Fortunately, Jordan Isn’t Egypt
The past week has been a really interesting time to be living in the Middle East. It’s not every day that an authoritarian head of state that has been in power for almost 30 years is thrust aside by a popular revolution, and it’s not for a lack of those types of guys around here. And add that this has happened not only once, but twice in the past couple of weeks. The news has been on non-stop in everyone’s apartments and even has even been blaring on the lonely television in our science department, which I don’t think I have ever seen turned on before.
All this commotion is why the timing of King Abdullah II sacking the prime minister and dissolving the government was a bit unfortunate, as it got swept into the turmoil of Egypt and Tunisia by the worldwide media. Sure there were some protests here, and yes there has been a bit of a government change, but there are many huge differences between what just happened here and what has happened to our neighbors in North Africa that probably aren’t apparent to the average American media patron. Here are just a few:
- SCALE: Egyptians gathered earlier this week for a “march of million” in Cairo, where the protests in Jordan have barely topped 3,000. That’s about 0.3% the size. It would be pretty tough for our country of less than 7 million to rouse up a full million for protests.
- PROTEST INTENTIONS: In Egypt and Tunisia, they were looking to overthrow a long lasting ruling regime. Here, people wanted a government change, not a regime change. Everybody is pretty much just as pumped about our beloved Abdullah as they have been in the past – me included! They just wanted the prime minister replaced.
- FREQUENCY OF THE EVENT: Mubarak has only been overthrown (or almost overthrown I guess) one time in the past 30 years, whereas the government here is dissolved a bit more often. In fact, this is the second time since I’ve been here that this has happened – the Prime Minister that just stepped down took office in December of 2009 to much excitement at the school as he is the father of one of the seniors who graduated last year. It happens so often that the country has had 60 Prime Ministers since 1946. The new Prime Minister has actually already run the government, about six years ago, which is also a fairly common occurrence (one guy held the office six different times over the course of 20 years). Though a new Prime Minister is certainly a change, it wouldn’t have been a CNN alert and NY Times article had Egypt and Tunisia not set the stage.
Bottom line is, while I greatly appreciate the concern from everyone in the states, I’m more concerned that I can’t find my Wednesday socks than I am about my safety here… by a lot (seriously – it’s confusing). Add to that the fact that my plants need watering, I need to buy balloons for Physics class, the knuckleheads in the hall refuse to keep their voices down when they’re roaming the hall at one am, and my DVD remote is missing so I have to watch DVDs all the way through and hope they don’t somehow get messed up halfway through. So while life is interesting following the news, it is the same old daily grind here in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. And insha’allah it will stay that way.