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Political, economic alarm bells ringing in Jordan

Former senior government officials in Jordan are concerned about the inability to introduce economic and political reforms and about overreaching by the national intelligence agency.
A Jordanian soldier carries a picture of Jordanian Captain Rashed Zyoud, who was killed during a raid conducted by the Jordanian security forces on Islamic State militants in Irbid, during the funeral in Zarqa, Jordan, March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed - RTS8ZIL
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AMMAN, Jordan — The northern city of Irbid grabbed Jordanians' attention March 1, when security forces launched a massive operation that left seven militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) dead along with one of their own. Two days later, King Abdullah II emphasized the “first and foremost” priority of safeguarding the security of the Hashemite state.

While acknowledging the government's legitimate fight against terrorism, a number of former senior Jordanian officials — Royal Court chief, prime minister, head of intelligence and the foreign minister during the reigns of King Hussein and King Abdullah — have expressed concerns about what they see as the leadership’s overemphasis on an armed defense and the country’s current path. They cite the troubling situation of a struggling economy with a bloated public sector, political leaders unwilling to undertake crucial reforms and an intelligence agency that intimidates members of parliament and generally interferes in political decision-making.

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