Jordan's crises in 5 charts: No read-across from arrests for GCC or Morocco

  • Behind "arrest" of one-time crown prince is context of long-running crises: 1) East versus West Bank population split
  • 2) Corruption, 3) Food prices, 4) Covid-19 economic hit, 5) Israel-Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, spillover, 6) water stress
  • No new direct read from events in Jordan to GCC or Morocco: policy and succession tensions occur in every royal family
Jordan's crises in 5 charts: No read-across from arrests for GCC or Morocco

Jordan is faced with long-running crises and this has resulted in divisions within the political elite. This is the context for the 3rd April "arrests" of, among others, the one-time crown prince (Hamzah bin Hussein who was crown prince from 1999 to 2004) and the former head of the royal court (Bassem Awadallah, who has also held senior positions in the economic policy team). There is a lot that we do not know about the specific circumstances of these arrests. But the drivers of the broader crises are much clearer: a population divided between East and West Bankers, social discontent (stemming from the perception of corruption in government, the spike in food prices and the Covid-19 hit to economic activity, remittances and tourism), the insecurity and refugee spillover from Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, and the stress on water resources. Below we illustrate these in five charts.

We have no insight or comment on the exact course of events surrounding the arrests (eg, questions such as: 1) are these technically arrests, restrictions of movement, or simply a removal of privileges? 2) was there a coordinated attempted coup in the making or are the arrests discrete cases? 3) was there any external involvement?) nor the impact on the position of King Abdullah II (aged 59 and in power for 22 years).

However, we argue there is no read-through for the other monarchies in the region – in the GCC and Morocco. Tensions exist (and have always existed) within any royal family. The specifics of how these tensions play out in one monarchy does not mean there is an implication for the stability of another.

Those tensions can cover a wide range of issues:

  • Policy choices (eg over the pace of social and economic liberalisation, or on foreign policy);

  • Role of different segments of society (where those segments are defined by ethnicity, tribe, geography, natural resources, or citizenship in the case of expatriates);

  • Succession (eg the reconciliation of different supporting tribal factions, shifting power to a younger generation within the family, choosing a line of succession between brothers or between father and son); and

  • Optimum space allocated for political dissent (eg traditional and online media freedoms, the role of consultative assemblies, whether elected or not).

Jordan's crises in 5 charts

Jordan population split between East and West Bankers

Jordan has a poor perception for corruption although some regional peers fare worse (eg Egypt and Turkey)

Jordan political "release valve" for popular discontent on corruption is changing the Prime Minister (13 since 2000)

Jordan has high sensitivity to the food price spike

Jordan is water stressed

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