JORDAN: Tribesmen slam Queen Rania, warn of revolt
Three dozen members of powerful Jordanian tribes have lashed out at the country's glamorous Queen Rania and denounced what they called a "crisis of authority," calling for political change and justice against those involved in corruption in the Arab kingdom.
in a joint statement issued over the weekend, the 36 tribal figures also issued a stern warning: If political reform isn't implemented soon, Jordan is likely to face a popular uprising similar to those in Egypt and Tunisia.
"Political reform is now an urgent matter that cannot be delayed, holding the corrupt and thieves accountable and freezing their assets, prohibiting them from traveling are all part and parcel of political reform," said the statement carried on the Jordanian website Ammon News.
On the topic of corruption, 40-year-old Queen Rania drew particularly harsh criticism from the tribal figures, who accused her of stealing from the country and manipulating and interfering in national politics.
"The queen is building centers to boost her power and serve her interests, against the will of Jordanians," they said. In an unflattering comparison, they likened her to Leila Trabelsi, the wife of ousted Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, who was widely known for her lavish lifestyle and high-end hobbies.
Those involved in corruption in Jordan, said the tribesmen, should be brought to justice and stand a "trial of the corrupt who have looted the country and public funds" regardless of their political or business position.
There has reportedly been no response from the royal palace, but Ammon News complained that international hackers had targeted the site after it posted the statement, removing the communique, according to CNN.
If powerful tribal figures turn against the royal family and the government, it could mean big trouble for Jordan. No less than 40% of the Jordanian population is represented in the tribes, and their support and loyalty to the Hashemite ruling family is crucial to the royals, especially in times of crisis and turmoil.
For the last month, Jordan has watched as domestic demonstrations, inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, erupted against high commodity prices, unemployment and corruption. After weeks of protests, King Abdullah II decided to sack the country's prime minister, Samir Rifai, and dismiss the Cabinet.
The powerful Muslim Brotherhood movement and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front, have turned down an offer to join the new government, saying they won't take part until Jordan has fair elections.
"We exclude taking part in the government at this juncture and believe we can serve our country better in the opposition," IAF Secretary-General Hamzeh Mansour told the German news agency DPA.
-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Photo: Queen Rania of Jordan. Credit: Associated Press