Truck drivers have launched sit-ins and work stoppages in Jordan’s southern regions over the past week in response to rising fuel prices. The protests have led to a pileup of cargo in the port of Aqaba and have disrupted transport routes into Amman and other cities. Shipping to neighboring Saudi and Iraq has reportedly not been affected, however. Some shops in the city of Maan, Tafila, and Karak have allegedly announced temporary closures in solidarity with protesters.
Demonstrations continued throughout Friday, with sit-ins reported in front of mosques around the country. Incidents of rioting and civil unrest were also documented in several governorates. Jordanian authorities reported that a policeman was killed after being shot in the head on Thursday night while police responded to reports of rioting in the city of Maan. Four other officers were also injured and reinforcements were sent into the area.
Police also claimed that protestors burned public property, vandalized buildings, and threw rocks at security personnel. Additionally, numerous highways linking towns to the capital city of Amman were shut down due to protestors burning tires. The Public Security Directorate, Jordan’s national security agency, also announced that the social media app Tik Tok was shut down due to “calls for chaos” and incitement of violence. They also stated that “forty-four people who participated in the riots in a number of regions in the kingdom have been arrested and they will be brought before the courts.”
Fuel prices have fluctuated significantly in Jordan over the past few years, with the most recent change being in October during which the cost of gasoline was lowered and the price of diesel was raised. The price fluctuations are a result of the government increasing or decreasing prices based on international prices and shipping costs. Jordan has a poverty rate of 15.7% meaning that a significant portion of the population struggles with paying for basic necessities, and an increase in fuel prices only adds to this issue. In response to the protests, the government has stated that it will look into the demands of protestors, but says that it has already paid more than 700 million dinars ($500 million USD) to reduce fuel prices this year. Government officials claim that any more spending would violate International Monetary Fund agreements.
Cover photo by: Khalil Mazraawi / AFP