Day 5: Ensour Refuses to Back Down, Protests Continue (Update 1)

(Update 1: November 17, 2012) It is now Day 5 since the people began to rise up in protest following the government’s decision to raise the price of fuel. We still have heard no public statements from King Abdullah, and the government shows no intention of listening to the will of the people, and protests continued today, with strikes scheduled to begin tomorrow. Numerous rallies were held today in Amman in the evening. The government still is seeming to hope that if it ignores the will of the people for long enough that the protests will go away, and they can return to their usual strategy of stalling while making repeated promises of reform, while doing little to nothing.

Today, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour spoke to reporters and defended the government’s decision to eliminate the fuel subsidies, and gave a television interview at 8:30pm (Amman time). We found this on his Twitter account @drensour (which is in Arabic). Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh is also scheduled for an interview on Sky News.

Part of the reason why we haven’t heard a great deal from the government may be that the Prime Minister is unfamiliar with Twitter. His account, as mentioned above is @drensour, but it’s not verified (so all I can actually do is presume that it’s really him and his staff updating it) and has only (as of now) about 700 followers, and his description still says “Member of Parliament.” Perhaps he decided that since Prime Ministers generally don’t last that long anyway, he might as well save the time and not update his Twitter account.

In the afternoon, he met with the board of the Jordanian Professional Teachers Association (JTA), in an attempt to persuade them not to strike tomorrow, but at a subsequent meeting later in the evening JTA head Mustafa Rawashdeh announced that the one-day strike would go forward on Sunday and urged parents not to send their children to school. He said that although the Prime Minister requested the meeting he “did not have anything new to say.”  However, Rawashdeh called for reform and said he rejected calls for the overthrow of the regime, but called for reformist protests to continue peacefully.

According to @Freedom_Jordan, the Prime Minister agreed at the meeting to release teachers who were detained during the protests, and they were released later. However he reports that there are still more than 250 detainees, including a young man named Laith Rawashdeh who is only fifteen years old.

He also said in a tweet a short time ago that the teachers are in fact going to participate in an open-ended strike along with the professional associations for engineers and agricultural teachers, although we do not have other confirmation of this yet. He also reports that student unions at universities and other youth movements throughout Jordan are planning to hold an open-ended strike as well.

Much of the media seems to take a dismissive attitude towards what is taking place. David Kirkpatrick, who writes for the New York Times said that “A wave of demonstrations against King Abdullah II set off by an increase in fuel prices appeared to reach its peak on Friday without having won any concessions from the monarchy.” As though the goal of the demonstrations were to beg for concessions from the King and that the people would go home when he didn’t make any. The King assumes that he’s going to be able to get away with the same tactics again but eventually they wear out – as the people have become aware of the government making the same broken promises over and over again.

This daily update has sections for each area where events have taken place. As we obtain more information we will add it to the respective section. If you witness any developments don’t hesitate to contact us or tweet to us on Twitter @ImpatientBedu, and we can add the information here. If you provide us with information and request anonymity we will publish the information without naming you as the source.

Amman

According to @Freedom_Jordan Protests were scheduled to take place this evening after Isha prayers (which started at about 7:06pm local time) in numerous neighborhoods, including a large demonstration Ashrafiyyeh, Ras El, Jebel al-Jofeh, Wehdat, and a joint demonstration from Jafaileh and Mahasreh. The protesters from Wehdat later joined those in Ashrafiyyeh. Protesters chanted against the regime and said that they would not stand outside the palace and beg. @joanarchists reports that plain-clothes security forces attempted to arrest protesters at the Ashrafiyyeh rally.

During the protests police attempted to arrest hunger striker Abdullah Mahadeen along with other activists but they failed to do so, @Freedom_Jordan reports.

Irbid

The Yarmouk University Student Union, as we mentioned yesterday, plans to hold an open strike beginning Sunday, citing its opposition to the government’s decision to raise fuel prices. The University administration has announced that despite the strike classes will be held as scheduled.

Maan

Al-Hussein University said that classes would be held as scheduled despite a student strike for tomorrow.

