Jordan's Muslim Brothers Push For Constitutional Monarchy

As Jordan gears up for elections at the end of the year, Tamer Samadi reports on efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood to steer the country toward a constitutional monarchy, thereby vastly limiting the power of Kind Abdullah II. The Brotherhood has been criticized by government officials for boycotting the upcoming vote.

al-monitor The empty hall of the House of Representatives is pictured after deputies left after boycotting a session to object to the government's decision to raise fuel prices, in Amman September 2, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed.

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political reform in jordan, muslim brotherhood, muslim, jordanian muslim brotherhood, jordan

Sep 19, 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is seeking to finalize a confidential document that could steer its conventional ties with the state in an unknown direction. This document will include a call to adopt a constitutional monarchy model, which means that the king’s sweeping powers would be undermined.

Islamist sources said that the document will include a political and economic vision to manage the country under the title “Jordan of tomorrow.”

The sources told Al-Hayat that the draft document is very similar to the Nahda project that the Egyptian Brotherhood’s main branch had prepared. They also noted that the draft was submitted to the Brotherhood’s Shura Council in Amman in 2006, yet it did not obtain the required approval at that time.

The draft was submitted to the Shura Council for the second time in 2009, where its content caused controversy and led to heated debates. The political measures contained within the document included a call to adopt the constitutional monarchy as the form of governance in the country, which would make the king a symbolic figure with restricted powers.

According to sources, the Brotherhood agreed on the document that was submitted by the former head of the Brotherhood’s political committee, Arheel Gharabiya, in 2006, provided that the current leadership added some amendments after having agreed that it will adopt it during the next phase. The document will be adopted after the addition of a clause for the implementation of a constitutional monarchy model, which was adopted by the previous Shura Council, although at that time they had not agreed upon a title for the document.

Adopting the official title for the draft is subject to approval of the final copy by the Brotherhood’s Shura council.

However, Gharabiya — who is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of adopting the constitutional monarchy model — told Al-Hayat that the Brotherhood leadership had “explicitly agreed on the document’s clauses that are relevant to the monarchy model.”

He added that “no one is refusing the constitutional monarchy model, which is designed to make substantial changes in the regime.”

Gharabiya continued, saying that “the document would enable the Brotherhood to develop a strategic vision related to all aspects of the regime, so that they would be able to manage the country once they rise to power.”

However, the Brotherhood’s second in command, [Zaki Bani Rasheid], told Al-Hayat that “the document needs a few months to be finalized,” adding, “we have come a long way regarding the economic vision in the document, which is very similar to the Nahda project developed by the Egyptian Brotherhood.”

Government spokesman Samih Maaitah, who left the Islamists’ ranks and joined the Jordanian regime several years ago, asked, “How can the Brotherhood demand that the constitution be amended, yet not take part in the upcoming electoral process, which they have announced they will boycott?”

Maaitah told Al-Hayat that “every party has the right to put forward programs and plans according to the law, but the Brotherhood is trying to control the government by refraining from participating and then trying to appeal to the public.”

He noted that the state had “delivered very clear messages to the Brotherhood," saying, "We told them to come and take part in the decision making and change process within the government. However, they responded by appealing to the public and preparing for a 500,000-man demonstration, in a clear effort to escalate the situation.”

Despite the state's and the Brotherhood's skepticism of one another, sources close to decision-making circles have said that dialogue is still open between the two parties. The sources added that King Abdullah II did not meet with Islamists in person to dissuade them from carrying on with their decision to boycott.

Rasheid said that “all possibilities are open, and we are not ruling out the possibility of a royal initiative that would prevent the country from going to hell.”

In related news, a high-level official told Al-Hayat that the state is seeking to calm the internal situation, and explained that an official movement seeks to bring a new political government, whose task would be to open up to the different movements and ensure the participation of all in the upcoming elections.

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