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December 10, 2018 No.
1427

Growing Calls In Jordan To Enact Political Reforms, Limit King's Powers

By: Z. Harel*

Introduction

In recent months, King 'Abdallah II of Jordan has been facing growing criticism within the country and calls to limit his powers, from both popular elements and political circles. On October 6, 2018, the "National Follow-Up Committee," a group of 143 politicians and military veterans, issued a statement in which they harshly protested what they called the dire condition of the country, the king's disregard of demands for reform, and the abuse of the powers conferred upon the king and his court, and called to curtail these powers. Since its initial release, the statement has been signed by over 1,000 people.

The wave of criticism has been growing since the unrest in the spring of 2018 protesting the dire economic situation in Jordan. These protests included strikes and mass demonstrations throughout the kingdom at which calls against the king were occasionally heard, holding him responsible for the crisis.[1] Even after these protests died down and a new government was formed in June 2018, calls for reform and in particular for limiting the king's powers persisted, voiced by social media users and small grassroots protest movements, but also by members of parliament. For example, a parliamentary faction comprising mainly of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members demanded the transfer of some of the King's powers to the government. In addition, two MPs criticized Queen Rania's intervention in matters of state, saying she has no authority to do so. The tense atmosphere was exacerbated by the king's long and unexplained absence from Jordan in July 2018, which sparked criticism on social media and malicious rumors that he is in ill health or has changed his position on the Palestinian issue.

King 'Abdallah tried to rebuff the criticism. Implicitly alluding to the Follow-Up Committee's statement, he admitted that mistakes had been made and that the dissatisfaction among the citizens reflected their waning confidence in the state institutions, but called to focus on the kingdom's achievements and to channel the dissatisfaction toward improving the situation. On several occasions he also denied the rumors that had been spread about him. The Jordanian press also rallied to the King's defense. Writers, especially in the government daily Al-Rai, rejected the calls to limit the King's powers and condemned those who spread the rumors, accusing them of attempting to destabilize the country.

In the past two weeks, protests over the government's economic policy were renewed, including demonstrations in central Amman, for instance on November 30 and December 6. The demonstrators cried out against the corruption and stifling of free speech in the country, and also voiced criticism of the king and called for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.[2] It should be noted that the direct criticism of the King voiced in recent months echoes the demands made in 2011 for comprehensive political reforms, the curtailing of the King's authority and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in Jordan.[3]

It cannot be ruled out that 'Abdallah's October 2018 decision regarding the peace treaty with Israel – namely the decision not to renew annexes to the peace treaty leasing two enclaves of land to Israel – was an attempt to quell the anger against him, especially since this was one of the demands made in the Follow-Up Committee's statement.

This report reviews the criticism directed at King 'Abdallah over the past few months as well as the calls to limit his powers, and the reactions to these calls.

The National Follow-Up Committee's Statement Calls To Limit The King's Powers: The King's Powers Have Been Abused; Jordan Is Not Anyone's Private Estate

As noted, the statement released by the National Follow-Up Committee on October 6 protests the dire situation in the country and the king's disregard of the repeated calls for reform, and accuses him and his court of abusing their powers. Originally signed by 143 people, among them former MP and labor minister Amjad Al-Majali and the former general guide of the MB in Jordan, Salam Al-Falahat, it also states that Jordan is not anyone's "private estate" and calls to take a number of measures to limit the king's powers. Since its release the statement has been signed by over 1,000 people.[4]

The statement says: "Our country is experiencing very complicated political, economic and social conditions... The appeals by the vast majority of the people, from all sectors, to enact a genuine reform in all areas... have not met with an adequate response but have been ignored, while the situation in the country continues to deteriorate more and more. The 2014 constitutional amendments gave the King additional absolute powers,[5] which he delegated to others, and they abused them. This led to the deepening of corruption, which has become open and widespread, while no means are available to monitor it or hold [the culprits] to account. The royal court and the centers of power have been filled to excess with thousands of civil servants and have become an authority above all others, contrary to the Constitution. This has dangerous and devastating implications for Jordan's present and future...

"[Yet] despite the public rage, which has steadily mounted over the past years, the king's response was limited to empty and ineffective formalities and unfulfilled promises, intended to distract the people from the frequent corruption scandals and the autocratic character of the regime.


