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Posts tagged ‘Land of the Arab Revival’

Jordan MPs demand closure of Israeli embassy

August 3, 2017

Some 78 Jordanian members of parliament have signed a motion demanding the closure of the Israeli embassy in Amman following an Israeli shooting that left two Jordanians dead last month.

The motion, submitted on Tuesday, also demanded that the Jordanian ambassador leave Israel immediately in order “to express rejection of the Jordanian government’s handling of the issue and returning the killer to Israel”, according to Ma’an news agency.

“Jordanian blood and Jordanians’ dignity are not cheap and the government was supposed to stand for the right of the blood that was shed and maintain their dignity strongly and firmly,” the motion read.

Read: Jordan should stop bowing to Israel

Deputy Khalid Ramadan Awada added that further action would be taken if the government did not respond to their demands.

The petition comes a week after hundreds of people protested outside the Israeli embassy in Amman calling for the cancellation of Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel known as “Wadi Araba”.

Tensions have been high since the Jordanian government returned the shooter to Tel Aviv, followed by the release of images of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming the soldier. Jordan’s King Abdullah has since demanded that the guard be tried for murder.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170803-jordan-mps-demand-closure-of-israeli-embassy/.

Jordanian parliament repeals ‘marry the rapist’ clause

August 01, 2017

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The lower house of Jordan’s parliament on Tuesday scrapped a provision in the kingdom’s penal code that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if he married his victim. Cheers erupted from the spectators’ gallery as legislators narrowly voted for repeal, following an emotional debate.

The vote was hailed as a major step forward for women in the conservative kingdom. “This is a victory for the women’s movement and human rights movement in Jordan,” said Salma Nims, the secretary general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women.

Despite the country’s pro-Western political orientation and cosmopolitan urban elites, many areas of Jordan remain socially conservative, with entrenched notions of “family honor.” This includes the belief that having a rape victim in the family is shameful, and that such “shame” can be expunged through marriage.

In Tuesday’s debate, some lawmakers had argued that an amended version of Article 308 was needed to protect rape victims against social stigma by giving them the marriage option. In the end, lawmakers voted in line with the recommendations of the government and a royal committee on legal reforms.

Moussa Maaytah, the Cabinet minister for parliamentary affairs, said that Tuesday’s “progressive decision” capped years of debate in the Jordanian society. The decision must still be approved by parliament’s appointed upper house, or Senate, and by King Abdullah II. After the expected final approval, Jordan would join Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt which have canceled their “marry the rapist” clauses over the years.

The international rights group Human Rights Watch said Lebanon’s parliament is also considering repealing such a provision. The clause remains on the books in several other countries in the Middle East and Latin America, as well as in the Philippines and Tajikistan, HRW said.

In a statement issued before Tuesday’s vote, the New York-based watchdog said that scrapping Article 308 “would be a positive step to strengthen the rule of law and end impunity for violence against women.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, several dozen activists rallied outside the parliament in Amman, the Jordanian capital, calling for repeal. They held up banners reading “Article 308 is a disgrace to the Jordanian justice system” and “Article 308 does not protect honor, it protects the culprit.”

Nims said before the vote that many of the lawmakers had been undecided. She said some saw the provision as a form of “protection” for women who can demand marriage rather than suffer further social stigma for having been raped.

The need for such “protection” indicates a fundamental problem in how Jordanian law and society perceive women, said Eva Abu Halaweh, executive manager of Mizan for Law, a human rights group. “The law still looks at women as bodies, linked with ‘honor,'” Abu Halaweh said.

Earlier this week, parliament took another step toward legal reform, closing a legal loophole that had given courts the discretion to impose sentences of as little as six months on those who killed female relatives in the name of “family honor.”

Under the new amendment, killing “in a fit of rage” can no longer be considered a mitigating circumstance in such cases.

Associated Press writer Reem Saad in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.

Jordan plunges into economic crisis following Qatar blockade

June 14, 2017

Jordan’s economy has incurred losses worth $2 million since a closure of the Saudi land borders last week against the Jordanian exports heading to Qatar as a result of the Gulf diplomatic rift.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and began an economic blockade against the Gulf state. Jordan later joined the move by announcing a reduction in diplomatic representation with Qatar.

According to sources at Jordan’s Exporters and Producers Association for Fruits and Vegetables, Jordanian traders who have previously signed exporting contracts with Qatar, started exporting their products by air.

Jordanian shipments’ volume to the Gulf state has also dropped to 90 tons per day, down from 600 tons per day before the blockade.

According to Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia has prevented the entry of 85 Jordanian trucks loaded with vegetables and fruits, and over 10 trucks which were loaded with livestock heading to Qatar, following the rift.

Qatar has begun pursuing alternative routes and agreeing on new deals with other countries to counter the blockade imposed by most of its neighboring Arab states. Turkey was ready to help resolve the dispute, according to the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, while Iranian officials have offered to send food to Qatar by sea.

