Garrett Nada

Chronology 2011

Jordan’s protest movement was launched on January 14 when more than 5,000 people took to the streets in Amman and other major cities to protest mounting food prices and unemployment. Some demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai. But unlike in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, demonstrators did not call for the fall of the ruling system.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), took a leading role in demonstrations early on. Jordan’s largest Islamic movement added calls for political reform to demands for improved economic conditions. Weekly protests nationwide prompted the resignation of Rifai and King Abdullah II’s appointment of Marouf Bakhit as the new prime minister. The IAF rejected the king’s selection though, citing alleged corruption, mismanagement and electoral fraud during Bakhit’s first term in the office from 2005 to 2007.

In March, the government created a national dialogue committee to discuss potential reforms. But the Brotherhood refused to join because the group was not mandated to discuss constitutional changes that would substantially curb the crown’s powers. Protests continued through the spring and summer, sometimes turning violent.

On June 12, the king announced sweeping reforms in a nationally televised address. He pledged to establish a parliamentary majority government and reform the tax system. But he did not specify a timeline for implementation. In September, the king issued a decree approving more reforms. In an interview with Agence France Press, Abdullah warned that the Brotherhood was “making a tremendous miscalculation” by boycotting elections and staying out of the political reform process.

On October 17, King Abdullah sacked Prime Minister Bakhit and appointed Awn Khasawneh, an international jurist, to head a new government. He also appointed a new intelligence chief after security forces were accused of intimidating demonstrators and journalists. Less than two weeks later, the king announced that, for the first time, lawmakers would have a say in appointing the cabinet.

Jan. 14: Inspired by events in Tunisia, more than 5,000 Jordanians protested mounting food prices and unemployment across Jordan. Some university students and Ba’athist party supporters held rallies Irbid, Karak, Maan and Salt, and demanded that Prime Minister Samir Rifai step down.

Jan. 21: The Muslim Brotherhoods led thousands in demonstrations against economic conditions in several cities. But the movement also called for a new elections law based on proportional representation, electoral redistricting, and having the prime minister elected instead of picked by the king.

Jan. 26: King Abdullah II acknowledged that it is time to enact more political and economic reforms in Jordan.

Jan. 28: Thousands took to the streets again to demand the prime minister’s resignation and worsening economic conditions. Some 3,500 opposition activists from the Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front, trade unions and left organizations gathered in Amman while another 2,500 reportedly demonstrated in six other cities.

Feb. 1: Samir al Rifai stepped down and King Abdullah appointed Marouf Bakhit as the new prime minister. The Islamic Action Front called the selection “inappropriate” citing corruption, mismanagement and electoral fraud during Bakhit’s previous term from 2005 to 2007.

Feb. 4: Several hundred protestors led by the Islamic Action Front rally in Amman against government corruption and demanded more reforms.

March 14: Prime Minister Bakhit’s cabinet announced the creation of a national dialogue committee to help spur reform efforts.

March 15: The Muslim Brotherhood refused to join the 52-member national dialogue committee because it was not tasked to discuss constitutional changes that would curb the crown’s powers.

March 22: In a letter to the prime minister, King Abdullah urged the government to take quick and decisive action on reforms and warned that he will not tolerate delays.

March 24: Some 500 protestors set up a camp in central Amman and pledged to stay until the government implemented promised reforms. The group, largely mobilized via Facebook, called itself the March 24 Movement.

March 25: Some 200 pro-government demonstrators attacked March 24 Movement protestors in Amman. Riot police were called in to break up the fighting. They also stormed the protest camp in Amman, leaving one man dead and injuring more than 100 others.

April 1: Police separated hundreds of government supporters and pro-reform demonstrators holding rallies outside municipal offices in Amman.

April 15: More than 2,000 people pressed for further political reforms in a demonstration in Amman.

In Zarqa, some 350 Salafis and a slightly smaller group of monarchy loyalists clashed. Police dispersed the crowds using tear gas but 83 are injured.

April 26: King Abdullah tasked Ahmad Lawzi, a former prime minister, to head the Royal Committee on Constitutional Review, a 10-member group formed to consider recommendation for reform, including constitutional amendments.