The National Follow-Up Committee's statement (image: Twitter.com/7iber, October 20, 2018)

"We therefore declare that this stage has reached an impasse and must end, and that a new phase must begin, devoted to a national project with clear objectives and means, based on a number of clear national principles, including [the following]: Jordan is a cherished sovereign country, not a private estate managed according to the interest and will of the king or anyone else. The people are the source of authority, as stated in the Constitution, and therefore it is the people who vest the executive branch with powers through free and fair general elections. As such, the people are the sole source of legitimacy. According to the Constitution of Jordan, the regime is parliamentary, with hereditary monarchic rule. This is a clear reference to the model of a democratic monarchic-parliamentary rule. The Jordanian people will by no means agree to continue living under an absolute monarchy, against their will and in violation of the Constitution."

The statement also protests the centrality of the royal court in Jordan's decision-making processes: "The royal court has no constitutional status that invests it with executive authority, but at present its authority supersedes that of all [other] state institutions – the  legislative, judicial and executive branches of government – in violation of the Constitution. In order to rectify this and reinstate the rule of law and of the state institutions, there must be an end to these violations and to the intervention of the royal court in the state institutions, and to the mixing of their authorities."

The statement calls to take the following measures in order to curtail the king's authority: "The king's departure from the country, for any reason, will be with the approval of the government, and the approval will specify the destination of the [foreign] visit, its duration, its objectives and its cost. The king's deputy will be sworn-in in the presence of the government. The king and his family shall be allotted a specific salary and their expenses shall be regulated by a special law, and subject to all taxes imposed on [other] Jordanian citizens." The statement also implicitly criticizes the concentration of security powers in the hands of the king: "The armed forces and the security services... should be branches of the government, which is the general authority in the state and is responsible for all its mechanisms..."

Also with the aim of diminishing the king's powers, and in the spirit of demands made in 2011, the statement calls to let the people elect both houses of parliament (currently only the lower house is elected whereas the members of the upper house are appointed by the king); expand the executive powers of the government at the expense of the king's by forming "a national government of renowned, reliable and honest figures that will possess general authority in the full sense of the word, in accordance with the Constitution," and to hold genuine and fair elections that reflect the will of the Jordanian people in accordance with an election law that will ensure representation for all parties and will be accepted by the people..." Another demand is to restore state lands, including the Al-Ghamr and Al-Baqoura enclaves leased to Israel as part of the peace treaty, to Jordanian control. The statement concludes by announcing the commencement of "an ongoing and growing national work plan, beginning with a national rally in the square outside the Al-Urdun Hospital [next to the Prime Minister's Office in Amman] on Saturday, October 20, 2018."[6]

On October 20, a rally was indeed held at the specified location, attended by hundreds of activists who demanded comprehensive reforms and an end to the intervention of non-constitutional bodies in the management of the state. Among the slogans were "No to the hegemony of the royal court," "No power without accountability," "Jordan is a free country, not a [private] estate of corrupt [officials]," "who said the people are dead? The people are the source of authority;" "Shame, shame, they sold out the country for dollars," and "An elected government is the general authority."[7]

It should be noted that the Follow-Up Committee's statement and rally were barely acknowledged in the Jordanian media. A few local websites quoted from the statement,[8] but the leading papers ignored the statement and reported only briefly on the rally. Even the MB mouthpiece Al-Sabil and the albosala.com website, which is affiliated with the movement, reported on the rally laconically without mentioning the Follow-Up Committee or its statement.[9] The committee itself posted the statement on a Facebook account it opened on October 18 ahead of the protest rally, and several of the signatories to the statement posted it on their private pages as well.[10]  

 
Protestor at the rally; the sign reads: "[We want] elected authorities, not unsuccessful appointments [by the king]" (image: facebook.com/HerakDhiban, October 20, 2018)

Growing Criticism Of King Among Popular, Political Circles In The Months Prior To The Release Of The Statement

The National Follow-Up Committee's statement did not emerge in a vacuum. In the preceding months, demands were repeatedly voiced in Jordan to diminish the king's authority and even establish a constitutional monarchy, calls that were also heard in Jordan during the Arab Spring protests of 2011.

