Some interesting (and entertaining) things happened this week in Jordanian politics…
First, the IAF just ended their temporary boycott of Monday’s Lower House session in protest for the appeals court upholding the ruling on the jailing of their members who praised Zarqawi. The boycott ended in good timing as the anti-terrorism bill is being debated in the Lower House and there’s the predictable likelihood of it being sent back for revision due to necessary clarifications. Love’em or hate’em, the Islamists are the best force of opposition for such a bill.
It’s been almost a year since the Amman bombings when a week after this bill was first introduced so regardless of the negative effect the attack had on political reform I still think it’s a good sign this bill still has not passed and is still receiving legitimate debate and scrutiny from the people’s representatives. I also think that it’s a good sign the people’s representatives are doing something they’ve had trouble doing in the past: representing the people aka their jobs.
Wait, I may be speaking too soon…
This debate took place in the morning session but after lunch hardly anyone showed up for the afternoon session and after more than 30 minutes of waiting the Lower House Speaker Abdul Hadi Majali had to eventually cancel the session due to lack of quorum. Where did they all go? The Speaker had this to say: “What can we do…the MPs want to take their naps in the afternoon!!”
I guess they were tired from the 138 days off.
Anyways: the house spent an hour defining “terrorism” and this is what everyone eventually agreed upon…
Ã¢??Every intentional action committed by any means that leads to killing anyone or causing him physical harm or inflicting damages to public or private property… if the intention of that action was to disturb public order and endanger public safety and security or impede the implementation of the law or the Constitution.Ã¢?Â [source]
The IAF’s approval of this definition is obviously an important and necessary affirmation as the concern has been that such a law would be implemented in the form of an anti-brotherhood policy by the government.
Another interesting thing was the proposal to include a clause to ensure that the definition does NOT include organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah.
Which leads me to the next story…
Both Hamas and Hizballah are not on Russia’s blacklist of terrorist organizations yet recently (and bizzarly) the Muslim Brotherhood just happened to make the cut along with AlQueda and the Taliban. Russia did not refer to the Jordanian branch of the brotherhood but it failed to differentiate between the worldwide organization and it’s regional branches, which is a considerable failure on its part.
This provided the Jordanian government a pretty decent public opportunity to rush to the Muslim Brotherhood’s defense on a state level, with spokesperson Nasser Judah saying:
“The Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan specifically is a legitimate group that operates under the constitution and laws and as such has particularities that differentiate it from any other organization that carries the same name in any other country inside or outside the Middle East region…”
He stressed that Jordan’s Brotherhood is a peaceful movement that believes in legitimate work and rejects violence and terrorism while safeguarding civilian peace and the principle of free dialogue as part of political life in Jordan. “It is a responsible national opposition group which is represented in parliament.” [source]
I have to give credit when due: it was a decent PR move. I use the word “decent” because speaking from a strictly political and PR viewpoint, the Jordanian government tends to let such opportunities fly right over its head and the fact that it didn’t this time is comparatively an improvement.
That being said, there’s obviously more to the story than simply good PR. I might be wrong but I’m inclined to believe this was a sincere attempt on the government to bridge the growing rift and discontent of the Brotherhood in the country, especially with regards to it’s political wing: the IAF. With municipal elections on the horizon, a rise in regional Islamist popularity (Hamas and Hizballah) as well as a sharp spike in the potential for religious extremes, it is not a good time to isolate the group politically.
That being said, the Prime Minister says he will seek a Royal pardon for the jailed MPs, which as I predicted before as being the likely option. If the same PR guy that called the shots on the Russia move is still in charge then the I’m guessing the pardons will be pocketed until some time in the Ramadan time frame a few weeks from now. But I could be wrong and I’m sure someone will remind me of that a few weeks from now.
UPDATE: Fellow Jordanian blogger Khalaf has another take on the Brotherhood issue while Issam has apost on a fight that broke out in Parliament.
Anyone else find these lists insultingly patronizing?
Anyways, failing to differentiate between MB of Jordan and the rest of MB in the world leads me into wondering whether this is a failure in Russian intelligence gathering or an intentional move to maintain some maneuverability just in case.
I’ve had an inside look on the parliament during 97-02, and it comes as no surprise that most MPs do not show up after lunch. That’s the least of all evils in the parliament and if I could change all but one thing, the napping is the thing I would keep.
“whether this is a failure in Russian intelligence gathering or an intentional move to maintain some maneuverability just in case.”
i’d say the latter. then again, russian intelligence gathering ain’t what it used to be i think that kevin costner movie was the start of the downfall