Jordan braces itself for a long weekend of protest fever: Day 2 and counting
The morning after the night before in the Jordanian capital was no better, and news that the King 'might' respond to his Kingdom’s unprecedented opposition did nothing to quell the tension.
Teachers across Jordan went on strike and many workers took off home early to avoid the inevitable chaos later in the day. The protests began after the Jordanian government announced a hike in fuel prices on Tuesday, designed to cover some of the costs of their huge budget deficit.
However this is no longer a single-issue movement and discontent has been bubbling for some time in the laid back Kingdom. People are now hunkering down for at least a few days of protesting, if not a whole season's worth say some malcontents.
Wednesday night marked the second in a set of Arab-Spring-like protests but while Tuesday evening was largely quiet, police were not prepared to let protestors off the hook for a second night running.
In the capital there was clear evidence of water guns being used to crackdown on the demonstrators and repeat reports of tear gas. Hussein area, close to the Interior Circle in Amman was a mess of waterlogged streets and trash bins burned to the ground.
Riot police, out in force, tried to contain the crowd, closing off all roads to the circle and later chasing them out of the area.
“They are chasing us. Huge number of riot police. We are running hard”, wrote one Jordanian blogger.
Later when asked about the protest he had attended, the same tweeting eye-witness replied dazedly (still nauseous from the gas) - "Protest? What protest? There was a police chase from the get-go, and any chance of a rally or a protest was over before it had started!"
Local reports suggested more than 35 were arrested but as the crackdown continues there are no signs of the demonstrations letting up. Outside the capital, the situation was no less frenzied, and commuters in the capital who came from the surrounding districts expressed alarm at news from home. The northern city of Irbid saw road blocks and police shootings while in Karak in the south, rebels reportedly set the mayor’s house on fire.
Late night, and a young male protestor was reported shot dead by security forces in the second largest Jordanian city.
In Amman the demonstrations began at around 7pm, but even before then the rumors began that tribes from the outlying areas were on the move to the capital. At the first sign of these all-important families rallying, and even mobilizing arms, the Jordanian government shut down the key roads in and out of the city.
Thursday will see a public holiday to mark the Islamic New Year, but in the Hashemite Kingdom there will be no time for relaxing as the mass demonstrations look set to swell to match the inflated prices. The weekend ahead also leaves people extra leeway to plan further agitation, as the safe-haven Kingdom grows more restive and less stable by the hour.
What do you make of Jordan's overnight plunge into protest? Is this just more hot air that will blow over by the weekend, or has the Arab Spring finally taken a hold in a disparate nation?
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