Jordan's Parliament is voting on a bill to forbid religious political parties, effectively banning the nation's dominant Muslim Brotherhood opposition, reports the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. The move is seen as "retaliation" for the Brotherhood's opposition to another proposed election law, which would maintain the empowerment of tribal loyalists.
"This is only the latest in a series of measures by deputies to limit the influence of political parties and any dissenting views in parliament and political life in general," Zaki Bani Rsheid, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Action Front [IAF], told the German news agency DPA. The bill, which is being promoted as part of the monarchy's reforms, also bans parties on an "ethnic or sectarian basis."
Although the Arab revolution has toppled dictators elsewhere in the Muslim world, Jordan's king has so far sustained his regime on a fragile balance of tribal loyalists and "reforms." A collapse or decline of the kingdom would leave a religious and Palestinian majority in the state.
The IAF claims that it is still working with the regime. At a recent meeting of Islamist parties in Washington D.C., sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment, IAF foreign relations chief Nabil Al-Kofahi said that the Islamists were still willing to work within the monarchy framework to pursue political reform. It is unclear whether that was a political concession to Jordan's controlling intelligence apparatus or a genuine stance, especially as Al-Kofahi went on to present the regime as a hopelessly corrupt structure.
"Unfortunately, I would like to say that the regime in Jordan – even though we're still hoisting the slogan of reforming the regime – the king and the government and parliament and institutions, they're still stalling when it comes to reform," he said.
"The main – the first dilemma, it's a dilemma that relates to the political system, and the fact that the regime itself … is not serious about reform. But they respond to -- partially, to some of the pressure out on the streets, and also responding to the general state of unrest in the region. That's why there is a continuous attempt to absorb the reform movement and overpower it," he added.