Analysis: Jordan's king pinched by absence of Gulf aid

Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:19am EST
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By Alistair Lyon

LONDON (Reuters) - With protesters baying for his overthrow, Jordan's King Abdullah might be wondering why his fellow-dynasts in Gulf Arab states are not providing the cash that could calm the trouble.

After days of demonstrations against fuel price rises in provincial towns, Muslim Brotherhood supporters joined crowds in Amman on Friday in a rare focus of anger on the king.

"The people want the downfall of the regime", about 3,000 people chanted, in an ominous signal to a U.S.-backed monarchy accustomed to juggling internal rifts between its tribal East Bank and Palestinian citizens, as well as rivalries among its stronger neighbors Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Exposed to the bloody upheaval in Syria, dependent on Iraq for its oil supplies and on Saudi Arabia for funds, Jordan, with its majority Palestinian population, is also sensitive to actions by Israel, which is now bombing Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Instability in Jordan, one of only two Arab countries to sign a peace treaty with Israel, would be alarming for its Western patrons and its conservative Gulf Arab allies.

"Gulf countries must be very worried about any signs of the collapse of the Jordanian monarchy, which would be the first one to fall in the Arab Spring context," said Valerie Yorke, a London-based expert on Jordan.

The kingdom has long relied on Western support and intermittent dollops of Gulf financial aid to survive.

But Saudi Arabia, Amman's main donor, is not known to have provided money since a $1.4 billion infusion in late 2011 to stave off a previous dire economic crisis in the kingdom.   Continued...

Riot policemen stand guard as protesters from the Islamic Action Front and other opposition parties demonstrate following an announcement that Jordan would raise fuel prices, including a hike on cooking gas, after Friday prayers in Amman November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed