AMMAN, Jordan A wave of demonstrations against Jordan’s King Abdullah II set off by an increase in fuel prices appeared to reach its peak on Friday without having won any concessions from the monarchy.
Several thousand protesters gathered Friday in a central square of Amman, the capital, to chant slogans calling for the king’s ouster, a demand that just three weeks ago organizers had deemed far too controversial and legally risky under Jordan’s strict sedition laws.
“Gadhafi, Ben Ali and Mubarak all left,” the crowd chanted, referring to the former leaders of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. “Abdullah, go, go.”
Protests similar to those in Amman took place in cities and towns around the country, as well as at the funeral for a young man shot by police after a demonstration Tuesday night.
Since the end of World War I, Jordan’s monarchy has been an island of relative stability in the perpetually stormy Middle East, and King Abdullah may be Washington’s closest ally in the region. As a pivotal buffer between Iraq, Syria and Israel, Jordan is the only other Arab state besides Egypt to recognize Israel. It also relies heavily on U.S. foreign aid. This week’s demonstrations have been the sharpest challenge to the king’s rule since the start of the Arab Spring revolts.
But the crowd in Amman, which appeared to be largely middle class and led by organizers from the secular opposition, was still palpably more timid than the mobs that ultimately brought down other Arab autocrats.