Tafileh

Tafileh Technical University’s Student Union announced that a strike would be held on Sunday while the university claims that classes will go forward.

Zarqa

Zarqa Private University announced that classes would go forward as scheduled and urged students not to participate in the student strike scheduled for tomorrow.

Day 4: Still No Word from King Abdullah (Update 1)

Protests against the government’s fuel price hike have entered their fourth day, and still we have heard nothing from King Abdullah even as protesters in Amman called for his removal. Protests today continued in Amman, as well as throughout Jordan. Still, despite the fact that the King has increasingly become the target of protesters’ anger, he still has yet to make a statement or public appearance since the crisis began.

There were only a few pieces of news that came out about the King today. The first was that he has cancelled his visit to the United Kingdom that was scheduled to take place next week. He also received a call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and according to Petra, the state news agency, the King expressed his concern over Israeli aggression in Gaza and warned against escalation, and also urged regional and international efforts to help ease the crisis. The end of this article is the interesting part. It says “She also hailed King Abdullah’s roadmap for political reform as well as the government’s efforts to achieve economic reform, stressing the importance of the Jordanian-US partnership.” and that they agreed to continue coordinating on regional developments, “Especially the situation in Gaza” (emphasis ours). Another article discusses the comments made by a state department spokesman indicating support for King Abdullah and his governments reform measures, while acknowleding the right to peaceful protest.

There is another, perhaps more ominous article on Petra, which discusses a conversation that King Abdullah had with the King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa. It says that they discussed events within the region “especially the situation in Gaza.” Bahrain, if you recall, was where GCC forces led by Saudi Arabia suppressed demonstrations as part of “Operation Peninsula Shield.” Did they talk just about Gaza? Or was anything else discussed?

What is going on? There’s no news from the King, nothing. Is he trying to ride out the situation, planning to repress demonstrators, or simply in denial? There’s no information. It’s this sort of denial that the people outside the palace and well-connected circles actually exist that serves as a catalyst for those out on the streets demonstrating.

The opposition Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing supported the demonstrations today and said they would participate until the government reversed its decision. The Muslim Brotherhood also emphasized its focus on dialogue, especially regarding reform of the electoral law. A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood says that the group “Isn’t against the King.” Pro-government groups also demonstrated in Jordan.

For this daily update, we have created sections for each area where events have taken place. As we obtain more information we will add it to the respective section.

If you witness any developments don’t hesitate to contact us or tweet to us on Twitter @ImpatientBedu, and we can add the information here.

Amman

At least 6000 people protested, with many calling for the removal of the King. This included a crowd estimated at 4000 at the Husseini mosque, where minor clashes with police were reported. There were also protests at Istkilal street and at Dakhliyya Square, which is near the interior ministry. This where previous protests were violently dispersed by police using water cannons.

Police closed streets to demonstrators, including  between Abdoun bridge and 4th circle, and between Blue Fig and Abdoun Circle, according to @LumaQ

Aqaba

Here is a video posted by @Freedom_Jordan of a large crowd protesting in Aqaba.

Irbid

According to Ammon Times, there were two protests in Irbid, both of which were held after Friday prayers. One of them was organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, and called for modifying the election procedures, reversing the subsidy cuts, and taking measures against corruption. The second protest was organized by youth and popular reform activist movements, and called for political, social, and economic reform. Security forces were present but no clashes were reported.

Demonstrations took place at the funeral of Qais Al-Omari, who was killed by the police during a demonstration on Tuesday.

Also in Irbid, the student union at Yarmouk University declared an open-ended strike.

Karak

Large protest reported. Here’s a video posted by @Freedom_Jordan.

Also, @che_palover tweeted numerous photos of the demonstrations today, including this one of protesters rallying on Friday night in Karak.

Tafileh

Protest calling for reforms held by youth and popular activist groups, which pledged to continue protesting until demands were met. Security forces were present but no clashes were reported.

Thiban

Police forces fired on protesters according to activist Mohammad Alsneid (related by @freedom_Jordan), though we have not seen other reports of this. We will keep you updated if we have confirmation.

Zarqa

Large protests were reported according to @freedom_Jordan. Here is a link to a video of demonstrators.