Posts Tagged ‘ King Abdullah II of Jordan ’

Jordan’s Abdullah II receives peace prize in Germany

October 08, 2016

BERLIN (AP) — Jordan’s King Abdullah II has been awarded a prestigious prize in Germany for his peace efforts in the Middle East. At the award ceremony Saturday for the Westphalian Peace Prize in Muenster’s town hall, German President Joachim Gauck said Abdullah and his fellow Jordanians had “set standards for humanity” for their work in the region’s refugee crisis.

Jordan, with a population of about 6.5 million, is hosting about 635,000 refugees from neighboring war-torn Syria. The annual prize commemorates the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia, a series of treaties concluded and announced in Muenster town hall in 1648 that ended the Thirty Years’ War and other conflicts.

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Jordanian King arrives in Bahrain

21 December 2014 Sunday

King Abdullah II of Jordan on Saturday arrived in the Bahraini capital Manama for talks with the Gulf state’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

King Abdullah’s visit to Bahrain comes only one week after he paid a visit to Saudi Arabia where he met with King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz.

At Bahrain International Airport, the Jordanian King was received by King Al Khalifa, the official Bahraini news agency said.

It added that the two leaders held “cordial talks” later about cooperation between their respective states.

Earlier in the day, Jordan’s official news agency said the King would head to Bahrain for talks with King Hamad on means of bolstering bilateral ties.

The Jordanian King’s visit to Saudi Arabia last week came only three days after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi paid a visit to Amman and held talks with King Abdullah II.

Talks between the Egyptian President and the Jordanian monarch reportedly focused on the Middle East peace process and the situation in both Syria and Iraq.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/151306/jordanian-king-arrives-in-bahrain.

Jordan’s king pushes to expand military, intelligence authority

Osama Al Sharif

August 25, 2014

On Aug. 14, the Jordanian government announced that it would ask parliament to approve two constitutional amendments giving the king sole authority to appoint the head of the armed forces and director of the kingdom’s General Intelligence Department (GID). Almost three years ago, in October 2011, in response to public protests calling for political reforms, King Abdullah II had approved a number of constitutional amendments that curtailed some of his powers and allowed for the creation of a Constitutional Court and an Independent Elections Commission.

These reforms were hailed as a major step toward full constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s version of the Arab Spring was largely peaceful and bloodless, and Abdullah was able to project himself as a champion of political reforms that would lead, according to statements made in June 2011, to the formation of parliamentary governments. That promise remains to be fulfilled.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front (IAF) boycotted the 2013 legislative elections, and other political parties performed poorly, failing to fill the vacuum. Weak and unpopular, the parties’ presence in the current Lower House, comprised mostly of independents, is modest. The government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, appointed by Abdullah in October 2012, was supposed to include elected deputies as a precursor to the formation of parliamentary governments. To date, however, Ensour has failed to fulfill that pledge, probably due to royal objections.

It is clear that Abdullah instructed Ensour to handle the two constitutional amendments. Under the current constitution, the government recommends the appointees for head of the armed forces and GID director, and the king approves them through royal decree. The king had asked the prime minister on Aug. 12 to “activate” the Ministry of Defense, whose portfolio has been handled directly by the prime minister for decades. In effect, the portfolio will now be managed by a civilian or a retired army officer. The king said the new ministry will handle “political, economic, legal and logistical duties related to national defense … and nonmilitary services … while allowing the armed forces to dedicate its time to professional military duties.”

The government is rushing the two amendments through parliament, which has been convened in an extraordinary session. The timing and reasons for the amendments, described by Ensour as important reforms that will enhance Jordan’s democratic process, were not made clear. Pundits rushed to explain the surprise move. Clearly Abdullah is looking to expand his authority, making sure that the decision to appoint and fire the heads of two very sensitive institutions remains his alone.

Critics of the move did not waste time making their points. In general, they saw the move as a violation of the constitution and a derogation of the general mandate of the government. A number of retired army officers issued a statement denouncing the action, describing it as “an attack on the constitution and a challenge to the will of the people, who are the source of all authorities.”

Mohammad al-Hammouri, a respected constitutional expert and former justice minister, wrote on Aug. 19, “Giving the king exclusive powers to appoint the heads of the armed forces and GID constitutes an abrogation of the parliamentary system and a coup against the constitution, effectively turning Jordan from a constitutional monarchy to a presidential monarchy.”

