The stunning hypocrisy involved in the Arab League’s condemnation of Syria is nowhere more evident than in the fact that King Abdullah of Jordan, a through-and-through rotten autocrat, has called on the ruler of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, to step down.
“If I were in his shoes, I would step down,” said Abdullah this week.
Well, stay tuned. That might be true soon enough, if a report in this week’s New York Review of Books is correct. Nicolas Pelham, in “Jordan Starts to Shake,” says that protests are growing inside Jordan, and he adds that the king has not exactly been liberalizing the regime. Abdullah, he reports, is losing control of the tribes, the establishment and the people at large, and there’s even dissent within the royal family. Though he’s spent the last couple of years changing governments and prime ministers—and security officials—like dirty underwear, he’s still sliding down hill.
Even though Jordan is limping along on $1 billion per year from Saudi Arabia and another $800 million a year from the United States, Abdullah is losing touch. According to the piece:
[Abdullah] feted delegates from the Davos-based World Economic Forum with a champagne reception in his Dead Sea resort, sealing off public access for miles around the Dead Sea. The pretext for the meeting was ‘creating jobs,’ but bankers warned of the impending bankruptcy if Jordan’s wage bill is not further slashed. The complacent resplendence smacked uncomfortably, noted a doctor, of the latter years of the Shah.
Saudi Arabia, desperate to prop up Jordan (and to overthrow Assad), is going all out to save the kingly ally. And the piece reports that Jordan, which has been invited to join the kleptocracy club led by Saudi Arabia called the Gulf Cooperation Council, sent crack counterinsurgency troops to invade Bahrain this year to put down the anti-government rebellion there. “Some Jordanians complain that they have become the Gulf’s mercenaries,” reports Pelham.
Read Saudi Arabia’s (and Jordan’s) opposition to Assad as part of the Saudi-Iran cold war.