palestinian "state"; Israeli annexation of large parts of East Jerusalem; that "All Palestinian factions would be dissolved and transformed into political parties"; all large Israeli settlements would remain under permanent Israeli control; the Palestinian state would be largely demilitarized and Israel would retain control of its airspace; intensified Palestinian-Israeli "security coordination"; and the entity would not be permitted to have military alliances with other regional countries." And of course no right of return. ✪ Israel PM vowed not to freeze settlements: minister (AFP) | "AFP - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed not to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank, according to one of his ministers quoted on Wednesday." ✪ Brian Whitaker's blog | Trials of a Jordanian poet | One year for poet who used Quranic references in his love poetry, gets threats from MB, mufti calls him apostate. ✪ LedgerGermane: Rectum? Damn Near Killed 'Em! | Prince Muhammad bin Nayif's would-be killer had explosives stashed in rectum. Ouch. ✪ Quarante années de crimes | Ibn Kakfa on 40 years of the criminal Qadhafi regime, which "disappeared" many dissidents at home and abroad. ✪ Iraq's flawed media law | Brian Whitaker on the draft Iraqi media law, which resembles that of other Arab states.
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"Wandering off the reservation"

The Forward on Abdullah, the puppet-king of Jordan -- how many countries' leaders do you think are regularly spoken about in this manner?

Even Jordan, one of the most pro-Western, anti-fundamentalist regimes in the Arab world, is testing the waters. Jordanian defense officials met with senior officials from Hamas over the past few weeks to talk security. The powwow was a direct breach of the strict quarantine around Hamas leaders declared by Washington. A year ago, Jordan’s young king would not have dreamed of wandering so far off the reservation. Right now, though, the Hashemite kingdom evidently sees which way the wind is blowing and does not want to be caught short.

[From The Shifting Ground - Forward.com"]
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Links for November 25th

Automatically posted links for November 25th:

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Jordan: Newspaper banned for publishing anti-Hamas plan details

From the Committee to Protect Journalists:
Jordan blocks newspaper edition over story on ‘secret’ Palestinian plan New York, April 30, 2007—Jordanian authorities should lift their ban on today’s edition of an independent paper, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Fahd al-Rimawi, editor of the weekly Al-Majd, told CPJ that security agents moved Sunday to prevent printing of the edition because of a front-page story about a “secret plan” to oust the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Al-Rimawi said security officials told him they would ban the April 30 edition if he did not remove the article, The Associated Press reported. In an interview with CPJ, al-Rimawi said the issue had already been sent out for printing. Like many small tabloids in Jordan, Al-Majd is printed by larger publications that own printing presses. In this case, the leading pro-government daily Al-Rai handles Al-Majd’s printing. The ban was triggered by Al-Majd’s publication of a purported 16-page secret plan, devised by U.S. and unnamed Arab “sides,” that would enable Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to oust the rival Hamas-led Palestinian government from power. The article, which included documents and details of the purported plan, could still be viewed late today on Al-Majd’s Web site.
Here's the link to the article.
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King PS2 goes nuclear