Popular Calls For "Constitutional Monarchy" And Curtailing "The Absolute Powers Of The King"

During the economic protests in the spring of 2018, which included sit-ins and mass demonstrations throughout Jordan, calls were heard holding the king responsible for the difficult economic situation, and demands were made on social media to limit the extent of his powers. A Facebook user from Amman, 'Awni Al-Fayez, wrote: "It's time for Jordan to become a constitutional monarchy, in which the king's powers will be radically curtailed so that his role will be limited to ceremonial functions. He has appointed the prime ministers for the last 20 years and the results have been absolutely disastrous! The prime minister should be elected by the people. Let's stop kidding ourselves. Everyone knows the king alone is responsible for the political and economic deterioration in the country, but we were raised to be afraid and not to point fingers at him. A constitutional monarchy, and nothing else, is the way out of the present crisis."[11] 


'Awni Al-Fayez's post

The demands for political reform and a constitutional monarchy persisted even after these protests waned in June 2018 following the resignation of the government and the appointment of a new one under 'Omar Al-Razzaz. One of the protest movements, "the Freedom-Seekers of Amman for Change," called on its Facebook page for "a fundamental, essential and full change of the system of government and restoring power to the people," adding: "There will be no solution in Jordan and no genuine reform without changing the system [of government], amending the Constitution, restoring power [to the people] and reforming the public judicial system... [There must be] an end to the one-man rule and a true and significant curtailing of the king's absolute powers... which are more extensive than the powers of any ruler in the world today, with the exception of [the rulers of] some oppressive police states and dictatorships."[12] Similar calls for political reforms and for an elected prime minister were made at a protest over the economic crisis and the corruption in the country, held on August 25 in front of the royal palace in the Dabouq area of Amman. The protest was dispersed on orders of Amman governor Sa'd Shihab on the grounds that it was held without a license.[13]  

King's Long Absence From Amman Sparks Wave Of Rumors

On June 21, 2018 the king and his wife Rania flew to the U.S. to meet with President Trump and members of Congress.  On July 10 the king attended the Sun Valley Economic Forum in Idaho,[14] but during the subsequent three weeks, until his return to Jordan on August 1, no information was provided regarding his whereabouts. This sparked a wave of rumors in Jordan, mainly on social media, including that the king was very ill,[15] or that his meeting with Trump had brought about a radical change in his positions, causing him to withdraw his support from the Palestinian cause.[16]

MB Members In Parliament Call For Reforms Entailing A Reduction Of King's Powers

The demand for political reforms was also heard from the MB in Jordan. The National Coalition for Reform (NCR) parliamentary faction, which includes members of the Jordanian MB, said it would not support the Al-Razzaz government unless measures were taken to transfer powers from the king to the government. In a meeting with Al-Razzaz ahead of the swearing-in of his government, NCR chairman 'Abdallah Al-'Akaileh demanded political reforms, including significant amendments to the Constitution that would restore power to the government, so that parliament could perform its function of holding the executive branch to account.[17] In his speech before the swearing-in ceremony, Al-'Akaileh said: "Jordan's problem today is not just economic... There is a pressing need for political reform, which is the key to all [other] aspects of reform." His faction would only support the government, he said, if the latter "claimed general authority over all the state sectors and institutions, thus becoming the [real] decision-maker regarding all the affairs and needs of society..." Protesting the situation whereby Jordan has no ministry of defense and the king effectively serves as the defense minister and as the supreme authority in matters of security, Al-'Akaileh called to establish a ministry of national security to be in charge of the General Intelligence Directorate, and an independent defense ministry to be in charge of the armed forces. In addition, he demanded constitutional amendments to limit the king's exclusive authority to appoint the prime minister and the heads of the security apparatuses.[18]

Queen Rania Criticized For Intervening In Matters Of State

As part of the surge of dissatisfaction with the king in the past few months, criticism was also directed at his wife Rania. In July 2018, during a parliamentary debate on the government's guidelines, MP Ghazi Al-Hawamleh claimed that the queen was intervening in matters of state and that the "mixing" of the king's and queen's authorities was "a burden on Jordan and its policy."