Moreover the Danish company, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, which owns the world’s biggest container line, has worked to bypass the transport ban imposed on Qatar by using alternative routes. Last Friday, it announced that it would begin container shipments to Qatar via Oman, avoiding trade restrictions imposed on the Gulf state by Arab countries.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170614-jordan-plunges-into-economic-crisis-following-qatar-blockade/.

Germany considering Jordan, Cyprus for anti-IS base

May 17, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s defense minister says her office has drafted a list of eight locations where it could move aircraft supporting the anti-IS mission if Turkey continues to block German lawmakers from visiting troops at the Incirlik base.

Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday a team is already in Jordan to assess a site there for its Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling plane, and Cyprus is also being considered. Nonetheless, she stressed talks with Turkey were still ongoing.

Germany has granted asylum to some soldiers Turkey believes were involved in a failed coup attempt last summer. That has prompted Turkey to block a request for German lawmakers to visit some 270 troops serving with the coalition against the Islamic State group at the Incirlik air base.

Britain to offer Jordan more trainers in anti-IS strikes

April 03, 2017

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May has begun a visit to Jordan where she is to announce plans to send more British military trainers to help the kingdom’s air force in the fight against Islamic State group extremists.

Jordan’s royal court said Monday that May and Jordan’s King Abdullah II toured a military facility, inspecting a rapid response force and a joint training program. May is on a three-day visit to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

In Jordan, she is to present a package of measures to boost cooperation between British forces and Jordan’s air force. Jordan has carried out air strikes against IS targets as part of a U.S.-led military coalition against IS. IS controls parts of neighboring Syria and Iraq.

The training is to take place in Jordan and Britain.

Is Jordan signalling a shift in its Syria strategy?

2017-02-27

Jordan’s position towards the Syrian civil war has often appeared unclear: It supports moderate rebel groups from the Syrian Free Army (FSA) yet there is no great display of animosity between Amman and Da­mascus.

The Syrian regime has refrained from painting Jordan with the same damning brush as it does Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In turn, the Jordanians have not been as vocal in the call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, as some of their allies have.

Some analysts said Jordan has been maintaining a balancing act: accommodating the position of its US and Gulf financiers without adopting an anti-Assad stance wholeheartedly.

There are many tribal relations between Jordanians and Syrians and King Abdullah II cannot afford to appear to be totally indifferent to the death and suffering of civilians at the hands of pro-Assad forces.

There are more than 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Observers, however, pointed to a recent change in Jordan’s policy towards the Syrian conflict that appears to focus on the increasing threat of terror from Islamic State (ISIS) militants and other groups.

“Analysts say that these developments pushed Jordan out of its so-called grey zone and disengage from the Gulf position towards the Syrian issue,” wrote Khalil Qandil in the Jordanian website Assabeel.net.

Jordanian political analyst Amer al-Sabaylah said Jordan was preparing to protect its borders from threats of terror and was looking at Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria as an example.

“Jordan’s priority in fighting terror requires finding a partner in the Syrian south to replicate the Turkish intervention in Syria but without a direct Jordanian involvement,” Sabaylah told Assabeel.net.

His views were shared by other Jordanian analysts.

“Unlike Turkey, Jordan cannot afford nor does it want to carry out a military incursion into southern Syria, a region that is vital to its national security,” wrote Amman-based commentator Osama al-Sha­rif in the Jordan Times.

“Instead, it is building a coalition of moderate rebel groups and local tribal fighters to fend off possible advance by Daesh,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “It is also carrying out preemptive aerial strikes against Daesh positions in southern Syria.”

Jordanian political science Professor Hassan al-Khalidi told the website 24.ae that Amman was primarily concerned with its own security.

“The Jordanian maneuvers in the Syrian issue are primarily aimed at protecting (Jordan’s) northern borders in the event that they are flooded with the remnants of terrorist groups fleeing areas under pressure in Syria and Iraq.”

Brigadier-General Sami Kafawin, the commander of Jordan’s border guards, told the Associated Press that ISIS was expanding its influence in a makeshift border camp that hosts tens of thousands of displaced Syrians.

Jordan also appears to fear that the FSA faction it backs in Southern Syria would be weakened by the resumed Russian air strikes against moderate rebels in Deraa, which would allow ISIS and other radical groups to flourish on its borders.

As a result of new clashes between FSA rebels and the regime, two projectiles reportedly fell on the Jordan side of the border, slightly wounding one person.

Diplomatically, at the invitation of Russia, Jordan attended as a monitor the latest round of talks between the Syrian regime and rebels in Astana. It was also invited to be present during the Geneva talks on February 23rd.

King Abdullah II had also met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a staunch supporter of Assad, to discuss the Syrian crisis.

The pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper Addiyar reported that top intelligence official Ali Mam­louk recently met with the Jordanian king in Amman to “coordinate together against terror”.

Many Syrians have looked with suspicion towards what they say is a friendly relationship between As­sad and Amman, despite Jordan’s backing of the FSA.