So it appears from this Haaretz interview of King Abdullah "PS2" (like most people he can't find a PS3) that Jordan is joining the fast-growing gang of Arab countries with civilian nuclear programs and an ambiguous attitude as where there is going to be anything more than just civilian. The boy-king says Jordan has to even though it probably can't afford to, because of those nasty Iranians and their Shia crescent. Which is probably a lot of bull -- if Jordan gets a nuclear power station, it's because men with little black briefcases will have toured Arab capitals trying to sell multi-billion dollar plants with the backing of their governments. If Jordan goes though with, you can bet its power station will be mostly funded by the US taxpayer thanks to the Bush administration pandering to the nuclear energy lobby. That is not to say that other strategic considerations aren't important, most notably Jordan's long-term energy security. But this is not Iran's nuclear program for sure -- unless the Jordanians mean that they want to have a nuclear bomb too, but that's not want he's saying:
"But, the rules have changed on the nuclear subject throughout the whole region. Where I think Jordan was saying, 'we'd like to have a nuclear-free zone in the area,' after this summer, everybody's going for nuclear programs. "The Egyptians are looking for a nuclear program. The GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] are looking at one, and we are actually looking at nuclear power for peaceful and energy purposes. We've been discussing it with the West. "I personally believe that any country that has a nuclear program should conform to international regulations and should have international regulatory bodies that check to make sure that any nuclear program moves in the right direction."
I was actually more interested in other parts of the interview that were highly telling of King PS2's personality. 1. He thinks of himself as a representative of the US government:
I can say that on behalf of the U.S. president and the secretary of state, and I've talked to both, that they're very serious and very committed to moving the peace process forward, because they realize the dynamics of the region at the moment.
2. He's unhappy about Israel losing to Hizbullah last summer and doesn't bother to mention the irresponsibility of Israel's actions:
The frequency of conflict in this region is extremely alarming, and the perception, I believe, among Arabs, and partly among Israelis, is that in the summer Israel lost this round... And that creates a very difficult and a very dangerous precedence for radical thinking in the area. The stakes are getting higher and higher.
But now I suppose I have to reluctantly recognize other bits of the interview were interesting, and I suppose no head of state can give very revealing interviews anyway. Still, his unwillingness to be a tougher critic of Israel, the main "saboteur" of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, is regrettable.
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Best headline of 2007

OK so it's only been a few hours:
Jordan king complains of Israeli odors
JERUSALEM - Jordanian King Abdullah II has complained of bovine odors coming from the Israeli side of the frontier along the countries' shared southern border, Israel's environment minister said Monday. Speaking to Israel Radio, Gideon Ezra said the smells, from a livestock quarantine facility, were blown across the frontier toward the king's palace in the town of Aqaba, on the Red Sea next to the Israeli town of Eilat. Jordanian officials contacted Israel last week and requested the odors be neutralized, Ezra said.
That's King PS2 for you: never complains about Israeli policies, but gets indignant when an unsavory smell drifts over into his palace. It probably distracts him when he's playing Grand Theft Auto III.
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Stubborn stability

Carnegie has a new paper on how Jordan, er, should be more democratic. I have an idea: get rid of the Hashemites. Perhaps they should rule Saudi Arabia instead, it's bound to be an improvement and anyway it's the Hegazis' turn again. More seriously, it's nice to see an establishment think tank like Carnegie take the US to task for enabling puppet Jordan's authoritarian drift.
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Jordan to get film school

The diversity of attempts to normalize relations between Israel and Arab states always astounds me:
The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts is in line with His Majesty's efforts to harness the skills of Jordanian youth by exposing them to the latest technologies in filmmaking and production. The institute would also contribute to His Majesty's vision of establishing a hub for intellectual and creative capital in Jordan, where youth in the region can be equipped with the necessary tools for success. His Majesty drew on the expertise of filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who recommended the partnership with USC, to make this project a reality. "When His Majesty the King approached me on the subject of a Jordan-based, world-class film school serving every country in the Middle East, including Israel, I immediately saw the importance and significance of such a venture for the people and the future of the region.
I have no doubt that films schools in the Arab world are an excellent idea, especially considering the decline of Arab cinema over the last 50 years (especially technically - new movies use cheap film that produces horrible results compared to ones from the 1950s that still look splendid). But why do it with Israel? His Majesty King PS2 once again does his eager Uncle Tom routine.
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The coming fall of King PS2?

