King Abdullah II of Jordan has had every reason to be pleased with himself lately. Following the January inauguration of President Donald Trump, he was the first Arab leader invited to Washington to meet with the new administration. The visit was hailed a success by all involved—not only in terms of U.S.-Jordan relations, but also as an opportunity for the king to caution Trump against moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The visit, however, was only a temporary distraction from the ongoing security and political crisis that has been unfolding in Jordan for the last year. Jordan has witnessed a rising number of homegrown terrorist attacks and security incidents. Additionally, the king’s apparent inability or unwillingness to institute substantive socio-economic reform, end corruption, and increase citizens’ rights has led to spiraling protests.
“STOP MESSING WITH THE COUNTRY’S FUTURE!”
Jordan’s leaders frequently invoke the stability of their country and the relative quiescence of their citizens in appeals for increased international support. Compared to Jordan’s neighbors, this may be the case—but everything is relative. A growing movement of homegrown and widespread protest has shaken the certainties of loyalty that King Abdullah II could once rely on. These protests, once confined to restive Palestinian-Jordanian citizens, is now apparent in the heartlands of Jordan’s southern region, where tribal loyalties remain strong.