Jordan tightens security, moves to protect economy amid crises
AMMAN – Jordan has tightened its security measures and is making political moves as it seeks to ease internal tensions. The kingdom is dealing with a serious economic crisis which has greatly affected various aspects of life in the country, and which was compounded by the spread of COVID-19 epidemic, galloping prices and the chaos caused by the repercussions of the recent elections.
Jordan is seeking to distance itself from the region’s conflicts in light of its heavy reliance on foreign aid to meet its various economic needs, especially as the country hosts a large number of overcrowded refugee camps.
Successive and simultaneous statements by leaders of the main security services in Jordan indicate the existence of official fears of disorder and unrest due to the worsening economic crisis, which has caused an increase in popular tension and affected the lives of citizens in the various governorates of the Kingdom.
Brigadier General Walid Qashha, commander of the Jordanian Gendarmerie, stated that the kingdom is moving forward in “strengthening the rule of law and protecting the national capabilities,” in what seemed to be a message to the interior about the need for discipline about one week after the resignation of the Minister of Interior and the chaos left by reactions and celebrations accompanying the recent legislative elections.
“The Public Security Directorate has become stronger and better equipped to defend the interests of the state and individuals, after completing the merging of its forces and the successful steps it has taken in this area,” he stated.
This past November 10, Jordan held legislative elections amid unprecedented health measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Following these elections, the country witnessed unruly displays of victory celebrations and parades in which automatic weapons were fired, creating a state of security chaos that embarrassed the authorities.
These displays and actions have angered the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah II, who described them as “unfortunate manifestations after the electoral process,” stressing at the same time that “the law applies to everyone and no one is exempted.”
The security services moved in and arrested a number of rioters and hooligans, including some election winners, for violating public safety laws and curfew laws and endangering the health of citizens by violating the ban on crowds and gatherings. The security services also seized a number of weapons that were used during these victory celebrations.
These developments came on the heels of a vicious crime perpetrated by a criminal gang on a boy in the city of Zarqa, which sparked a wave of angry reactions in the kingdom, resulting in another embarrassment for the security services usually known for their toughness.
The Jordanian authorities had strengthened the deployment of its security units in central areas, in front of hospitals, and in crowded areas, to prevent any attempt at breaking the law.
Jordan is paying a heavy price due to the repercussions of the conflicts surrounding it from its northern and eastern borders. The latest report released by the Central Bank of Jordan indicated that the country’s economic growth is still hindered by the burdens of the region’s burning conflicts that have directly affected the local economy.
Various political sources in Jordan indicated that the Jordanian authorities are looking for a way out of the economic crisis or developing an alternative plan in order to ease off the internal tension, which has increased due to the pandemic and economic paralysis.
To respond to growing complaints by citizens from high prices, the Jordanian authorities resorted to using security forces in the process of controlling commercial operations and fighting monopoly practices.
Security forces were deployed in market places, and officials met with merchants and business owners, especially following complaints from shopkeepers in the centre of the Jordanian capital against “market regulation decisions.” Officials had also to deal with a sit-in held by motorists due to the closure of the borders with Saudi Arabia.
The Director of Public Security, Major General Hussein Al-Hawatmeh, confirmed the continuation of the campaigns launched by the security services a couple of weeks ago to seize illegal weapons, as part of the general campaign to relieve tension and crack down on criminal activities. “Security work continues and does not end, and we will not allow anyone to infringe on the rights of others,” the official news agency Petra quoted Al-Hawatmeh as saying.
Observers say that Jordan needs aid to deal with the dire economic and social repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic. The crisis is heading towards more complication after previous solutions failed to ease off the pressure of social demands about two years ago.
They believe that the Jordanian government headed by Bishr Al-Khasawneh will seek to employ the resources available to the kingdom internally in its endeavour to confront the repercussions of the economic crisis.