May: The Public Assembly law was amended so public demonstrations no longer required approval by administrative governors. Organizers were only required to notify the authorities within 48 hours.

June 12: King Abdullah announced sweeping reforms in a nationally televised address. He pledged to establish a parliamentary majority government and reform the tax system. But he did not specify a timeline for implementation.

June – August: Smaller scale pro-reform protests are held across the country.

Aug. 14: The Royal Committee on Constitutional Review presented 42 proposals for reform and constitutional amendments. The king welcomed measures requiring elections to be held within four months, instead of two years, after the lower house of parliament was dissolved. The committee also recommended lowering the minimum age of parliamentary candidates from 35 to 25. A constitutional court was to be set up to oversee and safeguard lawmaking and a new independent commission was to be formed for supervising elections.

Sept. 30: The king issued a decree approving several constitutional amendments that provided for trial of ministers by civilian courts, establishment of a constitutional court and the establishment of an independent body to supervise elections.

Oct. 16: More than half of parliament, 70 of out 120 lawmakers, called on the king to sack Prime Minister Bakhit for failing to quickly implement reforms.

Oct. 17: King Abdullah sacked Prime Minister Bakhit and asked Awn Khaswaneh, an international jurist, to head a new government.  He also appointed a new intelligence chief amid accusations that security forces had intimidated demonstrators and journalists.

Oct. 26: The king announced that he will give lawmakers a say in appointing the cabinet, which had previously been appointed solely by the crown.

Nov. 18: More than 1,000 youth, Islamists and leftists protested in Amman for an end to corruption and more political reforms.

 

2012

Despite the changes, protests continued into 2012. On April 26, 2012 Prime Minister Khasawneh abruptly resigned. The king promptly replaced him with Fayez al Tarawneh, a U.S.-educated economist and former prime minister.

A new electoral law was passed in June, giving each eligible voter two votes instead of one. One vote would be for a local candidate and the other would be for a 17-seat national list. The change seemed to benefit national movements like the IAF, but the Islamist group dismissed the change as “cosmetic.”

In October, King Abdullah dissolved parliament, paving the way for the first elections since the Arab uprisings. Islamists led a massive protest, the largest since 2011, the following day to demand more democratic reforms. On October 10, the king appointed a reformist politician, Abdullah Ensour, as prime minister.

Riots over fuel price hikes broke out in mid-November and lasted for four days. For the first time, thousands of demonstrators openly called for the ouster of the king or the fall of the monarchy. The Brotherhood joined the protest on the fourth day, a Friday, during which thousands chanted “Go down Abdullah, go down.”

March 17: Some 200 women protested in southern Jordan to demand the release of political prisoners. The gathering was reportedly the first all-female rally since pro-reform protests began in 2011.

April 15: King Abdullah ordered the release of 19 political activists charged with insulting him during pro-reform protests in March.

April 16: Jordan’s lower house voted, 46 out of 83, to add an item banning political parties based on religion to the draft political party’s law.

April 26: Prime Minister Khasawneh abruptly resigned after six months in office, reportedly due to harsh criticism of his draft election law that could have favored Islamist politicians. Fayez al Tarawneh, a U.S.-educated economist and former prime minister, was tapped as a replacement.

June 4: Some 150 imams protested outside the royal palace to express their discontent with the government and called for an end of security service interference in religious affairs. The imams also urged an investigation into possible corruption at the Islamic affairs ministry.

June 19: A new electoral law was passed, giving each eligible voter two votes instead of one. One vote will go to a local candidate and the other towards a 17-seat national list. The change was thought to benefit Islamists and other groups with nation-wide popularity with a better chance at competing. But the Islamic Action Front dismissed the reformed law as “cosmetic.”

Oct. 4: King Abdullah dissolved parliament, clearing the way for fresh elections.  

Oct. 5: Thousands of Jordanians participated in an Islamist-led protest in Amman to demand more democratic reforms. The gathering was reportedly the largest since 2011.

Oct. 10: King Abdullah appointed reformist politician Abdullah Ensour as prime minister and tasked him with forming Jordan’s fifth government in just two years.

Oct. 21: Jordan issued a statement describing a foiled attack by al Qaeda-linked militants to launch near-simultaneous attacks on civilian and government targets in Amman, reportedly including the U.S. Embassy. The government announced that it had arrested 11 in connection to the plot, described as the most serious since 2005.

