Sunday, December 17, 2006

Jordan coup averted?

A friend has just returned from a visit to the Middle East having heard a rumour from several sources that King Abdullah of Jordan has averted a coup. Apparently he has made a one-off payment to civil servants and the army in an effort to head off dissatisfaction.

Up until now Jordan has enjoyed the reputation (helped by an impressive security apparatus) of being one of the region's most stable regimes. Interestingly though, it seemed to me when I visited Amman late in 2004, that the new king probably did not enjoy the support that his father did. Throughout the capital were banners depicting a smiling Abdullah together with his equally cheery late father Hussein. Their message seemed to be "You liked me - now like my son".

However, like many other countries, Jordan has been destabilised by an influx of Palestinian refugees. Moreover, both Jordan and neighbouring Syria are having to cope with large numbers of refugees who had fled Iraq. If the rumours of the coup are true, they may help explain the tone of Abdullah's recent warning of civil war in the region. Whatever, the pressures of migration forced by the civil war in Iraq are likely to test the foundations of the states to the west, possibly to destruction.

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