MIDEAST CRISIS: King Of Jordan Meets With Muslim Brotherhood For First Time In A DecadeBy
US media is reporting that the King of Jordan has met with the Jordanian mg for the first time in a decade. According to a New York Times report:
AMMAN, Jordan — King Abdullah II, struggling to stave off growing public discontent, widened his political outreach on Thursday and met with the Muslim Brotherhood for the first time in nearly a decade. He also asserted in a statement that he would fight corruption and foster broad national dialogue. The statement from the royal court said, “The king reaffirmed in a meeting with a delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Action Front that it is important for them to work together to press political reform that will increase the role of citizens in decision making.”A Muslim Brotherhood leader, Zaki Bani Rshead, said earlier in an interview in his Amman office that the newly appointed prime minister, Marouf al-Bakhit, had offered the movement a role in his government but that it had turned him down. “We refused because we want the prime minister to be elected, not appointed by the king, and we want real elections,” he said. “We are willing to be a partner but in a real government.” The Muslim Brotherhood is estimated to have the support of 25 to 30 percent of Jordan’s six million people. It was expected to lead modest demonstrations on Friday calling for democratic steps, although others who had taken part in past weeks said they would hold off and see the nature of the new government. On Tuesday, after weeks of low-level protests demanding change here — and after huge street revolts brought political upheaval to Tunisia and Egypt — Abdullah fired his cabinet and appointed Mr. Bakhit prime minister. The king publicly instructed him to pursue democratic reform and reach out to a broad range of constituents. Mr. Bakhit has held many consultations in preparation for forming his government, in itself a rare step here. Abdullah, who turned 49 on Sunday and has been on the throne for 12 years, is clearly shaken by the events regionally and in his own country. He has been paying surprise visits in recent days to poor areas and villages and ordering assistance to the families he encountered. Thursday’s statement acknowledged the failure of recent efforts at reform, placing blame on “people who put their personal interests above the public interest, fear of change and hesitation in making decisions.” It said the king expected the new government to start a comprehensive national dialogue that includes all segments of society. It added that a new electoral law should be drafted that would attract political parties to take part in elections and that all the country’s issues should be discussed publicly “with transparency, openness and clarity.” It vowed tough punishment for anyone involved in corruption, saying, “no one is above the law.” Few predicted imminent danger to Abdullah given the long devotion to his family among Jordanians. But complaints against the king, once largely unheard of, have been growing markedly.
Earlier posts reported on protests organized by the Jordanian Brotherhood.
The Islamic Action Front (IAF) is generally considered to be the political wing of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. The current leader of the IAF is Secretary-General Ishaq Farhan a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, one of the three founders of the IAF, and a former education minister and senator. Mr. Farhan is also listed as a director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism. In 2000, Mr. Farhan was denied entry to the U.S. after having had his visa revoked in the prior year without informing him. The New York Times reported at that time that unidentified American diplomats called Mr. Farhan a “moderating force” and that he “as kept a distance from the vociferous opposition to peaceful relations with Israel.” However, in 2003 a media report said that the IAF had “declared a jihad in favor of Iraq and Palestine if the US attacks Iraq.”
Previous posts have discussed the support for Hamas provided by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.
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For GMBDW coverage on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, go here.