Oct. 23: King Abdullah directed the government to release 20 pro-reform activists who were accused of insulting him. He also called on the fragmented opposition to organize and run in the next elections, slated for January.

Oct. 24: The Independent Elections Commission published a draft of the executive regulations governing the proportional national list, seeking feedback from the public.

Nov. 13-16: Riots broke out across several Jordanian cities after the government announced an increase in fuel prices. Thousands of demonstrators in Amman chanted, “The people want the fall of the regime,” echoing the chant that was popular in Egypt and Tunisia. Protests turned violent on the second night, after police shot and killed a 22-year-old.  On the third day, protestors threw rocks and police responded with tear gas. The Muslim Brotherhood joined the protests on the fourth day. Some 3,000 chanted “Go down Abdullah, go down.” Three were killed during the days of protest.

Dec. 11: King Abdullah ordereds the release of more than 100 protestors who were detained after calling for the downfall of the monarchy during the November fuel price riots.  

 

2013

Jordan held its first elections since the Arab uprisings in January 2013. But the IAF, Jordan’s largest opposition movement, boycotted the poll, opening the door to loyalists to dominate parliament. The majority of the 150 seats went to supporters of the monarchy. At least 37, however, went to opposition figures, including more than a dozen Islamists not affiliated with the IAF.

In an unprecedented move, King Abdullah reappointed Ensour as prime minister in March after consulting with parliament for the first time under changes to the constitution. Later that month, a wide-ranging and candid profile of King Abdullah based on a series of interviews sparked furor in Jordan. A tribal council long allied with the crown labeled Abdullah a Zionist agent.

In November 2013, King Abdullah pledged to press ahead with reforms and referred to his plans as a “white revolution” in an address to parliament. He encouraged Jordan’s 23 small political factions to form two broad coalitions based on ideology for the next elections.

 

Jan. 23: Some 1.3 million Jordanians voted in parliamentary elections, about 56 percent of registered voters. The Islamic Action Front boycotted the poll.

Jan. 24-26: Violent riots across Jordan broke out over preliminary election results that show a clear victory for tribal forces loyal to the crown. Police dispersed some of the groups with teargas, but they were met with live fire in some instances. Demonstrators questioned the validity of the vote. The Islamic Action Front also rejected the outcome.  

Jan. 28: The results of the elections were endorsed by the Independent Elections Commission. The majority of the 150 seats went to regime loyalists. But at least 37 went to opposition figures, including more than a dozen moderate Islamists unaffiliated with the Brotherhood.

Feb. 10: King Abdullah told the opening session of parliament that electoral rules must change to support multi-party democracy. He acknowledged that the previous month’s elections, boycotted by the Islamic Action Front, “were held under a law that was not ideal.”

March 9: King Abdullah reappointed Abdullah Ensour as prime minister after consulting with the new parliament for the first time under changes to the constitution. Ensour spent the next three weeks meeting with lawmakers to form a new cabinet.

March 18: A wide-ranging profile of King Abdullah by The Atlantic caused a furor in Jordan.  The king had spoken negatively in several conversations with Jeffrey Goldberg about other Middle Eastern leaders, his tribal supporters, his siblings and others. A tribal council long allied with the crown labeled the king a Zionist agent on March 24.

March 22: At a press conference with King Abdullah, President Obama said he will work with Congress to provide Jordan an additional $200 million in aid to help the country cope with the influx of nearly half a million Syrian refugees.

March 30: King Abdullah swore in a new cabinet tasked with implementing unpopular austerity measures required under a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

June 23: Prime Minister Ensour revealed that some 900 U.S. military personnel are in Jordan to bolster its defenses and ensure the Syrian civil war does not spread across its border.

Aug. 1: Border police arrested Jordanian and other Arab smugglers trying to sneak a large arms shipment from Syria.

September: Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees were stranded at their country’s border with Jordan, which tried to limit the inflow of people after already accepting 520,000 Syrians.

Nov. 3: King Abdullah pledged to press ahead with wide-ranging reforms, referring to them as a “white revolution,” in an address to parliament. He said he would like to see Jordan’s 23 small political parties coalesce into two coalitions based on liberal or conservative ideology for the next parliamentary election.

