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Posts tagged ‘King Abdullah’

Obama to Travel to Saudi Arabia to Discuss Security, Tensions.

The White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia in March to meet with King Abdullah to discuss a range of security issues in the Middle East that have caused some strains in the bilateral relationship.

The rare visit, which comes at the end of an Obama trip to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, will include discussions about “Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” the White House said in a statement.

King Abdullah met Secretary of State John Kerry in November and discussed concerns about the unwillingness of the United State to intervene in Syria and recent overtures to its arch-rival, Iran.

Saudi Arabia turned down a seat on the United Nations Security Council in October, in a display of anger at the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria.

That month, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief said the kingdom was looking at making a “major shift” in relations with the United States.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have long been close allies on military and energy issues.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Jordan’s king wants more representative parliament after boycott.

  • Jordan's King Abdullah (C) reviews an honour guard prior to the opening of the first session for the new parliament in Amman, February 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji

    View PhotoReuters/Reuters – Jordan‘s King Abdullah (C) reviews an honour guard prior to the opening of the first session for the new parliament in Amman, February 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji


  • Jordan's King Abdullah (C) reviews an honour guard prior to the opening of the first session for the new parliament in Amman, February 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ali JarekjiView PhotoJordan’s King Abdullah (C) reviews …
  • Jordan's King Abdullah delivers a speech during the opening of the first session for the new parliament in Amman, February 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ali JarekjiView PhotoJordan’s King Abdullah delivers …

AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordan’s king on Sunday called for electoral changes to make parliament more representative, after Islamists boycotted last month’s national poll saying rules were skewed against urban areas where they have most support.

Independents and candidates allied to Jordan’s powerful tribal establishment, which is strongest in the countryside, won most seats in the national elections January 23, after the Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood‘s political wing in Jordan and the country’s largest opposition party, shunned the vote.

King Abdullah, who has close relations with the United States, told the opening session of the 150-member assembly, the first to be elected since the Arab Spring, that electoral rules must change to nurture multi-party democracy.

“The elections were held under a law that was not ideal … Therefore I call for revisiting this law and reviewing the electoral system in a way that wins consensus, promotes fair representation,” the monarch told the assembly.

The elections were the first since the king enacted constitutional changes last year devolving some of his powers to parliament, which critics said had become sidelined as powers shifted to the palace and security forces.

But Jordan’s tribal political establishment resisted the king’s efforts to grant a higher proportion of parliamentary seats to cities dominated by Jordanians of Palestinian origin, who make up a majority of the population of seven million.

Jordanians of native descent enjoy preferential access to state jobs and government funds, although businesses owned by citizens of Palestinian origin are pillars of the economy.

Constitutional change came after protests against corruption and critical of King Abdullah. Though inspired by the Arab Spring, they were not on the scale of those that toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and sparked civil war in Libya and Syria.

Jordan’s native elite is wary of Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, with its demand for political reform.

The electoral law as it stands gives disproportionate representation to sparsely populated rural tribal and Bedouin areas – the bedrock of support for the Hashemite dynasty.

Only twenty percent of seats were won by Jordanians of Palestinian origin and their resentment could strengthen the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a strong following among poor Palestinians living in camps.

The Muslim Brotherhood says it is not turning its back on democracy but protesting what it called meaningless elections.

Abdullah said he hoped the emergence of parliamentary blocs in the next few days would allow him to consult with deputies for the first time before he appoints a new prime minister.

The king remains for many citizens the ultimate guarantor of stability in Jordan, whose neighbors include Israel, civil-war torn Syria, and an Iraq also riven by sectarian strife.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Jason webb)


By Suleiman Al-Khalidi | Reuters

The Growing Tensions Between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The Growing Tensions Between Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Egypt and recalled its ambassador as tensions between the two countries are at their worst in over thirty years. Protestors in Egypt have been gathering at the Saudi embassy for nearly a week, and things escalated so much that Saudis felt the need to close the embassy and bring their ambassador home. Saudi state television says the country pulled their ambassador for “consultations” after “unjustified demonstrations and protests” and “attempts to storm and threaten the security and safety of Saudi and Egyptian employees, raising hostile slogans and violating the inviolability and sovereignty” at the embassies in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

RELATED: Estimated Bill for the Arab Spring: $55 Billion

Why are they fighting? Ahmed el-Gezawi, an Egyptian lawyer, was detained by Saudi Arabia for allegedly insulting King Abdullah, he nation’s monarch. The Saudi government says he wasn’t arrested for insulting the King, but for smuggling over a thousand doses of Xanax into Saudi Arabia while on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Egyptians have been protesting for the lawyer’s release ever since. The charges for insulting the king stem from a lawsuit filed by el-Gezawi against King Abdullah for the alleged arbitrary detention of thousands of Egyptians. He was convicted in absentia to a year in prison and 20 lashes, but wasn’t informed of his conviction before making his trip to Mecca. Egyptians think the drug charges have been trumped up by the Saudi’s to try and get back at someone who insulted the King.

RELATED: Prosecutors Will Charge Mubarak for the Deaths of Protesters

What’s at stake? Egypt has a massive amount of debt. They’re currently sitting on a $11 billion budget deficit, and they’re trying to negotiate a $3.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Egypt has been looking to other Arab League countries for financial “assurances” to satisfy the doubts of the IMF. Egyptian financial officials originally rejected the loan last summer because they thought Saudi Arabia was going to give them a $3.75 billion loan. $500 million came, but there hasn’t been anything since.

RELATED: American Students Arrested in Egypt for Tossing Molotov Cocktails

Will the protest continue, or are they making nice? The Egyptian government is desperately trying to make this go away. Hussein Tantawi, Egypt’s military leader, called King Abdullah on Saturday and asked if the King would “reconsider his decision” to detain el-Gezawi, according to Egyptian and Saudi state television. Abdullah is expected to “look into” the matter over the next few days. In the mean time, the Egyptian government played like a country with a lot to lose and issued a statement expressing “regret” over some protestor’s behaviour, and stated how they hold the Saudi’s with “great esteem.” Egyptian state TV also published a written confession from el-Gezawi, though protestors believe he was pressured into confessing to ease diplomatic tensions.


By Connor Simpson | The Atlantic Wire

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