On Monday, the Jordanian prime minister resigned in response to mass demonstrations against economic reforms, yet his resignation has failed to assuage the protestors. Oded Eran explains the circumstances that brought about the current political crisis:
The demonstrators are protesting the government’s intention to enforce more meticulous collection of taxes, raise the tax rate, and increase the prices of [such] products . . . as electricity and gasoline. [While] the king has halted the implementation of the government’s decisions, . . . monetary and fiscal hardship remains, as does the regime’s dilemma of how to overcome it.
As a country lacking any significant source of revenue, such as natural resources or advanced industry, Jordan is dependent on external financial aid, primarily from the United States, several European countries, Japan, oil-producing Arab countries in the Gulf, and international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Given . . . the burden involved in absorbing 1.5 million Syrian refugees and the almost complete cessation of aid from the Gulf States, Jordan’s [sovereign] debt has intensified to the point of risking insolvency.
The policies that provoked the demonstrations were instituted, at the recommendation of the IMF, to ease the debt crisis—leaving Jordan on the horns of a dilemma. Although Eran argues that the protests don’t pose a threat to the regime itself, he notes that the underlying problems won’t go away anytime soon—and that should concern Israel:
Israel has a great interest in preserving the stability of Jordan and its ruling regime. Despite Jordan’s public conduct in the international arena regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which is irritating as far as Israel is concerned, it is important to remember Jordan’s direct and indirect contribution to Israeli security, which includes serving in recent years as a buffer zone between Israel and Islamic State. Israel can assist Jordan’s economy and budget, for example, by importing agricultural and industrial products, such as mortar. On a larger scale, Israel can reduce the cost of the water it sells to Jordan, transport some of its exports to the Far East via the Gulf of Aqaba, and demonstrate a willingness to purchase solar electricity from Jordan.