He added that the Jordanian system of government is based on the principle of separation of powers, with the people being the source of authority. He added that the only exclusive power that the king has is to prevent amendment of the constitution, while the authority to run the state’s domestic and foreign affairs is tied directly to the Council of Ministers.

Omar al-Atout, a lawyer, published an article on Aug. 14 accusing the government of “committing the crime of undermining the regime.” He wrote that the amendments aim at “implicating the monarchy by making the king directly responsible for any mistakes committed by the security institutions … and by demoting the king from being a judge over all branches of government to a mere player.” He accused “frivolous boys” at the royal court of standing behind such ideas while reminding the prime minister that the first article in the constitution defines Jordan’s system of government as a parliamentary monarchy.

Despite such strong legal objections, it is clear that the royal court is seeking to secure strategic objectives in pushing the amendments. Mohammad Abu Rumman, a political commentator, provided one possible explanation when he wrote in the daily Al-Ghad on Aug. 14 that the royal move aims at “redefining the role of the monarchy in Jordan” and that the king is pushing toward the formation of parliamentary governments “but not until he secures some guarantees … by withdrawing sovereign key decisions from governments and placing them in his hands to protect the country’s security and to prevent key positions from being influenced by political wrangling.” He also said that the suggested amendments will “clash head on with the philosophy of the system of governance and the spirit of the constitution, where the king enjoys full immunity from direct responsibility.”

Abu Rumman’s explanation echoes that of others who believe the king is about to engage Jordanians in a new political experiment through parliamentary government. The legislature is yet to pass a new political parties’ law, and the government has promised to make substantial changes to the controversial election law next year.

Despite vocal opposition from a number of deputies, the lower house of parliament is likely to approve the two amendments in a special session as early as this week. Deputy Tamer Bino told Al-Monitor the amendments “affect the identity of the political system in Jordan,” reminding colleagues that former GID directors had been convicted of corruption in the past and sentenced to jail. He said, “If this happens again, then who will bear the final responsibility?”

Minister of Political Affairs Khaled al-Kalaldeh told Al-Monitor that both the chief of the General Staff of the armed forces and GID director will be under the oversight of both the executive and legislative branches, regardless of the proposed amendments. Deputy Jamil al-Nimri said that the amendments were “unnecessary and based on unrealistic fears,” arguing, “The general mandate of the government could have been saved by maintaining the current system of appointment.” He told Al-Monitor that Jordan should get ready for full parliamentary government and even party-led governments in the future.

It is clear that the controversial amendments will be approved and that the king’s powers will be increased in contrast to the reformist course adopted during the height of the Arab Spring. Apologists say this will pave the way for the creation of full parliamentary governments in the near future, but how this will affect the evolution of Jordan’s monarchy remains an open question.

Source: al-Monitor.

Link: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/jordan-king-constitution-amendments.html.

Jordan’s king swears in 13 new Cabinet ministers

August 21, 2013

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The royal palace says Jordan’s King Abdullah II has sworn in 13 new Cabinet ministers, enlarging the government as part of promised reforms.

The long expected reshuffle is the first since Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour took office on March 30 following parliamentary elections hailed as the centerpiece of palace-led reforms.

Wednesday’s change excluded major posts, including foreign affairs, interior and finance.

It brought in two women, raising their number to three.

The palace said multiple portfolios held by serving ministers were divided among the newcomers.

The Cabinet now has 27 ministers, including Ensour, who also serves as defense minister.

Abdullah’s reforms come amid the violent upheavals brought by the Arab Spring, which toppled four longtime leaders.

The Jordanian reforms also allowed for public assembly and dissent — previously outlawed acts.

Source: Boston.com.

Link: http://www.boston.com/news/world/middle-east/2013/08/21/jordan-king-swears-new-cabinet-ministers/OwPOKoGpHrt8T2s6VW3K1I/story.html.

Jordan King in Egypt: First visit by Arab leader since Morsi’s ouster

2013-07-20

After being among first leaders to congratulate Egyptians, King Abdullah II arrives in Cairo amid heightened political tensions.

CAIRO – Jordan’s King Abdullah II arrived in Cairo on Saturday, in the first visit by a head of state to Egypt since ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, state media reported.

The monarch had been among the first leaders to congratulate Egyptians after the army overthrew Morsi following mass protests calling for him to resign.

