Jordan's king appoints new prime minister after protests

Marouf al-Bakhit attends a news conference after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (unseen) in Baghdad August 15, 2006. Credit: Reuters/Karim Kadim/Pool

Feb 01 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – King Abdullah of Jordan, a close U.S. ally, Tuesday replaced his prime minister after protests over food prices and poor living conditions, naming a former premier with a military background to head the government.

A Jordanian official said the monarch officially accepted the resignation of Samir Rifai, a wealthy politician and former court adviser, and asked Marouf Bakhit to form a new cabinet.

Demonstrators inspired by mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt had called for Rifai’s dismissal.

“(Bakhit) is a former general and briefly ambassador to Israel who has been prime minister before. He’s someone who would be seen as a safe pair of hands,” said Rosemary Hollis, professor of Middle East policy studies at London’s City University.

“I wouldn’t see it as a sign of liberalization. With his previous premiership, he talked the talk of reform but little actually happened,” she said.

Under fire from an enraged public over high food prices, Rifai announced wage increases two weeks ago to civil servants and the military in an attempt to restore calm.

Protests have spread across Jordan in the last few weeks, with demonstrators blaming corruption spawned by free-market reforms for the plight of the country’s poor.

Many Jordanians hold successive governments responsible for a prolonged recession and rising public debt that hit a record $15 billion this year in one of the Arab world’s smallest economies, heavily dependent on foreign aid.


Jordan's King Dismisses Government Amid Protests

Jordan's Royal Palace says the king has sacked his government. Above, Jordanian protesters in Amman on Jan. 29. (Photo : AP)

AMMAN, Jordan, Feb 01 (KATAKAMI.COM / WSJ) — Jordan’s Royal Palace says the king has sacked his government in the wake of street protests and has asked an ex-army general to form a new cabinet.

King Abdullah’s move comes after thousands of Jordanians took to the streets—inspired by the regime ouster in Tunisia and the turmoil in Egypt —and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai who is blamed for a rise in fuel and food prices and slowed political reforms.

The Royal Palace says Mr. Rifai’s Cabinet resigned on Tuesday.

King Abdullah also nominated Marouf al-Bakhit as his prime minister-designate. No other details were immediately available.  (*)

Medvedev to hold talks with King of Jordan Wed

Photo File : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) chats with Jordan's King Abdullah II on August 24, 2008 in Sochi, during a meeting to discuss bilateral relations and Middle East developments, including efforts to achieve peace and security in the region. (Photo by VLADIMIR RODIONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

AMMAN, January 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / Itar-Tass) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has arrived in Jordan on the second part of his Middle East tour.

On Tuesday, Medvedev visited Palestinian lands and had negotiations with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jericho on the West Bank. Later in the day the leaders opened a Russian museum in Jericho and toured a park near the biblical Fig Tree.

Dmitry Medvedev made the following entry in his Twitter blog, expressing his impressions of the tour of the Palestinian lands: “People in Palestine like Russia. It was gratifying to see the sincere emotions being expressed by folk in the streets of ancient Jericho.”

On Wednesday the President of Russia is to hold talks with his old acquaintance King Abdullah II of Jordan and visit the site of the Baptism of Christ.

An official ceremony to welcome Medvedev is to be held in the main square of the Jordanian capital. According to the Protocol, the national anthems of the two countires are to be played; the two leaders are to hear a report by the commander of the guard of honour. Following that, talks in narrow and broader formats are to be held.

“Our relations are notable for activeness and a high level of trust,” a Russian presidential administration official has told Itar-Tass. “There have been nine visits by Abdullah II to Russia since 2001. In February 2007, the then Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Jordan”. “As regards the developments in the Caucasus, Jordan officially took up a neutral attitude which was regarded by the West as a pro-Russian one,” the official said.” “In August 2008, the King sent planeload of humanitarian aid supplies to Vladikavkaz for the South Ossetian population,” presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko recalled.

Dmitry Medvedev and King Abdullah II are also to discuss the construction of a nuclear power station in Jordan by Russian specialists, Prikhodko said.

“We evinced such an interest and said we are ready to cooperate,” Prikhodko remarked. “However, this is not a matter of tomorrow or one or two years,” he added.

“Apart from Russia, applications were also filed by the Korean, French, and Canadian sides,” the presidential aide recalled. Jordan “must make a desicion about a site, and we must decide on a credit,” he said.

“In the estimates of the Jordanian side, the first nuclear power unit is to come into operation in 2018,” Prikhodko said.

Medvedevl’s aide recallled that in 2009 Russia and Jordan had signed an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. “It is now a matter of technology and finance. Russia will state its position at the (upcoming) talks. However, the situation depends chiefly on the Jordanian side,” Prikhodko said.

After the talks the Russian President will visit the historico-religious estate “The Site of the Baptism of Christ”. Over there Medvedev will tour a hospice which is being built on the river Jordan by the Russian side. More than 200,000 pilgrims and tourists visited the site last year. The RF Directorate for the Management of Presidential Property set a task of completing the construction and equipment of the compound in March 2011.

“The implementation of this unique project is of great importance: for the first time in history the Russian state has received a plot of land in this area and is erecting its own compound of buildings which will play host to pilgrims from Russia,” Prikhodko pointed out.

Ahmadinejad invites Jordan's king Abdullah to visit Iran

FILE : Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad



December 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / WEBINDIA123.COM) — Jordan’s King Abdullah II Sunday received a rare message from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inviting him to visit Iran, according to a royal court statement.

The message, which was delivered to the monarch by head of Ahmadinejad’s office Rahim Mashaei, expressed the Iranian leader’s “keenness on developing ties between Iran and Jordan in various spheres”, the statement said.

Abdullah underlined the need to meet with Ahmadinejad in the near future – either in Amman or Tehran – to discuss “ways for bolstering bilateral ties on clear bases in such a manner that serves the interests of the two peoples, Islamic issues as well as security and stability in the region”, the royal court said.

The discussions during the meeting tackled “a number of regional and international issues and means of addressing them in a form that reflects positively on interests of the Islamic nation”, the statement said without giving details.

Relations between Jordan and Iran appeared to have cooled in recent years after King Abdullah warned against the formation of a “Shia crescent” involving Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

However, Abdullah repeatedly called for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and warned against the dangerous repercussions of military action.  (*)

Jordanian King Seeks Improved Iran Ties

FILE : Jordan's King Abdullah



December 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VOA) — Jordan’s King Abdullah has said he wants to seek greater relations with Iran.

The king met Sunday with a top aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and said the two leaders should discuss boosting bilateral ties at a summit in either Amman or Tehran.

King Abdullah said it is important to take steps to improve relations that will help both Iran and Jordan, as well as boost security and stability in the region.

Mr. Ahmadinejad on Sunday also invited the Jordanian leader to visit Tehran.  (*)


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