Jordan — January 2006

Sociopolitical situation

Jordan’s image as a safe and stable country, able to attract tourists and investments and to provide a safe refuge for persons and funds has been shaken by the terrorist incidents that targeted three of Amman’s five star hotels on November 9th. Terrorists wanted to punish Jordan for its active role in regional affairs, especially its strong stand in the war against terrorism. This incident may drive Jordan to become a even safer place than it has always been; it may grow stronger, because what happened represents the exception not the rule.

A new government was appointed after the terrorists’ attacks. Marouf Bakhit, the prime minister, is the fifth to serve under King Abdullah. He and his 23-member cabinet were sworn in before King Abdullah, and they will take over the sizeable task of putting into practice the recommendations of the 2,500-page National Agenda that was submitted to the King.

With unemployment hovering around 15% percent and poverty still plaguing one-third of the population, fuel price hikes are taking a bigger bite out of citizens’ incomes. The most affected families are using gas cylinders and kerosene for heating in winter. A third price hike in 2005 pushed up the prices of most basic commodities.

As of 1 January 2006, without meeting a new set of conditions announced by the Customs Department Iraqi cars cannot enter the kingdom. The new instructions will be applied to cars with black and white number plates as well as cars of diplomats, UN agencies and foreign companies working in Iraq. Other rules prohibit Jordanian citizens from bringing Iraqi cars registered in their names into the kingdom.

Religious situation

The annual assembly of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs this year was held in Jordan and included the heads of the Maronite, Coptic, Melkite, Syrian, Armenian and Chaldean Catholic Churches and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

They called upon the international community to help Iraq and the Holy Land and for a definitive end to the cycle of violence. They also called upon the youth to initiate programs involving Christians in the region by organizing committees for justice and peace and to respect the pluralism of their churches.

The Jordanian government has given its consent to a request by the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop in Amman for the establishment of a church court for the Coptic community in Jordan. The court, chaired by Archbishop Anba Abraham, is to be housed at the Coptic Patriarchate in the Abdali neighborhood.

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