The role of women in Jordan's Islamic Action Front (IAF) party challenges the stereotype of the Arab world's Islamist parties as inherently "anti-women," but also reveals the party's ambivalence toward women's political participation.
On November 20, Jordanians will head to the polls to elect representatives to the Chamber of Deputies. Comprised of 110 seats spread over forty-five electoral districts, the parliament includes six seats reserved for women, nine for Christians, and three for the Circassian and Chechen minorities.
The second of June marked the second anniversary of the assassination of Lebanese writer Samir Qasir, with no indication of who ordered the car bombing that silenced one of the loudest Arab voices criticizing autocratic Arab regimes, particularly the Assad family in Syria.
Jordan's Islamic Action Front, the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, has had its share of electoral success and is now positioning itself to demand more of a role in governance.
Until recently Western assistance programs aimed at strengthening political parties were less present in the Arab world than in almost all other areas of the developing world. As part of the heightened U.S. and European interest in promoting Arab political reform, however, such programs are multiplying in the region.
For the sixth time this year, Human Rights Watch is questioning Jordan's commitment to abolish provisions in its penal code used solely to silence opposition figures. In November, Adnan Abu Odeh, former head of the Royal Court was investigated for allegedly insulting the king and inciting sectarian strife during televised remarks.
Since King Abdullah II’s accession to the throne in 1999, expectations for political reform and related debates in Jordan have intensified. In this period, five prime ministers have formed governments. In his letter of designation to successive prime ministers the king has demanded political reform. Despite the king's demands, there has been little progress.
Since its economic crisis in the late 1980s, Jordan has pursued an economic reform program with several inter-related objectives: controlling inflation, cutting the government's budget deficit, fostering exports, supporting private sector development, and rebuilding foreign reserves.
Foreign democracy assistance organizations working directly with political parties have come into the line of fire as some Arab governments have pushed back against democratization initiatives over the past two years. In Algeria, Bahrain, and Egypt in particular, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) have been among the first to feel pressure.
Recent labor protests and bread lines in Egypt present a stark contrast to the Egyptian government’s narrative of impressive economic growth, which international financial institutions have validated. Jordan has not experienced serious protests recently, but it is also witnessing growing complaints about inflation despite notable economic growth.
Debates surrounding the April election of Hammam Sa’id as General Guide of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood reflected the deep internal conflict within the organization. For the past sixty years, the movement has managed to maintain internal unity. Recently, however, internal schisms—traditionally underplayed and kept secret—have become much more salient and public.