King Abdullah Seeks Alliances to Counter Muslim Brotherhood

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King Abdullah II is attempting to form coalitions with leftist and liberal forces to challenge the Muslim Brotherhood and increasingly influential Islamists who are challenging his rule, Tamer al-Samadi reports.

Intensive dialogues led by Jordan's King Abdullah II a few days ago, held at the homes of political figures known for their divergent, even opposing positions toward the Islamic opposition represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, revealed an official direction to support new alliances with predominantly “leftist and nationalist” affiliations. The dialogues aimed to address what is known as the duality of the state and the Brotherhood, according to senior officials contacted by Al-Hayat.

According to observers and analysts, these dialogues were “an unprecedented breakthrough” in the royal dialogues, which brought together for the first time activists representing the popular movements, as well as emerging political forces, leftist and nationalist intellectuals and independents.

Participants in the unpublicized dialogues told Al-Hayat that the meetings were marked by “frankness and boldness in describing matters.” They added that the king stressed the government’s intention to “support the popular movements and restore the trust of the people, without undermining the dignity and prestige of the throne.”

With similar frankness, government spokesman Minister Samih Maaytah told Al-Hayat: “We seek to restore our relationship with the Jordanian people by all possible means.”

Abdullah II said that the recent decision to raise fuel prices “was made against the will of the state.” He noted that the Jordanian dinar “was on the verge of collapsing within just 18 hours, had the government not made swift decisions to lift the subsidies on oil derivatives in mid-November.”

Jordan’s king acknowledged the absence of a clear vision regarding the formation of the parliamentary government, which he had promised to adopt after the parliamentary elections early next year, amid a boycott by effective political forces, namely the Islamic opposition. However, in a meeting held at the home of a prominent state figure, the king said that the royal court “is currently considering all possibilities to reach formulas approved by everyone regarding the government.”

In contrast, King Abdullah II denied any relation to the so-called “loyalty and belonging” demonstrations, known for wrangling with reform advocates and attacking pro-reform protesters. He expressed his absolute opposition to arresting political activists for whatever reason and the to referral of political activists to the military “state security” court.

The king did not explicitly refer to the Brotherhood, but stressed Jordan's fear of the rise of political Islam in the region. He expressed his conviction of the need to confront this phenomenon in Jordan and prevent the formation of “sectarian alliances.”

In this regard, high-level Jordanian sources told Al-Hayat that “the ongoing controversy in Egypt over power and the methods followed by the Muslim Brotherhood there have directly affected the relationship between the state and the Brotherhood in Jordan, thus confirming the view of former conservative figures within the decision-making circles that the reformist demands of the Muslim Brotherhood are an attempt to overthrow the legitimate authority in the country by calling for restricting the powers of the king.”

Activists who participated in the royal dialogues told Al-Hayat that the government seeks to “support the leftist and nationalist coalition in the country, both morally and politically, as an alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood," in a serious attempt to prevent the rise of political Islam modeled on the Egyptian experience.

Activist Adham Gharaibeh, who attended a few dialogue sessions, said — without providing details — that the talks “came as a result of [the king’s] wish to listen to a political group that represents currents from the political left.”

Official and political sources said that “a team of top state officials have begun secret dialogues with the leftist and nationalist forces in conjunction with the royal dialogues” to reach an agreement on a new parliament with a “political flavor,” in the absence of the Islamic opposition and the National Front for Reform spearheaded by former Prime Minister Ahmad Obeidat, which includes a large number of independent political and tribal figures. The sources said that the team “explicitly called on those forces and personalities to end their boycott, while asserting the fairness of the elections.”

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