Who's in charge: Jordan's King Abdullah II is a significant U.S. ally and an important interlocutor for Israel on the Mideast peace process. The American-educated and Star Trek-loving Abdullah is the fourth member of the Hashemite dynasty to rule Jordan since World War II. However, an unpredictable new parliament and double-digit unemployment have led some analysts to question his grasp on power.
Warning signs: On Jan. 16, over 3,000 Jordanians gathered outside parliament in the capital city of Amman to protest the regime's economic policies. "Jordan is not only for the rich. Bread is a red line. Beware of our starvation and fury," read one of the protester's signs. Prime Minister Samir Rifai's government, which the protesters were calling on to resign, had already announced a $225 million package of additional subsidies to basic goods, such as sugar and rice. However, protesters have refrained from directly criticizing the monarch, likely due for their fear of a violent reaction from Jordan's security services.
Jordan's Queen Rania also received a hostile response from some online denizens after she tweeted that she was "Closely watching developments in #Tunisia and praying for stability and calm for its people." One Twitter user responded that she should "start palace hunting in Jedda," the city in Saudi Arabia where the deposed Tunisian president is currently hiding out.
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