The Cafe

The king and the people!

What does the future hold for Jordan – a country plagued by corruption, economic stagnation and ethnic tension?

Bordering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the turmoil in Syria, and with internal pressure for greater reforms, how will Jordan’s monarchy respond?
It has a population of less than seven million people, no oil, and it relies on aid from its rich neighbours and its friends in the West. But a combination of geography and history has blessed or, depending on your perspective, cursed the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, with a critical role in the politics of the Middle East, the Israel-Palestine conflict and, of course, the Arab Spring.

The Café this week is in Amman to discover what the future holds for a country plagued by corruption and economic stagnation and with a population divided between ethnic Jordanians and marginalised Palestinians.

But it is not just the Palestinians who are disgruntled. The opposition to the regime ranges from the Muslim Brotherhood, to the middle classes to the former army generals and Bedouin tribal leaders that the ruling royal family has traditionally relied on for support. Criticism of King Abdullah and his wife, the glamorous queen Rania, is now commonplace here in the capital city. But the question is: Do Jordanians want reform or a revolution?

Joining our conversation in The Cafe in Amman are guests:

Mohammad Halaiqa, a former deputy prime minister who has served in four previous governments and is credited with introducing economic and legal reforms; Dima Tahboub, a member of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, who represents the new progressive trend within the organisation and emphasises the Islamic identity of the kingdom of Jordan; Jamal Tahat, the co-founder of the Public Assembly for Reform, an organisation that advocates a constitutional monarchy in Jordan; Lina Shanak, a blogger who writes for in tackling the contentious issue of national identity, particularly the split between Jordanians of Palestinian descent and those who come from the Bedouin tribes; Nabil El Sharif, a former minister of information and government spokesman who also served as the head of Jordan’s Media Institute and is now a respected political columnist; and Khaled Jarrar, an Islamist blogger who believes the ruling secular elite does not represent the majority of religious Jordanians.


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