The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was struck by a sudden but intense wave of protests after a proposed IMF-influenced tax bill threatened to make the country's dire economic situation even more unbearable for its nearly 10 million people. The government already removed subsidies on bread as part of its compliance with the globalist financing entity's structural reform demands for the repayment of a $723 million loan that it received in 2016. A recently proposed tax bill to increase tax rates by 5 percent was considered by people to be a cruel overstep on top of everything else.
Not only are Jordanians paying more for their basic foodstuffs and poised to receive even less in their paychecks if the controversial tax bill passes, but their country is already dealing with over one million Syrian refugees who have flooded into the kingdom over the past seven years, which adds to the more than two million Palestinians who live within its borders. With these three million foreigners presumably occupying the lower rungs of the labor sector and driving down wages for native-born Jordanians, it's understandable why its citizen would feel like they're finally being pushed past the breaking point by the IMF's latest demands.
Unlike in the North African and Mideast countries affected by the so-called "Arab Spring" Color Revolution attempts of 2011, Jordanians aren't calling for regime change per se in the sense that the vast majority of them aren't protesting against the monarchy that so many of them respect as an inseparable part of their country's identity. Instead, they wanted to remove the prime minister, which they succeeded in doing, and roll back the so-called "tax reform" bill, which is presently pending. The challenge, however, is that Jordan's stagnant economy needs to find a way to pay back its loan, and cuts in social subsidies and taxes hikes seem to be the only solutions as of now.
What happens in this tiny monarchy is disproportionately important to regional — and therefore, global — affairs because of Jordan's status as one of only two Arab countries signatory to a peace treaty with Israel, as well as being Saudi Arabia's close partner, thus making it a land bridge between these two unofficial allies and also functioning as a strategic American military outpost, too; so continued unrest there could have serious implications for Mideast stability.
Engin Ozer, a political analyst, and Ali Syed, a political researcher based in Belgium, joined our discussion.
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