They say that King Abdullah’s support of Syrian moderate rebels has always been in Jordan’s favour — to counter radical groups — and that Amman is now being more open about it, dismissing the suggestion that there is a shift in strategy.

The Syrians are not alone in thinking that. Jordanian analyst Fahad al-Khitan said that Jordan’s priority for a long time has been to secure its border areas from the threat of militant groups such as ISIS. “Noth­ing changed in that strategy,” he wrote in the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad.

Jordan will be hosting the next Arab League annual meeting on March 29th but, as was the case in previous summits, Assad will not be invited since the bloc suspended Syria’s membership in 2011.

“How the invitations are dealt with will be based on the decisions of the Arab League, and we will abide by what it has decided,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Sa­fadi said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for the Syrian government to be permitted to re­join the bloc but Jordan is unable to fulfil Moscow’s request, even if it wanted to.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=81722.

Jordan’s troubled relationship with its mosques

2017-02-13

Jordan appears to be tightening its grip on religious messages coming out of its mosques but it may be offering its preachers more sticks than carrots.

Jordanian chief justice Ahmad Hilayel resigned two days after delivering a Friday sermon during which he rebuked Gulf states for not stepping up their financial aid to Jordan.

“As an imam of this country and one of its scholars, I am addressing the Gulf’s leaders, kings, emirs, sheikhs and wise men,” he said in a sermon broadcast live on Jordanian state television January 20th from Amman’s King Hussein mosque.

“The (financial) situation has reached a tipping point (in Jor­dan)… so where is your help, where is your money and where are your riches?”

Hilayel said the Jordanian state could collapse if people were to take to the streets, warning that would lead to chaos and destruction as in Syria, Iraq and Libya. “Would you like to see such a scenario (happen in Jordan)?” he asked.

Many criticized Hilayel for embarrassing the government in front of its financial backers in the Gulf and some took issue with his use of the Friday sermon to deliver a political message. Musa al-Odwan, a retired army general and writer, told Al Jazeera that Hilayel had “no business talking politics” as he is a religious judge.

It is thought that Hilayel agreed to resign to save face rather than being fired.

Jordan’s Religious Affairs Ministry on January 10th said it had dismissed 15 mosque preachers and disciplined seven others for refusing to take part in nationwide memorial prayers for Jordanian troops killed in clashes with gunmen who had attacked a tourist site in Karak province.

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed the December 18th attack in which 11 members of the security forces and three civilians, including a Canadian tourist, were killed. The kingdom has been hit by number of ISIS attacks in the past year.

Observers said Jordan may be changing course from its policy of trying to contain hard-line preachers towards a more confrontational approach.

“In the past, the authorities opted for negotiation. Two years ago they released two leading jihadists, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada al-Filastini, in an attempt to co-opt their followers into their own war on Islamic State,” the Economist wrote in September 2016.

“More recently, though, they have gone for round-ups. Hundreds of cells have been broken up. And so far this year 1,100 Jordanians have been hauled before military courts on terrorism charges,” it added.

However, the government would still have to rely on cooperative preachers to do its bidding in reli­gious circles.

One preacher, Ali al-Halabi, issued a religious edict saying that Jordanians must not pray for the souls or attend the funerals of the “terrorists” killed by the army in Karak. Halabi insisted they would still be regarded as Muslims but added that the militants cannot have ordinary burials and the public must always be reminded of their “deviant creeds”.

The government has installed closed-circuit cameras in a number of mosques, although the vast majority of them are not electronically monitored. Local informants attending prayers are reportedly the most common way for the government to keep an eye on places of worship.

Local media reported that the government promised to award bonuses to state-appointed mosque preachers who are “distinguished in their work”. The proposal includes studying the preachers’ sermons as part of the evaluation process.

The Prime Ministry’s coordinator for human rights, Basil al- Tarawneh, said the Religious Affairs Ministry was carrying out recommendations from the Na­tional Center for Human Rights. The recommendations include familiarizing mosque preachers with matters of human rights and “combating extremist thought”, the offi­cial Petra news agency said.

A similar initiative is reportedly being coordinated with the Ministry of Social Development to make mosque preachers more aware of women’s rights.

However, in improvised areas such as Zarqa governorate, where the spread of radicalization is more likely, officials are warning that the housing accommodations for mosque imams are “not suitable for habitation”.

Many of the accommodations are damp and have no access to sunlight as they are built under the mosques, Youssef al-Shalabi, the head of the religious endowment department in Zarqa, said in late January.

Some of the residents are exposed to flooding from nearby mosque toilets, creating a smell that was making some preachers ill.

A government report released last October stated that many of the imams’ children have asthma and other illnesses due to poor housing conditions.

One imam told the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad that he lives with his wife and five children in a 90-sq.-metre residence.

Accommodation is not provided to all imams. Most cannot afford to live elsewhere as they are required to be in the mosque from early hours of the day until late at night due to the timing of prayers.

Such living conditions may put additional strain on the relationship between the state and the imams it employs.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=81413.

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