Nov. 18: Jordan formally submitted a request for a two-year seat on the U.N. Security Council a few weeks after Saudi Arabia rejected the position partly in protest the international community’s failure to end the Syrian conflict.

Dec. 9: Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian representatives signed a milestone water sharing agreement.

 

2014

Jordan’s border crossing with Iraq became a main security issue in 2014. In June, ISIS took control of Iraq’s main border crossing with Jordan, bringing the fight against the Islamic extremists dangerously close to the kingdom. In September, Jordan, along with four other Arab countries, joined the United States in carrying out the first air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria.

In the fall, thousands of Syrians were stranded on Jordan’s border. International aid agencies claimed Jordan was turning away more refugees. But Amman claimed it only turned away those deemed to be a security threat.

In November, Jordan’s ministry of Islamic affairs launched a campaign to encourage Muslim clerics to preach a peaceful and moderate interpretation of Islam to reign in on extremism at home. On November 20, Jordan arrested the deputy head of the Brotherhood for reportedly criticizing the United Arab Emirate’s designation of the movement as a terrorist organization, accusing U.A.E. rulers of sponsoring terror and questioning their legitimacy. It was the first arrest of a major opposition political figure in years.

By the end of 2014, more than 600,000 registered refugees were living in Jordan, amounting to nearly 10 percent of the population.

Jan. 1: Jordan began its two-year stint on the 15-national U.N. Security Council. On the same day, it took over the presidency, which was held by each member for a month.

Jan. 13: A court sentenced four Salafi militants to 10 years in prison for shooting and seriously wounding two Jordanian border patrol officers on September 25. A fifth was given five years and the last was given one year in jail.

Feb. 14: President Obama announced that he intended to provide Jordan with $1 billion in loan guarantees and renew a five-year agreement that had previously included $660 million a year in aid.

March 10: Israeli soldiers fatally shot a Jordanian judge of Palestinian origin after he tried to seize a soldier’s guns and threatened two others with a metal bar at the Allenby Bridge.

March 14: Thousands of protestors called on their government to cancel its peace treaty with Israel following the shooting of a Jordanian judge of Palestinian origin by Israeli troops. Islamists, nationalists and leftists marched towards the Israeli embassy, but riot police kept them back.

April 15: Masked gunmen kidnapped Jordan’s ambassador to Libya, Fawaz al Itan and demanded the release of an Islamist militant in a Jordanian prison in exchange for the official.

April 16: Jordanian jets destroyed three vehicles attempting to enter the kingdom from Syria. A Syrian military source told state television in Damascus that the vehicles did not belong to its armed forces.

April 22: Lawmakers approved amendments to the anti-terrorism law that deem “joining or attempting to join armed or terrorist groups or recruiting or attempting to recruit people to join these groups” acts of terrorism. The changes also banned “acts that would expose Jordan or Jordanians to the danger of acts of aggression or harm the kingdom’s relations with another country.” Critics warned that the amendments, meant to curb jihadist influence, could also threaten media freedom.

May 13: Jordanian ambassador to Libya, Fawaz al Itan, was freed and returned to the kingdom after being taken hostage by gunmen in April. In return, Jordan agreed to release Libyan citizen Mohammed el Dressi, who was serving a life sentence on terrorism charges.

May 26: Jordan gave Syria’s ambassador in Amman, Bahjat Suleiman, 24 hours to leave the country after the diplomat ignored several warnings from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his overly critical statements of Jordanian policies to media outlets and posted on social media sites. 

June 22: ISIS gained control of Iraq’s main border crossing with Jordan.

June 26: A court found extremist preacher Abu Qatada not guilty of mentoring jihadist cells in Jordan while living in exile in Bahrain in the late 1990s due to lack of evidence. The move put ISIS much closer to Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Abu Qatada had been deported from the United Kingdom after a long legal battle.

July 25: Jordan shot down an unidentified drone in the al Mafraq governorate in the first such incident since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.

Aug. 25: Jordanian military prosecutors charged eight suspects, including a Syrian, with plotting to attack American soldiers, Israel’s embassy in Amman and recruiting for Hezbollah.