For a Memri TV clip of his statements, click the player below:

Jordanian MP Ghazi Al-Hawmlah Faces Disciplinary Action for Criticizing Queen Rania in Parliamentary Session

Al-Hawamleh was referred to the parliament's Committee on Rules and Discipline for his remarks about the queen.[19] This provoked a protest rally in his governorate of Al-Tafila, whose participants issued a statement of support for him, saying: "[We], public figures from the Al-Tafila governorate, support the comments made by MP and attorney Ghazi Al-Hawamleh during the parliamentary session... [He] did not dishonor the regime or the state; rather, he expressed the feelings of the honorable people of [this] homeland... We convey a ringing message to Amman: If the parliament takes any unfair decision regarding this exceptional MP, the response will transcend [the boundaries] of Al-Tafila [and be heard] throughout Jordan, so as to prevent the continuation of this injustice [that comes] at the expense of the homeland's supreme interests."[20]

On September 9, MP Saleh Al-'Armouti submitted a question to the government regarding the "Queen Rania Center for Training and Development," its relations with the Ministry of Education,  the nationality of the people it employs, its functions and its sources of funding.[21] Queen Rania responded in a tweet that there is no such center,[22] although an organization called the Queen Rania Foundation for Training and Development does in fact exist.[23]

Political activist Hussam Al-'Abdullat also implicitly criticized the queen, writing on his Facebook page on November 30: "Queen Rania... don't think I am interested in writing about the price of your clothes, your travel expenses or the cost of the parties you organize, for that is a private matter between you and your husband... In this post I am not interested in what foreign papers and magazines write about your elegant appearance, or the criticism directed at you under headlines [such as] 'Queen Rania Buys Clothes, Handbags and Fancy Shoes While the People Bear the Burden of Poverty, Unemployment and Taxes'... [But] since the foreign and local media are always marketing your charity activities and humanitarian initiatives, and since I noticed that you never wear the same garment twice, I have a request:... Give me the dresses and bags you no longer need, and by selling them I will be able to buy food for the poor..."[24] Two days after this post appeared, Al-'Abdullat's lawyer said that he had been arrested in connection with "political posts on his Facebook page and a complaint filed against him by a member of parliament."[25]

It should be mentioned that similar accusations against the queen were voiced during the Arab Spring protests in Jordan in 2011-2012, and she was also accused of seizing state lands for the royal family and of stealing from the state treasury.[26]

In a July 18 article on the Jordanian news site watannews.net, journalist 'Abd Al-Fattah Touqan, who writes on Jordanian and Arab websites, expressed his support for MP Al-Hawamleh, saying that his statements reflected the opinion of his voters and of the Jordanian public at large. The freedom to discuss the king and queen's authorities indicates the extent of democracy in Jordan, he said, and there should be an open debate on this matter. "The debate about Queen Rania's conduct has been ongoing for years and is nothing new," he noted. "The [Jordanian] media has avoided a transparent discussion of this issue and has not clarified to the public how the [queen's role] complements that of the king. The debate continued in whispers until MP Al-Hawamleh broke the barrier [of silence]. [His remarks] were misconstrued and used to spark unnecessary controversy... Some think that the [Jordanian] people are unaware of the decisions in which [the queen] was involved, the women ministers who were appointed on her recommendation and the ministers she promoted and supported, including [the current prime minister], 'Omar Al-Razzaz.[27] In addition, [everyone knows about] her role in selecting the director of Al-Mamlaka TV and in other matters. Everyone is discussing this behind the scenes. All Jordanians thrive on this debate and pass [the rumors] from mouth to ear. Nobody spoke out until now, but social media abounded with posts attacking the queen, while the [traditional] media slept on, ignoring [the talk] and burying its head in the sand like an ostrich...

"Anyone familiar with the Constitution and its provisions knows that it contains no clause that shields the queen or the king's consort from accountability and no clause that sets out her authorities and duties. It is only the king [himself] who is immune [from accountability] and whose authorities are clearly set out in the Constitution... The present parliament is the one that conferred upon King 'Abdallah II the authority to appoint and dismiss the heads of the security apparatuses without the government's approval, unlike what was stipulated in the 1952 constitution,[28]  and therefore the parliament may [both] confer authority and withdraw or revoke it...

