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Friday, February 18, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Jordan's king gets warning letter from leaders
of his own Bedouin base

AMMAN — Tensions continue to rise between Jordan and its Islamist opposition.


King Abdullah was said to have been alarmed by unrest within his traditional Bedouin tribal base. A letter signed by 36 tribal leaders urged the king to end corruption and anti-democratic measures in Jordan, Middle East Newsline reported.

"It [Jordan] will sooner or later face the flood of Tunisia and Egypt because of the suppression of freedoms and looting of public funds," the letter warned.

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The opposition Islamic Action Front has been leading demonstrations against Jordan's new government. IAF has rejected an offer to join the government of Prime Minister Marruf Bakhit.

"Under the circumstances, any participation in this government is out of the question," IAF chairman Hamzah Mansour said.

The opposition campaign has called for the election of Jordan's prime minister, now appointed by King Abdullah. Over the last two weeks, the party, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, organized tens of thousands of people to call for economic and political reforms.

In November, IAF boycotted parliamentary elections amid charges that the government redrew electoral districts meant to marginalize the Islamists. Hamzah said his party has demanded early elections that would undo the redistricting.

The opposition campaign has sparked pledges by Abdullah for sweeping reforms. Unlike Egypt, the Islamist protests have not resulted in violence.

A leading Islamist politician, Leith Shubeilat, issued a letter that warned of an opposition campaign that could target King Abdullah. Shubeilat, a former parliamentarian, said the street protests could quickly become bloody.

"I realize that I reached the end of the road, which may lead to my assassination," Shubeilat, whose letter was withdrawn after two hours, said.

The kingdom was also said to be threatened by growing unrest among the Palestinian majority. On Feb. 8, parliament's deputy speaker, Atef Tarawneh, warned against Amman's decision to revoke the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians who live abroad. At the same time, Tarawneh said, Jordan was providing citizenship to Palestinian Authority leaders, including chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons.


According to Freedom House, Jordan has been downgraded from Partly Free to Not Free. Jordan is one of five countries that had their status downgraded to "not free" in Freedom House's 2010 global report.

luc      2:48 p.m. / Saturday, February 19, 2011

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