Abdullah II now has a chance to secure his legacy by giving Jordan what it needs: a peaceful, orderly transition to a constitutional democracy with an independent parliament free from the king’s influence. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama’s administration has been flatly dismissive of Abdullah II’s critics, with State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland essentially telling them to suck it up.
“Economic reform is necessary,” Nuland said after the fuel price protests. “There is always some pain that comes with these things, but it’s a necessary pain this case.”
Jordan does, in fact, need economic reform. But until Abdullah II enacts real political reform, his nation will remain a ticking time bomb. Insular, top-down dictatorships almost always end up imploding, often in a sudden, unpredictable manner. Our “devil you know vs. the devil you don’t” policy toward Jordan’s king and his opponents is a false dichotomy that could make a delicate situation even worse.