"Whether or not the parliament will launch a civilized debate on the unclear issue of the king's and queen's authorities constitutes a test for [Jordan's] democracy. The protest movement demanded this in May 2018... and the Jordanian people have firm positions on this issue... We need a transparent and bold debate about the [respective] authorities of the parliament, the king and the queen in light of the Constitution, in which all opinions will be heard, even if the tone becomes shrill and the discussion becomes uncivilized. [We must discuss this] without [involving] the hammer of the [parliament's] Rules and Discipline Committee and without burying MPs alive, expelling them or dismissing them."[29]

The King And Establishment Reject The Criticism: The Rumors Harm Jordan, Are A Failed Attempt To Destabilize The Kingdom

The king and his associates responded only indirectly to the criticism voiced in the last few months, while rejecting the claims and stressing that rumors and personal accusations against the monarch harm Jordan and its reputation. King 'Abdallah rejected the rumors spread during his absence in the summer, especially the rumor that he had withdrawn his support from the Palestinian cause. In a government session on August 5, several days after his return to Jordan, he said: "The position we express in closed rooms is the one we announce to the world. It is a firm position, which will never change... I hear many rumors inside and outside [Jordan]. Where do people get these ideas? I don't know."[30] The king addressed the topic again several days later in a meeting with local dignitaries in Jordan's desert region, saying: "As for the defense of Jerusalem and the future of Palestine – I hear rumors and I have no idea where people get them. We Jordanians know what is needed, and the most important thing for us is the future of Jordan and [determining] how to help our brethren in the [West] Bank and Jerusalem."[31]  

Jordan's General Fatwa Department joined the efforts to stop the spread of rumors. After the king's return to Jordan it issued a fatwa stating that "social media are being put to bad use, turning them into a source of corruption, biased rumors, slander against [people's] reputation, sin, and the spreading of abominations and lies. This is a violation of the [Islamic] shari'a... Spreading false rumors is tantamount to lying, and this contravenes the shari'a and is a great sin."[32]

In a speech he delivered at the opening the Jordanian parliament session on October 14, 2018, about a week after the publication of the Follow-Up Committee's statement, King 'Abdallah alluded to it obliquely, saying: "While following the affairs of the homeland and the citizen, I noticed that there is dissatisfaction with the handling of some current challenges. Jordan's journey of construction and development – like that of other countries – has included some errors and challenges, which we must learn from in order to ensure that they do not recur and in order to handle them, so that we can advance on our journey. Unfortunately, this dissatisfaction results from a decline in the citizen's confidence in the government institutions and from a public climate permeated with doubt, which leads to frustration and regression. We must remember that countries aren't built on doubt or self-flagellation, nor on contempt for achievements or their denial, but rather through knowledge, will and serious work. By addressing you [the members of parliament] I address all the Jordanians and say to them: 'Treat Jordan fairly and remember its achievements, so that your dissatisfaction with the present difficulties will be transformed into energy that will propel you forward… One must beware of those who contribute, deliberately or inadvertently, to the spreading of baseless rumors and accusations in order to denigrate Jordan's reputation and achievements. We will not allow Jordan's reputation to be put to the test."[33]


The king delivering his speech to parliament (image: Al-Ghad, Jordan, October 15, 2018)

At a cultural event in Fuhais on October 20, 2018, Samir Al-Rifa'i, deputy speaker of the Senate (the upper house of parliament) and a former prime minister of Jordan, also referred to the criticism of the king, saying: "All the campaigns to cast doubt or cause confusion are in no way meant to benefit Jordan or the Jordanians… These are personal and damaging blows that are occasionally directed at [one of] the leaders of the homeland – the king or a member of the noble [royal] family – in an attempt to hurt them through deception and confusion. These blows do not [just] personally hurt the king – the symbol of our honor. They hurt all Jordanians before they hurt the royal family. This is a failed attempt to destabilize the country and to poison pure waters, perpetrated by people who do not have the best interests of Jordan or the royal family at heart."[34]

Jordanian Media Rejects The Criticism Of The King And The Calls To Limit His Authority

The Jordanian press likewise published articles in the last few months rejecting the criticism of the king, the rumors about him and the calls to limit his powers, and warning that, if the protests continue, Jordan may share the fate of the countries which collapsed following the Arab Spring.

