The oasis of political stability in the Middle East has been shaken with the hike in gas prices over the past few days. For the first time, Jordan has witnessed their people sincerely wish the downfall of their king, reciting chants such as “The people want the fall of the regime”; these cries resonating through the streets of Amman, the capital city, and many other cities across the nation. Also, according to the New York Times, Dhiban’s people burned pictures of the king out in the streets. How absurd, considering almost every Jordanian household has a commemorative picture framed of him somewhere.
But is it really irrational? The average per capita income is roughly $5,900 annually. With an increase of household gas prices by 53 percent, and petrol by about 12 percent and winter creeping around the corner, the people’s frustrations are indeed justified. The dependency on cooking oil, gas heaters and petrol is immense; therefore to scold their resentment is foolish. The people should have every right to be out there venting their frustrations and demanding change. The effects of the Arab Spring are seemingly spilling through the floodgates of Jordan, as our people have found their long-lost voice.
Although the protesters’ emotions are justified, their actions are questionable. Roads have been blocked, cities vandalized, stones thrown, things burned, people beaten and in fewer cases killed. I see the rebellion following in the footsteps of the ineffective role model, Occupy Wall Street. That was the biggest flop in revolutions. People were out ranting aimlessly, complaining like toddlers – there was no direction – everyone just demanded change. I’m not sure they all realized that “change” is a remarkably broad term. There was pointless violence all over the nation, and in the end people just gave up and that flame had burned out. To a lesser extent, I see that trend inadvertently rubbing off on Jordan. We need to set a goal, and plan a more organized path towards reform for a more effective voice. All I can imagine the government is witnessing is a child throwing a tantrum because it’s not happy with the way things are going. Well, the government knows that what they’re doing is going to benefit the economy and counter the risk of letting it crash. But as with anything else, there are other means of accomplishing such a task.
Violence and vandalism are not the solutions to winning this battle, neither is the fall of the government; planning, organization and composure are. We need to amend, not replace. Let’s set an effective goal and tackle it right.