14.02.2011 | Roey Simioni | Yediot Aharonot
36 Jordanian tribal leaders break silence with unprecedented letter criticizing King Abdullah’s wife; accuse her of ‘serving own interests, stealing money from treasury’, warn of uprising similar to Egypt.
Will Jordanian Queen Rania Al-Abdullah and her husband be next in line to flee their homeland, as was the case with the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt? In a letter published this week by 36 Jordanian tribal leaders, who represent nearly 40% of the population and play an important role in the kingdom’s politics, the Queen was criticized relentlessly.
In the letter, Rania was accused of « corruption, stealing money from the Treasury and manipulating in order to promote her public image – against the Jordanian people’s will. »
The tribal leaders compared the queen to the wife of former Tunisian president Leila Ben Ali, who stole from her country’s treasury for years, giving her family members vast sums of money and land at the expense of the Tunisian citizens.
We call upon the King to return lands and farms given to the Yassin family (Rania’s family). The land belongs to the Jordanian people, » they wrote. Such a letter criticizing the royal family can lead to a three year jail sentence in Jordan.
‘Rania stole from treasury’
The tribal leaders warned that if the royal family fails to act quickly and implement the new financial and social reforms and move towards a democratic regime, they will suffer the same fate of Tunisia and Egypt’d leaders.
It was also mentioned that Jordan is suffering from « an authority crisis » and from a growing influence of « corrupt businessmen who surround the decision makers, affect political decisions and ignore national interests. » The tribal leaders called to « put these corrupt people who stole from the country on trial, regardless of their status. »
« Sooner or later Jordan will be a destination for a similar uprising like the ones in Tunisia and Egypt because of oppression of freedom and robbing from public funds, » said the letter.The tribal leaders accused Rania of « building centers intended to strengthen her status and serve her interests. »
Jordan’s King Abdullah also tried to prevent history from repeating itself last week by appointing a new government. New Prime Minister Marouf Suleiman al-Bakhit promised to work towards improving the economic situation and implementing political and economical reforms, but his promises did not please the masses. Demonstrators in the streets of Amman called out for freedom and action against the government.
‘Now Arab leaders fear their people’
« The events in Tunisia and Egypt allowed the Jordanian people to publicly say what they have so far preferred to whisper, » a Jordanian political commentator told AFP. « The Arab people used to fear their autocratic regimes, but things have changed and now the Arab leaders fear their people. »
A Jordanian citizen and a member of a large tribe in the country said that the Jordanian authorities « pressured a few tribes in the past days and told them to be carful what they say to the global media. We’re still loyal to the Hashemite crown, but we believe that King Abdullah has to stop his wife and her family from taking advantage of their power, otherwise the crown might be in danger. »
Queen Rania congratulated the Egyptian people for their successful coup. « Egypt, where I spent my university years. May you be blessed with security & prosperity for all in this new era, » She twitted and wrote on her Facebook page Sunday. However, her solidarity with the Egyptian people did not make an impression on Jordanian citizens.
Extravagant party at Jordan’s expense
Rania was also accused that her office assisted 78,000 Palestinian to receive Jordanian citizenship between 2005 and 2010. In a country where 6.3 million are of Palestinian descent, many in the kingdom fear that adding more Palestinians will make it easier for Israel to turn Jordan into an alternate homeland for the Palestinian people.
Last September, Rania celebrated her 40th birthday, and many criticized her for spending an « enormous » amount of money and having a very « ostentatious » party « at the expense of the treasury and the poor. »
In the past weeks thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to support their Arab brothers who rebelled against the « tyrannical regimes. » The support rallies turned into a united cry to overthrow the Jordanian government due to the harsh economic situation, the growing unemployment, the high food prices and freedom of speech restrictions in the kingdom.