Minister Of Information: The Dogs May Bark But The Caravan Moves On

On October 9, 2018, several days after the publication of the statement against the king, Saleh Al-Qallab, a former information minister and now a columnist for the government daily Al-Rai, dismissed the statement without alluding to it directly, and called on Jordanians to rally around 'Abdallah's leadership. He wrote, "As our country Jordan faces a difficult predicament, most if not all Jordanians should continue to march forward with sure steps and complete self-confidence, rather than engage in all the shouting [heard] at home and also abroad. For [Jordan] is accustomed to all this and has already experienced situations more difficult and severe than the present one – yet the processions of [Jordan's] best [people] continued to march forward with determination and awareness, and to accomplish all that we have achieved, granting us and Jordan a respected and valued status on the international map and in the world at large... The procession continues with full confidence, despite the whining of the dogs... This frothing at the mouth by people near and far should no doubt strengthen our belief that justice is with us, and that we should stand shoulder to shoulder beneath this heavy load and keep Jordan at the forefront... This country, beset by dangers and challenges on every side, will be victorious, with the help of Allah, and by virtue of the mutual collaboration of the best of its sons and the determination of its leaders to cope with every challenge. The challenges are numerous and difficult, and we must contend with them as one, [while rallying behind] the one who stands at the helm of this ship [i.e. King 'Abdallah]..."[35]

Al-Rai Columnist: A Blow To The King's Authority Will Be Detrimental To Jordanian Society

Under the headline "It Is the Hashemite [Royal House] that Saved Jordan from Perdition," Al-Rai columnist Ahmad Khalil Al-Qar'an wrote that restricting the king's authority would be a sore blow to the kingdom. He wrote: "A few absurd people, who hide behind the weapon of Facebook, demand the restriction of the king's political and constitutional powers, although they understand that a blow to [either of] these will transform the king into a mere figurehead who does not [actually] rule the country, as in the British or Dutch [constitutional monarchy] system, and will lead Jordan into a dark tunnel and to places whose darkness will influence the entire society on the social, security and political levels... I suggest that that you [Jordanians] distance yourselves from [calls to limit] the king's authority, for there are those who make such calls disguised as glittering slogans and pretty reforms which would have us imitate others..."[36]

Al-Rai Article: "Plotters Of Huge Schemes" Are Attempting To Destabilize The Kingdom

In response to the wave of rumors about the king, Jordanian journalist Ahmad Salameh published a wide-ranging article in the Al-Rai government daily on August 1, 2018, most of which appeared on the front page under the headline: "Why Do You Ask 'Where is the King?'", in which he railed against the "insolent" people who are attempting to destabilize the kingdom and at the silence with which they are met by Jordanians. He warned that this may seal Jordan's fate, as was the case with the countries that collapsed in the Arab Spring. Addressing the citizens of Jordan, he wrote: "If the erosion, the scheming, and the [attempts] to hijack your will continue, perpetrated by the yammering gang of alarmists and plotters of huge schemes, and your voices will [continue to] be expropriated by a thousand people who have traded the entire homeland for rumors,  unjustified audacity and an attempt to transform the Jordanian homeland into a wall of lies – [and if] your silence and lack of deterrence toward them continue, then the future will be difficult for everyone.

"This pretentious gang, which deceives itself that it represents you, or [perhaps really] sees itself that way, has spent the last 20 days asking 'Where is the king?'… They went on to question the authority of the king and [to claim that there is] a clash between his role and [the roles of] others in government… The ground beneath us is shaking with strife and wild rumors… Those who propagated them thought that if they unite around the question 'Where is the king?' they will deceive the Jordanians and achieve what they desire, [namely] to cast doubt on the leader of the homeland so as to eventually topple it, heaven forfend…

"People, the time has come for you to rise up as one to silence these insolent [voices] and halt the train of lies, for harming [our] important leader [the king] means realizing a huge scheme. [Former Egyptian president] Hosni Mubarak didn't leave his position in Egypt due to weakness or fatigue… Silence, neutrality, intimidation, and [the] erosion [of the status of] the leader were the factors that brought Egypt to the world of the unknown [i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood rule], and if the army hadn't restored [order], Egypt would have become a copy of Libya, Iraq and Syria."[37]


Cartoon in government daily warns: The "Arab Spring" gave rise to "terrorism" (Al-Rai, Jordan, October 25, 2018)

Former Minister: "Since When Do We Address The King In Such A Manner?!"