Sept. 22: The United States and five Arab nations, including Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, carried out the first air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria.

Sept. 24: Abu Qatada was released from prison following his acquittal on terrorism charges.

Oct. 8: The U.N. refugee agency reported that Jordan was refusing to let Syrian refugees cross the border. But the government claimed that it only had refused entry to those deemed a security risk.

Oct. 26: Jordan warned that continued Jewish settlement building on occupied Palestinian land and any change to the religious status of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem would “imperil” the peace treaty with Israel.

Oct. 27: Security forces reportedly detained influential al Qaeda spiritual guide Abu Mohamed al Maqdisi on suspicion of inciting terrorism on the Internet. 

Early November: The ministry of Islamic affairs began a campaign to convince Muslim clerics to preach a moderate and peaceful Islam in their mosques. 

Nov. 13: Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority agreed to take practical steps to ease tensions over the status of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem after weeks of riots, terror attacks and an assassination attempt. Amman played a key role as custodian of the holy sites in East Jerusalem. 

Nov. 20: Jordan arrested the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood reportedly for criticizing the United Arab Emirate’s designation of the movement as a terrorist organization, accusing U.A.E. rulers of sponsoring terror and questioning their legitimacy. It is the first arrest of a major opposition political figure in years. 

Dec. 21: Jordan ended an eight-year moratorium on the death penalty by hanging 11 men convicted of murder.

Dec. 24: ISIS downed a warplane over Syria and captured a Jordanian pilot, Moath al Kasasbeh. 

 

2015

February: A video circulated that appeared to show ISIS burning the captured pilot alive. Jordan announced that it will increase its involvement in the U.S.-led airstrike campaign against ISIS.

 

2016

Jordan continued implementing reforms in 2015. In September the kingdom replaced the one-person one-vote system with a list-based system ahead of its legislative elections to encourage more political participation. The Muslim Brotherhood ended its boycott to compete. Security also remained a central issue.

March 1: Security forces staged a raid on a suspected ISIS cell in norther Irbid, killing seven militants and seizing weapons, ammunition and explosives. One security force member was killed. 

April 13: Police raided Muslim Brotherhood offices in Amman and sought to transfer properties to a rival Brotherhood faction.

June 21: ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on the Jordan-Syria border that killed seven soldiers and injured 13 others.

Aug. 4: A Jordanian court sentenced 22-year-old Mohammad Masharfeh to death after being found guilty of “committing terrorist acts using automatic weapons” in an attack on a security complex that killed five people in June.

September: Jordan replaced the one-person-one-vote system with a list-based system ahead of the legislative elections to encourage political parties to participate. The Muslim Brotherhood ended its election boycott to compete.

Sept. 25: Jordanian cartoonist Nahed Hattar, who was on trial for a “blasphemous” anti-ISIS cartoon was shot and killed outside a courthouse in Amman.

Nov. 4: Three U.S. soldiers were shot and killed outside an air base in Jordan. The Jordanian military says the trainers did not stop at the gate as instructed.

Nov. 17: Parliament approved a by-law as part of the wider Decentralization Law, designed to strengthen local government. The new law would continue to be implemented throughout the year, calling for council elections in 2017.

Dec. 18: Security forces said they killed four “terrorist outlaws” after the gunmen besieged a castle in the southern city of Karak following a shoot-out that killed some 10 people.

Dec. 20: Four police officers were killed in clashes with Islamist militants near the southern city of Karak. The authorities were hunting militants who had killed 10 people on December 18.

 

2017

Jordan held its first local elections since 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed seats in several municipalities around the country.

Jan. 30: King Abdullah held talks with President Trump’s administration in Washington to discuss how to bolster Jordan’s domestic security amid the growing threat of Islamic State militant attacks.

March 4: Jordan executed 15 people, including 10 convicted on terrorism charges from attacks that occurred over the last decade.

July 17: A Jordanian soldier charged with killing three American soldiers last November was sentenced to life in prison. The trial did not establish the soldier’s motive or potential ties to any extremist group.

Aug. 15: Jordan held local elections for the first time since 2013, implementing the 2016 decentralization law. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front announced gains, claiming seats in several municipalities across the country.