Amman, Jordan — After the Egyptian army toppled President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the U.S. Congress expressed the sentiment of many in Washington.
“The army is the only stable institution in the country,” he said.
In the Western media, Arab Spring post-mortems proliferated, including a 15-page special report in The Economist that asked, “Has the Arab Spring failed?” The answer: “That view is at best premature, at worst wrong.”
Here in Jordan, Arab Spring inspired protests demanding King Abdullah II cede power to an elected government has petered out. A crackdown on the media that shut down 300 websites last month elicited little protest.
“We are witnessing a swift return to a police state,” said Labib Kamhawi, an opposition figure accused last year of violating a law that bars Jordanians from defaming the king. “You will find everything controlled.”
Yet analysts, opposition members and former government officials say that the Arab Spring has paused here — not ended. The underlying economic issues which prompted the protests that toppled governments across the Middle East and North Africa remain in place. Arab rulers and U.S. officials are both mistaken if they think they can rely on generals and regents to produce long-term stability.