In 2011, as the Arab uprisings spread across the Middle East, Jordan remained more stable than any of its neighbors. Despite strife at its borders and an influx of refugees connected to the Syrian civil war and the rise of ISIS, as well as its own version of the Arab Spring with protests and popular mobilization demanding change, Jordan managed to avoid political upheaval. How did the regime survive in the face of the pressures unleashed by the Arab uprisings? What does its resilience tell us about the prospects for reform or revolutionary change?
In “Jordan and the Arab Uprisings,” Curtis R. Ryan explains how Jordan weathered the turmoil of the Arab Spring. Crossing divides between state and society, government and opposition, Ryan analyzes key features of Jordanian politics, including Islamist and leftist opposition parties, youth movements, and other forms of activism, as well as struggles over elections, reform, and identity. He details regime survival strategies, laying out how the monarchy has held out the possibility of reform while also seeking to coopt and contain its opponents. Ryan demonstrates how domestic politics were affected by both regional unrest and international support for the regime, and how regime survival and security concerns trumped hopes for greater change. While the Arab Spring may be over, Ryan shows that political activism in Jordan is not, and that struggles for reform and change will continue. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with a vast range of people, from grassroots activists to King Abdullah II, “Jordan and the Arab Uprisings” is a definitive analysis of Jordanian politics before, during, and beyond the Arab uprisings.
Curtis Ryan joined the Department of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University in 2002. He received his B.A. in history and political science from Drew University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His areas of interest and expertise include international relations and foreign policy; international and regional security; comparative politics; Middle East politics; and inter-Arab relations and alliance politics. Ryan served as a Fulbright Scholar (1992–93) at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies and was twice named a Peace Scholar by the United States Institute of Peace. In addition to his contributions to the Middle East Report, Ryan’s articles on Middle East politics have been published in the Middle East Journal, The British Journal of Middle East Studies, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, World Politics Review, Middle East Insight, Arab Studies Quarterly and many others.He is the author of Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002) and Inter-Arab Alliances: Regime Security and Jordanian Foreign Policy (University Press of Florida, 2009).