Jordan's crisis: Is an uneasy peace emerging?
Jordan protests against the king are the largest and most sustained since the start of uprisings in the region nearly two years ago, but the explosive protests expected this afternoon have yet to materialize.
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Protests in the cities of Irbid and Mafraq saw similar minor confrontations at protests, according to Police Department Spokesman Mohammad Al Khatib, but they, too, were stopped without injuries or arrests.Skip to next paragraph
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The crisis has not passed
Many young activists say they will pursue further demonstrations tonight, near Jordan's Interior Ministry, an area that has seen several clashes between groups of young protesters and police over the past few days. Protests are also planned in other cities throughout the country tonight, according to some opposition leaders, meaning violence could still commence as night falls.
In one hopeful sign, Mr. Hamarneh says some protest leaders would not participate in any demonstrations today in an effort to avoid violence.
"I think it was just a flareup, a spontaneous reaction, and not the way Jordanians usually conduct themselves," says Nimer Al-Assaf, the deputy secretary general of the Islamic Action Front, Jordan's largest opposition party. "I think, in general, people are sane, and will listen to the voices of reason, and will stop doing things like that."
Still, he says, the government should reverse the fuel price increases. "I hope they will cancel their position, and look for other means to mend [the budget]," he says.
Hamarneh's hope is that the violence will push the opposition to articulate a clearer program than it has previously, particularly on economic issues.
"We need to move quickly, to really think outside the box about how to cut spending without affecting the poorer elements in this society," he says.
The violence may be diminishing, but the morning's demonstration shows that the opposition movement that began in Jordan two years ago is far from over.
"The government steals a lot of money, which the poor people need," says Lina, a pharmacy student from Amman, at the morning protest with her friend. They stood, holding hands and cheering among a large group of women in traditional Muslim dress. They asked to be identified only by their first names: Secret police harassment is still endemic in many areas of Jordanian society, particularly universities. But the girls said they had been coming to protests "since the beginning" in 2011. "We feel there is no fairness," Lina said.
"We have come out for justice," said another protester, a man in his 40s in a gray sweater. "It is not fair: There are people in this country with lots of money and resources, and people with nothing. We want to live as one people, in justice and equality, without the thieves and the cheats and the corruption."
"We do not want to destroy Jordan. We are reformists, we want to improve our country, with dignity," he added just as a shout ran through the crowd, and a group of young men began running toward the police, shouting and pushing their way through other protesters, who were trying to get clear. The man in the gray sweater was pulled into the chaos before he could give his name.