Jordan - Introduction
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Al-Urdun in the local form) is central to the geopolitics of the Middle East region and borders on Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Palestinian West Bank. Jordan is a small country with limited natural resources. For many years it has had to contend with a difficult external economic environment caused by problems in neighbouring countries: its goods have poor access to the West Bank and Israeli markets, while dealings with Iraq, which would normally be its largest export market, have been disrupted first by the effect of sanctions and, since the fall of Saddam Hussein, by lack of security.
Anti-American/anti-Western sentiment can become inflamed by regional issues. U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria and the U.S government’s policies on Israel have fueled anti-American feelings. Military operations in the region are viewed unfavorably by certain segments of the Jordanian population. Recent surveys conducted among Jordanians show that over 80% of the population have an unfavorable view of the U.S. government. This sentiment does not extend to Americans in general or American culture. U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take steps to increase their security awareness. It is especially important for travelers to vary their times and routes to decrease predictability while maintaining a low profile.
Political violence has focused on Arab-Israeli relations, government subsidies, and local grievances (access to water, government services, etc.). Violence in the West Bank and Gaza has led to demonstrations and anti-government/anti-U.S. sentiment. While most instances of political violence were not directly related to U.S. interests, there was a marked increase and the potential for directed political violence remains high.
There are frequent rallies, demonstrations, and protests, though the number of large, anti-government demonstrations has decreased in recent years. The majority occur after Friday prayers. RSO Amman tracked 55 major events, to include riots, in 2017. During the events, protestors burned tires, destroyed vehicles, blocked roads, shot out electrical transformers, and clashed with Gendarmerie and security forces.
Protests regarding government policies, lost jobs, taxes, wages, reduced subsidies, and other perceived injustices continue to fuel demonstrations, albeit at a lower rate than past years. The economic situation was also the reported cause of multiple protests. Demonstrations and protests can escalate to violent/disorderly demonstrations, sometimes resulting in road closures and confrontations with security forces. Permits are required for demonstrations, and security personnel monitor the events to ensure public order.
Physical road conditions in urban environments are generally good. Driving conditions in rural areas can be hazardous, as roads are less developed. The US Embassy strongly discourages individuals from driving outside greater Amman at night, as poor lighting increases the driving hazards associated with unmarked traffic patterns, livestock crossing, and erratic driving. Traffic accidents are common and often result in serious injuries/fatalities. Fatality rates are significantly higher than in the U.S. Excessive speeding and failure to obey traffic regulations are common.
Sexual harassment/assault is a concern for Western women, with most cases involving inappropriate staring, cat calling, stalking, and touching. Western women should be mindful of cultural differences and be aware that seemingly innocuous behavior such as riding in the front seat of a taxi or even polite conversation with a man may be interpreted as forward and/or inviting. Many incidents affecting Westerners involve taxi drivers inappropriately touching female passengers riding in the front seat.
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