Jordan Seeks to End Crisis Via Meetings With Brotherhood

Article Summary
Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has been agitating for weeks and promising to boycott coming parliamentary elections, is in talks with the government over “honorable” exit strategies, writes Tamer al-Samadi. A new crisis-response team will try to defuse tensions.

Current and former officials representing the various arms of the Jordanian state intend to form its first crisis-response team ever, designed to manage the current crisis between the state and the opposition, especially the Islamic opposition.

The latter chose to resort to the street rather than head to the polls, in protest of the law on which the elections will be based and in favor of the implemented reform packages.

According to confirmed information obtained by Al-Hayat from official sources, serious efforts are underway by former prime ministers, senior figures in various government institutions and politicians close to the decision-making circles to form this crisis-response team, which is expected to end the mounting tension in the country and build new understandings between the state and active political sides.

In the official meetings, these figures have called for launching a series of urgent meetings between the government of Prime Minister Abdallah Ensour and the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, in order to quickly reach political understandings that would end the political stalemate witnessed in the country since the outbreak of the pro-reform, anti-corruption popular protests in January 2011.

In this regard, the sources, who asked not to be identified, revealed that secret communications have been renewed between official parties and Muslim Brotherhood representatives aimed at reaching agreements that satisfy all parties.

Meanwhile, Jordanian political circles are preoccupied with analyzing the current political situation following the decision to proceed with parliamentary elections (based on the “who wishes to participate” rule) without making further concessions to opposition forces and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Opposition and pro-government politicians agree that the Jordanian government has achieved several gains in the area of reform. It achieved constitutional amendments that did not undermine the powers of the palace, established an independent electoral body and Constitutional Court that is the first of its kind in the country and managed to mobilize more than 70% of eligible voters to register for the elections.

Stalwart opposition figure and veteran politician in the Muslim Brotherhood Zaki Bani Arshid does not deny that the government “probably won the round of the electoral registration.” However, he believes that the domestic scene “will witness tensions that may lead to an outburst.”

He told Al-Hayat: “The state is mistaken in believing that holding the elections will end the turmoil in the country because it will inevitably wake up to popular demands calling once again for overthrowing any future parliament that does not enjoy popular approval and consent.”

Bani Arshid added: “It is unlikely that the elections will be held as scheduled for several reasons, most notably the economic crisis that is on the verge of explosion, the scale of the boycott and expected political confrontation or due to regional reasons, namely the Syrian crisis, which is expected to escalate.”

In a striking remark, Bani Arshid, second-in-command in the Muslim Brotherhood, expressed the group’s willingness to find “safe and honorable solutions and outcomes to achieve the higher interest of the country.” When asked about these solutions, he refused to elaborate, saying, “We will only talk about them at the dialogue table.”

He said that the only risk in Jordan today is “the state's insistence on holding elections that will reproduce the previous [political] scene. This would impair reform, just as some regimes have held elections that failed to resolve the crises.”

According to observers of Jordanian political affairs, the main concern of the decision-making circles is not the constant opposition in the street, but the economic crisis that could go any way, amid a delay by donor countries to provide previously pledged emergency financial aid to the kingdom.

Found in: political reform in jordan, jordanian muslim brotherhood, jordanian government

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