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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Middle East

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Secular Anti-Government Forces in Jordan

February 2, 2011 - 2:53 PM | by: Mike Tobin

“We don’t need a change in faces, we need a change in policies,” May Abu Ziat told me in the bitter cold if an Amman traffic circle as anti-government protesters demonstrated.

The demonstration was aimed at King Abdullah II’s latest move to resolve the discontent that boiled up on the Arab street and in his capitol city.

The King accepted the resignation of his Prime Minister Samir Rifai and in doing so, fired the 31 ministers in his cabinet.  King Abdullah then appointed an old General Marouf Al Bakhit as the next Prime Minister and tasked him with forming a new government.

The demonstrators claim the King replaced one old chronie with another and they won’t see any kind of real change on the street.

The demonstration was small and orderly, a much different scene than what we are witnessing in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The fact that is was happening is much more significant than the size.

It was organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been the only opposition party that ever had the ability to form and gather any size or relevance in Jordan because the Brotherhood had the ability to organize through the mosques. However, the brotherhood had a partner in this demonstration: the Unity Party. That party is small new and secular. At the end of the demonstration, I was approached by a young man from the Student Democratic Movement, another small, new secular movement. Secular opposition parties were quickly crushed prior to recent developments.

It’s possible they could make a difference.  The current state of upheaval begs for a strong leader to fill the vacuum.  In recent history, it has always been the Islamists who were better organized when the crisis hit.  This is different because the movement started as secular. If moderate secular reformists can act fast, they can possibly bring the Arab and Muslim world into a new modern age of government.