In an article he published on July 31, during the king's long absence, Muhammad Daoudia, chairman of the editorial board of the Al-Dustour daily and a former minister and MP, rebuked Jordanians for even asking "Where is the king?". He claimed that the king was allowing himself a holiday because he had full confidence in the state institutions and in his Jordanian subjects. If the king felt Jordan was in danger, he would have returned right away, Daoudia said.

He wrote: "King 'Abdallah has left us for a work and recreational visit, and along comes someone who deviates from our norms of addressing royalty and poses the almost unacceptable question to the king: 'Where are you?!' Since when do we address the king in such a manner?! We don't do this even if our motives are noble, patriotic, or [the question is] prompted by worry, love or burning pain...

"The king is taking a break, dividing his time between vacationing and holding international and internal meetings, since he has absolute confidence in all the state institutions and more importantly in the [Jordanian] citizen, who doesn't heed biased rumors... The Jordanian citizen loves his king... The country is mired in poverty, but it is not in danger. If it were in danger, its Hashemite king would not abandon it, but would return without delay.[38]

* Z. Harel is a research fellow at MEMRI.

 

[2] Raialyoum.com, December 1, 7, 2018; Facebook.com/HerakDhiban, December 7, 2018.

[4] Allofjo.net, October 8, 2018; facebook.com/ 44783759907411, October 18, 2018.

[5] Constitutional amendments passed in 2014 granted the king exclusive authority to appoint the commanders of the armed forces and intelligence apparatuses, and additional amendments in 2016 expanded these powers to include the appointment of other position-holders. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1252, In Jordan, Criticism And Protests Following Constitutional Amendments Expanding King's Powers, May 30, 2016.

[6] Arabi21.com, October 8, 2018; facebook.com/ 44783759907411, October 18, 2018.

[7] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), October 21, 2018.

[8] See e.g., al-taleanews.com, October 7, 2018; allofjo.net, October 8, 2018.

[9] Albosala.com, assabeel.net, October 20, 2018.

[10] Facebook.com/447837599074116, October 18, 2018; facebook.com/milkelali444, facebook.com/hindalfayezMP, October 7, 2018.

[11] Facebook.com/awni.alfayez, June 2, 2018.

[12] Facebook.com/AhrarAlasmtman, June 24, 2018.

[13] Facebook.com/tareq.ragheb, August 25, 2018; Al-'Arabi Al-Jadid (London), August 26, 2018.

[14] Petra.gov.jo, June 21, 2018; Al-Ghad (Jordan), June 26, 27, 2018, July 10, 2018.

[15] YouTube channel of Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi, August 1, 2018.

[16] Al-Rai (Jordan), July 10, 2018.

[17] Sawaleif.com, July 12, 2018. It should be noted that the Constitution of Jordan exempts the king from accountability of any kind.

[18] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1252, In Jordan, Criticism And Protests Following Constitutional Amendments Expanding King's Powers, May 30, 2016; sawaleif.com, July 17, 2018.

[19] Al-Rai (Jordan), July 19, 2018.

[20] Facebook.com/HerakDhiban, July 20, 2018.

[21] Amonnews.net, September 12, 2018.

[22] Twitter.com/QueenRania, September 14, 2018.

[23] See queenrania.jo/en/initiatives/queen-rania-foundation-education-and-development.

[24] Facebook.com/drhussamabdullat, November 30, 2018.

[25] Al-Sabil (Jordan), December 2, 2018.

[26] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 771, The Arab Spring in Jordan: King Compelled to Make Concessions to Protest Movement, December 12, 2011.

[27] Rumors on social media and local Jordanian websites state that Queen Rania had been involved in determining the makeup of the Al-Razzaz government and of previous governments. See e.g., alsaa.net, June 10, 2018. 

[29] Watananews.net, July 18, 2018.

[30] Al-Ghad (Jordan), August 6, 2018.

[31] Al-Ghad (Jordan), August 19, 2018.

[32] Al-Rai (Jordan), August 8, 2018.

[33] Al-Ghad (Jordan), October 15, 2018.

[34] Ammonnews.net, October 20, 2018.

[35] Al-Rai (Jordan), October 9, 2018.

[36] Al-Rai (Jordan), July 23, 2018.

[37] Al-Rai (Jordan), August 1, 2018.

[38] Al-Dustour (Jordan), July 31, 2018.