Abdullah, who faces challenges at home from Islamists, was met at the airport by military-backed interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, the official MENA news agency reported.

Both Jordan and Egypt have been key mediators between Israel and the Palestinians, which the United States says have agreed to lay the groundwork to resume peace negotiations.

Abdullah is likely to discuss the renewed talks with Egypt.

But his visit may also be aimed at conferring legitimacy on the new military-installed regime, which is fighting a public relations war abroad to burnish its credentials as a legitimate regime.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=60232.

Islamists and the Jordanian King at Loggerheads Over Elections

by Adam Nicky

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood set to boycott parliamentary elections

With just three days left ahead of Jordanian parliamentary elections, King Abdullah and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party the Islamic Action Front (IAC), who are boycotting the election, are on a collision course ahead of the vote.

After failing to attract the Islamist movement to run in the polls, which he promotes as fruit of the Arab Spring, King Abdullah this week appeared to have given up on the IAC. The pro-Western monarch accused them of seeking to establish a “religious dictatorship” and said he didn’t trust the Islamists.

“I am not worried about the Islamists winning in the elections. I am worried about pluralism and an exchange of power” that might result from such a victory, Abdullah said in a January 13 interview with the French magazine L’Observoire. He also expressed concern about how much change such a victory would bring to the country.

Meanwhile, the state-controlled media has been leading a smear campaign against the Islamist movement ahead of the polls.

Jordanian officials point out that the January 23 elections will lead to the creation of the country’s first parliamentary government. The king would name a prime minister to form a government that includes members of parliament, and retain the right to name and dismiss the prime minister.

Jordan elects its parliament every four years to choose 150 MPs in the lower house, while the king appoints the upper house with 50 senators forming the legislative authority. It remains unclear how many MPs would join the new government, but lists of candidates show former officials and businessmen leading the race in the absence of powerful opposition.

Wary of the possible negative effects of an Arab Spring in Jordan, Abdullah’s spokesmen argue that gradual reforms are safer in a country surrounded by major powers struggling for Mideast interests.

“The region is facing an uncertain future. We don’t know where Syria is heading and countries that saw change in the Arab Spring are suffering,” a senior government official told the Media Line.

“The king is determined to go ahead with his vision of reform. He has said that his son will not inherit the monarchy as he did,” the official added, referring to opposition demands that the king relinquish his constitutional powers that allow him to form governments.

Over the past two years, Abdullah endorsed amendments to the constitution, including that the king can sack the parliament only once in four years and the government must resign after parliamentary elections, and he established an independent electoral committee that promised fair and free elections.

The opposition accuses the king of procrastinating and exploiting the Syrian storm to block fundamental change.

It wants quick reforms including trimming the king’s powers, separation between authorities to shield judicial authority and the parliament from government interference, and a fair elections law.

“The so-called concessions, including the constitutional court, etc….[are] like a camel that gave birth to a mouse. We expected too much and got so little,” Kathem Ayash, a member of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council, the highest governing body of the group, told The Media Line.

“This is an arrogant attitude. The state says we give you this little and we have to be happy for it. We will not take part in this political process,” he added.

The Islamist movement said this week it plans to organize a major rally in downtown Amman against the elections, but vowed not to hold protests on election day, a sign it might not be acting as strongly as expected.

The highly publicized polls are expected to do little to defuse tension between maneuvering authorities and stubborn opposition, said political analyst and researcher Mohammed Imran.

“Jordan will remain in the same place as two years ago, when the Arab Spring started. The kingdom is headed to the unknown in such a situation,” argues Imran.

Islamist movement opponents say the group’s bark is bigger than its bite, accusing Shura Council President Abdul Latif Arabiyat, IAF party leader Hamza Mansour and other senior Islamists of failing to live up to their status as the biggest opposition party in the kingdom.

“Street protestations look more like a formality than a genuine expression of anger by the public. The Islamist movement has been treading so carefully that they are becoming powerless,” said Rami Rafeeq, a leader from the Jordan professional association.

Other opposition groups including some leftist parties have insignificant support.

Besides the planned election boycott, the Muslim Brotherhood has been enduring its own internal strife. Some party leaders say it supports peacefully achieving political rights and recently some said they are not seeking to overthrow the regime.

A melting pot for immigrants from around the region, Jordan has survived the bloody ripples of the Arab Spring that have occurred in other Arab countries.

