Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crazy Times In Jordan... Again

If you've been following the news, you know that all hell broke loose in Jordan two days ago, when the government lifted gas subsidies. They had to do it. There was no other choice. But as soon as they made the announcement, people took to the streets in protest.

This all started Tuesday night. And last night, from what I understand, was even worse, with road blocks and rioting all across the country. Lots of injuries; some deaths.

Here in my small corner of Amman, all is quiet for now.

Yesterday, though, I needed to drive through one of the main circles, one that had been blocked on Tuesday night and was blocked again last night. Just after I drove through it, I saw a group of flag-waving protestors heading the other way, toward the circle. As the car I was in came even with their caravan, there was a squealing of brakes, and a taxi came to a halt in the middle of the group of protesters, blocking their route. A carload of protesters leapt from the car behind him. The taxi driver got out of his car. The driver of the other car knocked him to the ground, and the group of men proceeded to stomp and kick him even long after he lay motionless on the ground.

I wasn't driving, so I could see it unfold as we continued past in the other direction. Other cars stopped on the highway and groups of men swarmed from their cars. By the time we crossed over the hill and out of sight, the taxi was surrounded by stomping kicking men. The Jordanian woman in the car with me was near tears. "They're going to kill him," she wailed, "and for what? Why do people act this way? This shouldn't be allowed to happen."


My husband was out on the roads half the night, doing some crazy things. If that boy had a blog of his own, it would put mine to shame. But no. I'm it, as far as blogs go, so let me just say I was relieved when he finally got home, well after midnight. Of course he's back at work today, despite the fact that it's a holiday, a three-day weekend in honor of the Islamic New Year. We originally discussed going to the Dead Sea this weekend, but I'm glad we decided not to, as all non-essential travel for Embassy personnel has been cancelled for the weekend, so we would have lost our reservations. Not to mention that the road there has been closed due to rioting on-and-off for the last 24 hours.

I'm guessing here - not as an employee of the USG, but merely as a person who reads the news and is on the ground here in Jordan - that the situation is not going to get better any time soon. People are angry and upset and I don't think they plan to go home any time soon.

Meanwhile, it's a weird parenting moment for me. Most young kids in the States can't find Jordan on a map, yet there I was last night over dinner, discussing gas subsidies and Jordanian blasphemy laws with my kids, who were wondering, no doubt, why their dad had just walked out the door dressed as a federal agent rather than a diplomat. They hear the muttered conversations and what-ifs when the adults gather for dinner at the Embassy, and so the boys know that we are living in strange times, with talk of tribal violence and tripwires all around. For them, especially for my eldest, I think it is a bit disconcerting.

They are getting a life lesson in the ways that poverty can bring a people down, in the ways that laws, once passed, have a profound influence on the populace, in ways both good and bad. Beyond that, they are aware of the problems on our borders, on all sides, and the world seems like a scary place to them right now.

I hope, for the sake of everyone here in Jordan, that this moment on the brink passes quickly rather than devolving into something much more terrifying for this country, and for the region.


Heather Dray said... [Reply]

Thinking of you and your family. It is getting ugly, and I don't see it improving any time soon, either.

GH said... [Reply]

Stay safe. Thanks for the post. It is so informative and well written on the situation over there. I am thinking of you and your family.

Naomi Hattaway said... [Reply]

Stay safe yes ... but more than that keep honestly parenting those kids ... you are raising some amazing children who have (and are) being trained up to be future TRUE global citizens. Proud of you!!

Brooke said... [Reply]

Your kids are very lucky to have such a thoughtful mother who doesn't try and pretend bad things don't happen in the world - someone to help them process what, as adults, we often have trouble processing. I wish them and you all the best. Stay safe

Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

I don't think I can add anything more than what has already been said. Just wanted to let you know that we are thinking of you and of the people of Jordan. Hoping that cooler heads prevail.

Sadie said... [Reply]

Thinking of you guys. Those are some hard dinner time conversations to have, but your kids are learning some amazing life lessons early on. I only hope you all stay safe or are able to get out of dodge quickly if need be.

Daniela Swider said... [Reply]

Also thinking of you guys and hoping things do calm down!

Please. Write your own stuff.