Islamists and trade unions have protested in front of the Egyptian embassy in Amman, Jordan, expressing solidarity with anti-government demonstrators in Egypt and demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.
Mubarak, you are a traitor and an American agent, the crowd shouted. Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Arabia awaits you.”
Among the Jordanian protesters was the leader of that country’s Muslim Brotherhood group, who warned that the civil unrest in Egypt will spill over across the Mideast and North Africa, ultimately resulting in the ouster of Arab rulers supported by the U.S.
Hammam Saeed and about 100 members of his fundamentalist group were joined by trade unions and other left-wing organizations.
We say to the Americans, 'do not interfere', he stated. Your control which has lasted 100 years is finished. We are living in a new era.
Similar protests have also been reported in Yemen and even Saudi Arabia.
The Americans and [President Barack] Obama must be losing sleep over the popular revolt in Egypt, Saeed said. Now, Obama must understand that the people have woken up and are ready to unseat the tyrant leaders who remained in power because of U.S. backing. We tell the Americans 'enough is enough'”.
More worrying to Jordan’s ruling elite, another group of about 300 protesters assembled in front of Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s office, demanding his resignation, citing rising poverty, inflation and joblessness.
Rifai, it's time for you to go, the group chanted.
Saeed himself said that Jordan’s political leaders must draw lessons from Tunisia and Egypt and “must swiftly implement political reforms.
Indeed, Rifai has already responded to some of the public’s discontent – he recently unveiled $550 million in subsidies for fuel and staples like sugar, rice, and gas used for heating and cooking. The package also includes pay hikes for civil servants and security personnel.
The king of Jordan, Abdullah II, is an ally of the U.S. and has recently suggested he will institute reforms to boost a faltering economy and ease some political restrictions.
However, protests in Jordan have been limited to small groups. The reigning monarch enjoys the support of the military and much of the populace. Moreover, the king has already acceded to moderate reforms, including holding elections – although he steadfastly retained his right to name the prime minister and cabinet ministers, as granted him under the 1952 Constitution.