Political Instability in Jordan

Political Instability in Jordan

Deepened political instability and civil violence in Jordan triggered by spillover from the Syrian civil war

 

Jordan’s political stability is threatened by the influx of large numbers of refugees and other spillover effects from the Syrian civil war. More than 620,000 refugees have flooded across the border since 2011—in addition to Jordan’s two million Palestinian refugees—severely draining Jordan’s economy and limited natural resources.

Jordan initially allowed most Syrians to enter the country through its informal border crossings. However, by mid-2013, Jordan closed its western border crossings near the Daraa governorate to all refugees except wounded Syrians and other exceptional cases, and began to severely restrict its eastern crossings in June 2014, stranding hundreds of Syrians in the remote desert.

The Jordanian monarchy has introduced political and economic reforms to improve conditions, including a ten-year blueprint for economic and social development released in May 2014, but its efforts have not succeeded in quelling political dissent or mitigating unemployment. The influx of refugees has driven down wages while simultaneously increasing rent and unemployment, which rose from 14.5 percent to 22.1 percent between 2011 and 2014 in areas with high concentrations of Syrian refugees. Jordanians are further divided among secular lines as political groups—such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Action Front—splinter due to ongoing sectarian conflicts in the region, particularly in Syria and Egypt. Jordanians are further divided along secular lines as political groups—such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Action Front—splinter due to ongoing sectarian conflicts in the region, particularly in Syria and Egypt. To date, more than 1,500 Jordanians are estimated to have joined the self-declared Islamic State in Syria. 

These external challenges threaten to exacerbate internal insecurity and heighten dissatisfaction with the monarchy. The United States has stationed approximately 1,700 troops in the kingdom and is the country’s largest aid donor, but Jordan continues to ask for greater assistance with border surveillance and reconnaissance to address further spillover from the war.

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