Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amman 10 Years Later: Chaos, Curfews and Attacks on Foreign Embassies

Armored cars moved throughout Amman streets at dawn Tuesday with loud-speakers blaring, "Remain in your houses".

The Jordanian capital was under strict military control in the third day of a curfew following weekend violence by mobs.

Army troops with fixed bayonets patrolled the streets where crowds had rioted in attacks against British and American embassies.

The King called on the new government to enforce law and order. The government took office Monday with Samir El-Rifai as premier.

Since the Saturday riots, the curfew has been lifted for only two hours each day, when tens of thousands of people stream out with sacks and baskets to buy out food.

No mail has entered or left the city since Saturday. Only official telephone calls are allowed. The army has taken over the post office.

There are no newspapers, no airline flights. It is impossible to enter or leave the city without a special pass.

There have been no more disturbances however, the curfew is expected to be relaxed gradually.

Officials in Damascus , Syria, announced Tuesday that Jordan has reopened its frontiers with Syria after a three day closure.

Imagine Amman being like this in 10 years? 15 or 20 years? Can you imagine yourself living in a city like that?

Many people fear Amman will turn into something like that, something scary, where every thing is politically-charged and violence will be erupting everywhere in the city.

Well, the article above was not my vision of Amman in the 2020s, but rather an article I quoted word-by-word from newspapers describing Amman in 1956. Click here to read the article directly from the Milwaukee Journal Newspaper

You may click here for a similar link if the first one doesn't work.
Also click here for a short silent clip taken during these events.

During that period, there have been many protests against the pro-Western Baghdad Pact and the suspicion that the Jordanian government would join the Pact. Embassies were attacked and curfews were enforced. People were allowed to leave their houses for only 2 hours a day between 5 and 7 pm. Many protests followed in the years after.

My point is: Amman and Ammanites survived. Jordan and Jordanians survived. People expressed their opinion, often at the expense of jail or harassment, but they did express themselves. This is not the first time that Jordanians take the streets or chant against the government, or ask for it to step down. It's not an unusual phenomenon. Unlike past decades, Jordan is in much less danger of "outside threats". One may argue that the circumstances are very different now from what they've been before, and I agree. Everything is much more stable than ever before. The threats to Jordan's stability are negligible to what they've been in the 1950s. There is virtually no strong leftist movement in Arab countries, there is no Egyptian president calling for Jordanians to get rid of their king on the radio, there are no Syrian troops aligned alongside the borders waiting for an excuse to invade them, and Iraqis are busy getting their country together. Israel won't attack Jordan and Jordan won't attack Israel for the next 100 years. The United States is broke and won't call for more wars even if Pearl Harbor was attacked again. Jordan seems more stable that it's ever been before.

Many things can change, and I could be wrong but Jordan, despite its young age, has matured quickly and is well-experienced with new developments in the region. We'll be alright.

Click on Photo to Enlarge


jaraad said...

Amazing intro! You should add “Historian” to your doctor title as well :) I thought it was just an imaginative scenario of the future.
Now, I agree with you that Jordan is a more stable country than before. Jordan Alhamdulilah although sandwiched for decades between the biggest Ba'ath countries managed to stay away being a Ba'athy country. And we proved wrong the prediction and analysis of some Jordanian, Arab and Westerner political analysts that Jordan will not be the same after the death of the late king Hussein.
Jordan is not just impressing outsiders but I think it impresses us as well. At some point we had some issues with Syria, Iraq and Egypt the three strongest Arab countries. And now as you mentioned we are more stable country than before regardless of what is happening now.
Nevertheless, I don’t rule out the possibility of a civil war if what is happening now continues to happen. We all know why but we don’t like to talk about it. You just need to read peoples comments on any related story of the police and demonstrators clash to realize that there is a big elephant in the room.

Anonymous said...

One unique aspect about Jordan and the Jordanian people in general is their ability to bring conflicts to a speedy conclusion fairly quickly.Even to so called civil of the seventies which is considered the biggest conflict of all conflicts concluded in less than two weeks.Rallies by demonstrators get dissolved in 5 to 10 minutes by the riot police, discussions regarding Atwa or Jalwa does not last for too long either.Even laws enacted by legislators prescence or abscence get enacted fairly quickly. About 250 temporary laws were enacted during Abu Raghib administration.I gueess what I'm saying is that Jordan is capable of resolving its most difficult conflicts quickly and swiftly.

امين العودات said...

الله يكثر من امثالك
فعلا انك فهمان الوضع ومطلع
ما شاء الله عليك

NasEr said...

wak zaman 3annak ya Dr! wain hal '3aibeh?! btw photo doesn't get any bigger when you click on it! care to fix that please?

Hareega said...

Hala bi Naser, I had nothing special to say so I stayed on the side for a while! Thanks for checking the blog abu shreek

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