Police commander killed in Jordan as protests turn violent
Jordan's obligation to the IMF has hindered its ability to tackle the fuel crisis in the kingdom, triggering yet another nationwide strike
By News Desk - December 16 2022

ARCHIVE – Riot police in Amman, Jordan during a protest by teachers on 29 July 2020 (Photo Credit: Jordan PIx via Getty Images)

On the night of 15 December, a Jordanian police force commander was assassinated, and four others were injured in an apparent attack on the state during violent protests that swept the kingdom.

In a statement, the police announced the death of the deputy director of the Maan Governorate police, Colonel Abdul-Razzaq Abdul-Hafez al-Dalabeh, during “violent riots” in the Husseiniya area.

The police added that they “will strike anyone who tries to attack lives and property with an iron fist,” vowing to crush any violent demonstrations across the country.

Over the past two weeks, the transportation sector announced a nationwide strike to protest the 16th hike in fuel prices in a span of two years, and demand an increase in government incentives.

The strike spread to several governorates on the ninth day of the nationwide protests, as temporary solutions failed to satisfy demands.

The Jordanian government sought to pay lorry and taxi drivers cash incentives for three months, however, the solution was not taken seriously, as it would not lower costs nor end the government’s failure to manage the sector.

According to the Jordanian Land Transport Regulatory Commission (LTRC), lorry and taxi drivers demanded “a reduction in fuel prices” and an increase in subsidies for the sector.

But according to a Jordanian official who spoke with Reuters, Bishr al-Khasawneh’s government is unable to fulfill these demands, considering it has already spent $700 million on fuel subsidies this year.

The limit set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the structural economic reform program forbids Jordan from increasing aid, but instead supports lifting it altogether.

In a statement issued in 2020, the IMF said that its program in Jordan is “designed to improve the investment climate and reduce costs to businesses, which will make it easier to create jobs while also protecting Jordan’s poor and most vulnerable.”

In 2018, the IMF encouraged the government to increase taxes, which led to nationwide protests that toppled the government.

A similar scenario is currently unfolding, as Khasawneh’s government has been accused by the parliament of being incapable of performing its duties to the country, and of failing to make the correct decisions.

In light of these developments, Jordanian youth joined the protests and clashed with riot police on numerous streets in the capital, Amman, and in the city of Zarqa.

According to local news, tear gas was deployed by the police in the Jabal al-Abyad neighborhood of Zarqa to disperse the riots.

Protests spread to the Tafiyla neighborhood in the capital, where demonstrators chanted against the government, specifically about their regret of “pledging allegiance” to someone they describe as a failed king.

Earlier last week, operations at Aqaba port were halted, and all export operations were suspended for days, threatening Jordan’s fragile economy.

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