Finally, someone does a decent article on Jordan! The LA Times' great Borzu Daragahi makes an unconvincing parallel between the Shah of Iran and King Abdullah "PS2", but his article his shock full of interesting tidbits:
Numerous parallels exist between the shah's rule and that of Abdullah. Like the shah's SAVAK security and intelligence service, Jordan's General Intelligence Department, now in a new hilltop complex in an Amman suburb, operates as a "subdivision" of the CIA, said Alexis Debat, a former French Defense Ministry official who is a counter-terrorism consultant and a senior fellow at the Nixon Center in Washington. By Debat's estimates, the Jordanian intelligence agency receives at least $20 million a year in U.S. funding for operations and liaison work. "They're doing all the legwork for the CIA," he said. The Jordanians have become one of Washington's closest allies in the intelligence-gathering business, second only to Britain's MI6, counter-intelligence experts say. They are closer to the CIA than the Mossad, Israel's much-touted intelligence agency, which is considered to have too much of an agenda of its own to be completely reliable, Debat said. Like the Iran of the 1970s, Jordan has become a receptacle of U.S. interests and trade. American aid to the kingdom has totaled $3.59 billion over the last five years, compared with $1.36 billion during the previous five years, according to the Congressional Research Service. Like the shah's regime, the Jordanian monarchy has surrounded itself with American hardware. Just before Hussein's death, Amman took delivery of 16 advanced F-16 fighter jets. "That was a sort of threshold that Jordan crossed," said Michael R. Fischbach, a professor of history at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia. "They got truly advanced weaponry. It made Jordan have aircraft on par with Israel." U.S.-made military hardware abounds on Jordan's streets. Jordanian soldiers carrying American-made M-16 assault rifles and riding in olive-green U.S.-made Humvees watch over sensitive military and political sites in Amman, the capital. Convoys of U.S. military transport trucks move in and out of the country. Perhaps most controversially, say Amnesty International and other human rights groups, Jordan has become an important nexus in U.S. intelligence's subterranean "renditions" network, in which terrorism suspects are secretly detained and interrogated in countries with blemished human rights records. Jordanian officials deny participation in the program. Many worry that bolstering Jordanian security forces amid widespread reports of abuses against detainees has hampered the country's baby steps toward democratization.
Sure, King PS2 is one of the most contemptible Arab rulers -- even if Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an unusually addictive Playstation game. But raising the specter of a Jordanian Khomeini is really scare-mongering (there is no one in Jordan with the stature Khomeini had even 20 years before he came to power to Iran.) If Abdullah went, he would probably be replaced by a more intelligent relative. Anyway, I'm no expert on Jordanian domestic politics so just read the whole thing.
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"Free trade" and human trafficking in Jordan

Modern slavery in Jordan:
Tens of Thousands of Foreign Guest workers Stripped of their passports, trapped in involuntary servitude, sewing clothing for Wal-Mart, Gloria Vanderbilt, Target, Kohl's, Thalia Sodi for Kmart, Victoria's Secret, L.L.Bean and others. In the Western factory, which was producing for Wal-Mart, four young women, including a 16-year old girl, were raped by plant managers. Despite being forced to work 109 hours a week, including 20-hour shifts, the workers received no wages for six months. Workers who fell asleep from exhaustion were struck with a ruler to wake them up. At the Al Shahaed factory, also producing for Wal-Mart, there were 24, 38 and even 72-hour shifts. The workers were paid an average wage of two cents an hour. Workers were slapped, kicked, punched and hit with sticks and belts. In a factory called Al Safa, which was sewing garments for Gloria Vanderbilt, a young woman hung herself after being raped by a manager. All across Jordan, tens of thousands of foreign guest workers, mostly from Bangladesh, China, India and Sri Lanka, are routinely forced to work 100-plus hours a week while being cheated of upwards of half the wages legally owed them. Any worker asking for their proper wages can be imprisoned. Factory bathrooms lack toilet paper, soap and towels. Dorm conditions are primitive, often lacking running water three or four days a week. Any worker speaking one word of truth about the abusive factory conditions will be attacked and forcibly deported without any of the back wages due them. Jordan's apparel exports to the U.S. are up 2000 percent between 2000 and 2005, reaching $1.1 billion, and these garments enter the U.S. duty-free. (Garments from Jordan go to Europe as well as the U.S.)
It's incredible how this sweatshop model of manufacturing is spreading into new countries. Clearly the US companies commissioning this need to be held accountable, especially as I doubt the Jordanian legal system would be of any use. Prison terms for senior management and key shareholders come to mind. And this of course in Jordan, which is meant to be a "model" for economic development and to have benefited so much from the Israeli-Jordanian-US QIZ agreement. But of course King Abdullah is "wise" and "moderate" -- not a short, fat Quisling.
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