King Abdullah takes his authority and powers from a general belief among the seven million inhabitants that the royal family is the safest option for a country built by refugees from what is today Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Chechnya and elsewhere seeking safety.

However, young opposition activists from Jordan University’s student council say they want better than their parents had, insisting the king must face the inevitable and change.

Copyright © 2013 The Media Line. All Rights Reserved.

King of Jordan Halts Fuel Price Increase

Written by Adam Nicky
Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Experts don’t see alternative fuel resources in the near future

AMMAN- King Abdullah II of Jordan has stepped in to stop the government from imposing an increase on gasoline prices, a move apparently aimed at easing growing public discontent over the government’s economic policy.

The king, who wields absolute power in accordance with the constitution, reacted one day after a 10 percent rise in fuel prices had been announced as part of a series of measures intended to trim the budget deficit and generate badly needed funds. The royal decree by the monarch, known for his pro-Western outlook, seemingly did the trick, absorbing at least some of the anger at the government’s fiscal policies visibly spreading among the poor and, according to some observers, even threatening the country’s stability.

When the price increase was announced, the government had explained the move as necessary to mitigate the impact on the budget. Following the cancellation of the fuel price hike, the king did not say what, if any, measures would be taken to compensate the treasury for the loss of funding the gas hike would have provided.

The move by Abdullah on Sunday came only hours after dozens of angry Members of Parliament vilified conservative Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh for raising fuel prices without consulting legislators. A motion of no confidence calling for Tarawneh’s dismissal was rejected on constitutional grounds.

Upon word of the intended increase in the cost of gas, economists had accused the government of turning a blind eye to the concerns of the country’s industrial sector which feared it would be harmed by a continued increase in production costs. Abdel Razaq Tabour, a member of the Zarqa Chamber of Industry, said the government took the decision without consulting the business sector and expressed concern over the future of laborers in the industrial sector.

“Industries have been suffering for the past years due to limited markets and high competition. With this frequent change in fuel prices, I am not sure how long we can continue,” Tabour told The Media Line. He said thousands of workers could lose their jobs and warned about growing social unrest in poverty stricken areas where unemployment is believed to be more than 15 per cent. Earlier Sunday, the streets of west Amman turned yellow after hundreds of taxi drivers staged a strike in busy parts of the capital to protest against the fuel increase.

“They are robbing us in broad daylight,” shouted one cab taxi driver referring to government reliance on taxation as a response to the shortage of cash. “Tomorrow, the prime minister will be fired after he puts in place the new increase. They are playing musical chairs games with us. One prime minister comes to increase prices, and another replaces him to absorb anger of the public,” said Zaidoun Abul Haq, an activist from the taxi drivers union.

Jordan is one of the poorest countries in the region in terms of oil and energy resources, with most of its needs imported from neighboring countries. Saudi Arabia supplies most of the country’s fuel needs at a comparably lower price – with discounts as large as 20% according to economists — compared to the international market, while Egypt pumps gas from the Sinai desert.

Officials have been concerned that the cash-strapped kingdom of Jordan remains hostage to its political relationships with its larger neighbors, preventing it from finding energy from local resources while the government is accused of overpricing necessities such as fuel.

But despite the kingdom’s discounted gas prices, experts and economists still accuse the government of overcharging citizens when compared to what other nations pay. A senior official from Royal Jordanian Airlines says the company buys airplane fuel in more than 60 cities around the world, and of those, prices in Jordan rank highest. Speaking to The Media Line on the condition of anonymity, the source said he expects the national flag-carrier will continue to suffer in a highly competitive market. Just recently, the company was forced to shut down some of its operations to Europe and Asia due to its mounting losses.

The kingdom is currently looking into alternatives to conventional fuel for generating electricity, including atomic energy and extracting shale oil extraction. A multi-billion dollar project to build the first nuclear facility is under discussion, but the ambitious program has not yet been approved and under any circumstances is not expected to be functional for many years.

Efforts to tap into vast reserves of shale oil, however, began earlier this year, but experts believe it will produce enough to satisfy the country’s rising demands any time soon.

In the meantime, experts say the government will be struggling to meet the strict conditions of the International Monitory Fund to keep its books balanced as it looks toward borrowing more money in order to solve its urgent financial needs.

Copyright © 2012 The Media Line. All Rights Reserved.

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