Violence in Syria is boiling over, and Jordan in particular is facing the fallout.
Since the beginning of the conflict last year, thousands of Syrians have fled the chaos at home to the relative safety of the Hashemite Kingdom. According to the UN, 33,400 Syrians left their country for Jordan, while other organizations put the count closer to 140,000. Though Jordan reportedly tightened its border restrictions, the borders are said to remain open for Syrian refugees. However, recent reports of Jordan preventing refugees from entering the country cast doubt over the supposedly open policy.
In recent weeks, Jordanian officials have predicted that refugees could threaten to overwhelm the country. In a bid to lessen tensions with Jordanians as well as the burden on the country’s infrastructure, Amman is now moving refugees away from neighborhoods. Concerned over Jordan’s ability to handle Syrians fleeing the violence, the United States said it would grant Jordan $100 million to help the country host the growing tide of refugees. With the additional assistance, aid from the United States to Jordan is expected to reach $470 million this year.
Jordanian law makers recite verses from the Quran during a session for the Jordanian Parliament (Photo: AP)
Beyond the refugee crisis, Jordan faces other internal challenges to its stability. The Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm in the country, declared it would boycott parliamentary elections scheduled later this year due to a dispute over a recently passed election law approved by Jordan’s King Abdullah II that uses a convoluted one party, one vote system. Stating that the law will allow pro-government loyalists to attain a majority in parliament, the Brotherhood continues to resist calls by Abdullah to participate in elections. Their participation is crucial for Amman since, without it, the political process in Jordan could fail, according to Islamist affairs expert Hassan Abu Hanieh.
Beset by internal political squabbles, pressures to reform, a war across its border, and a growing refugee crises, Jordan remains a Kingdom heavily influenced by regional events that play out in its internal politics and can threaten its stability.