The Palestinian Question in Jordanian Politics
The Palestinian Question in Jordanian Politics
Tuesday, December 2,2008 02:49
By Shadi Hamid

Last month, I wrote on the apparent rapprochement between three key Jordanian actors, the Islamic Action Front (the largest opposition party), the regime, as well as Hamas, which continues to wield substantial influence within the kingdom, both directly and indirectly.

The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, is devoting much of its attention to the "Palestinian portfolio," perhaps more of a priority now with Hamam Said leading the Brotherhood after his surprise May election to the post of Overseer-General (Said is the first Jordanian of Palestinian origin to ever head the Jordanian Brotherhood). In a country that is nearly 60% Palestinian, the IAF is hoping to capitalize on Jordanian anger over the situation in Gaza. The government appears to be encouraging them. Anything that can detract from demands for political reform is high on the government"s priority list. In less than two weeks, the IAF has held three protests, all approved by the regime.

Before July, this would have been unheard of, as the government had, for nearly three years, done nearly all it could to restrict, repress, and marginalize the opposition. To my knowledge, this is the first time in recent memory that three consecutive IAF protests have been permitted to go forward. The Jordanian government, one of our closest allies in the region, is playing a difficult balancing act, between different domestic and foreign poles of influence (the Muslim Brotherhood, the U.S., Israel, Iran, Hamas, and increasingly Russia).