Concerns rise after Jordanian police fire tear gas to disperse protesters

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Jordanians carry away an unconscious protester as a member of the gendarmerie stands by, during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister's office in the capital Amman late on June 2, 2018. (AFP)
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Jordanian riot police and security forces scuffle with protesters attempting to breach the area as they stand guard during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s office in the capital Amman late on June 2, 2018. (AFP)
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Jordanian protesters raise their hands in before members of the gendarmerie and security forces during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s office in the capital Amman late on June 2, 2018. (AFP)
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Jordanian protesters shout slogans before members of the gendarmerie and security forces during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s office in the capital Amman late on June 2, 2018. (AFP)
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Members of the Jordanian gendarmerie and security forces stand on alert as protesters shout slogans and raise a national flag during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s office in the capital Amman late on June 2, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 03 June 2018
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Concerns rise after Jordanian police fire tear gas to disperse protesters

  • Angry protests rock cities across Jordan overnight against IMF-backed austerity measures including a new income tax draft law and price hikes
  • Some 3,000 people faced down a heavy security presence to gather near the prime minister's office in Amman

JEDDAH: Thousands of Jordanian youth took to the streets for the third night in a row against tax rises and austerity measures — the biggest demonstrations since 2011.
In Amman, the Jordanian capital, police fired tear gas and blocked roads to stop protesters getting close to the prime minister’s office.
The protesters chanted angry slogans agains Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki and called for his resignation. They say a new tax bill backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will hurt the poor and middle class and will further deteriorate their living conditions..
King Abdullah, who arrived to the country last night after participating in an international gathering in Albania, has called for compromise from all sides and said citizens should not be the only ones to bear the tough economic burden Jordan has been facing for years.
The protests also took place in other Jordanian cities from the north to the south, where police had reportedly used tear gas. In the southern town of Maan, protesters burned tires on highways and scuffles broke out with police, Reuters reported.
Jordanians have seen prices rise with salaries failing to keep up.

On Friday, the government raised the prices of fuel derivatives, triggering angry protesters to rally in masses. But King Abdullah revoked the decision, but this failed to defuse the tension and the protests continued.
On Saturday, a meeting at the House of Parliament brought together all rivals including House members, Prime minister Al-Mulki and representatives of professional associations in an attempt to reach an understanding over the controversial tax law. The meeting ended with Al-Mulki determined not to withdraw the draft law, saying it was in the hands of members of parliament and it is up to them to decide its fate.
The government says it needs the money to fund public services and says the new tax bill will see higher earners pay more.
Earlier this year sales tax was increased and bread subsidies were scrapped as part of a plan to cut the country’s debt.
Al-Mulki said he hoped the reforms needed to get Jordan’s economy “back on track” would be complete by mid-2019.
Jordan has been hit by waves of refuges from neighboring countries. Millions of Palestinians, Syrians and Iraqis are living in the Kingdom and King Abdullah has said that conflict in neighboring Syria and Iraq has worsened Jordan’s financial situation.


Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

An intended visit to Tehran was canceled and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

  • Iran has maintained close ties to Iraq's government since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, Tehran's archenemy
  • The administration says the renewed sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to halt its alleged support for international terrorism

BAGHDAD: Failure by Iraq to comply fully with tough new US economic sanctions against Iran would be insane, analysts told Arab News on Tuesday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi risked incurring US wrath after contradicting himself in the space of a few hours over whether his country would comply.
Amid diplomatic maneuvers, as he negotiates for a second term in office after divisive and contested elections, Abadi offended both Tehran and Washington with conflicting statements on the US sanctions, which were reimposed last week.
First, the prime minister said that while Iraq disapproved of the new sanctions, it would reluctantly comply. “We don’t support the sanctions because they are a strategic error, but we will comply with them,” he said.
“Our economic situation is also difficult and we sympathize with Iran. But. at the same time, I will not make grand slogans that destroy my people and my country just to make certain people happy.”
His position provoked anger in Iran. An intended visit to Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the issue was canceled, and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned.
There was also criticism inside Iraq, especially from groups close to Tehran, such as the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and Badr paramilitary movements.
Within hours, however, Abadi had reversed his position. “I did not say we abide by the sanctions, I said we abide by not using dollars in transactions. We have no other choice,” Abadi told a news conference in Baghdad.
Asked if Baghdad would stop imports of commodities, appliances and equipment by government companies from Iran, he said the matter was still being reviewed. “We honestly have not made any decision regarding this issue until now,” he said.
Michael Knights, the Lafer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News: “Iraq can’t afford to be cut off from the dollar-based global financial system, so it makes sense to avoid sanctioned Iranian financial entities. Iraq should also protect its dollar reserves.
“These are the only sane options for a country that desperately needs international investment.”
Iraq is the second-largest purchaser of Iranian non-oil exports, and bought about $6 billion worth of goods in 2017. It also buys Iranian-generated electricity to deal with chronic power cuts that have been a key factor sparking mass protests in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, the British renewable energy investor Quercus became the latest major company to pull out of Iran as a result of the new sanctions.
It halted construction of $570 million solar power plant in Iran, which would have been the sixth-largest in the world.