The tremors of Egypt’s popular uprising continued to ripple across the Arab world Thursday as King Abdullah II of Jordan met with leaders of the opposition there to discuss possible political reforms, two days after dismissing his cabinet and promising to “bolster democracy.”
Some observers, however, have warned not to expect wide-ranging reforms to Jordan’s political process, which disenfranchises large swaths of the population and acts mostly at the discretion of the king. Edward Gnehm, the former U.S. ambassador to Jordan from 2001 to 2003, warned in an interview this week that Jordan’s deep ethnic divisions and traditional power structure augured against the kinds of sweeping changes being demanded in the streets of nearby Arab capitals.
“The problem is, it’s really difficult for the king to agree to what they’re asking for,” said Gnehm, now a faculty member at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. “I think there’s likely to be some change and some movement, but I don’t think there’s going to be any massive shift, at least not right away.”