Counterterrorism and youth radicalization in Jordan: Social and political dimensions.
Shortly after the founding of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in 2013, the first Jordanian youth (a) left the kingdom to join the jihadi organization. Since then, between 2,000 and 4,000 Jordanians have fought with the Islamic State, which makes Jordan one of the world's highest per capita contributors of foreign fighters. (b) As extremist overflow from the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars loomed, the government responded with the traditional counterterrorism strategy of strengthening its physical and legal security infrastructure. The General Intelligence Directorate (GID), gendarmerie, and Special Forces ramped up their operations, with an eye toward Syrian refugee camps and urban areas. The U.S.-funded and Raytheon-contracted Border Security Program began protecting the northern border with Syria. (1) The legal system, too, expanded its purview. In 2014, the government vastly expanded its existing anti-terror law, allowing police to arrest anyone whose spoken or published views were deemed threatening to stability. (2) This past March, the judiciary executed 15 prisoners in a single day, most of whom were convicted of Islamic State-related terrorism. (3) Finally, the government strengthened its influence over religious discourse as well, setting guidelines for mosque sermons and utilizing official Islamic institutions to counter extremist teachings with moderate Islam. (4)
These conventional counterterrorism strategies target what scholars have called "pull" factors, or the ideological and material benefits that draw recruits into terrorist group membership. (5) From the perspective of the Jordanian government, the centerpiece of this approach is unapologetically militaristic--to relentlessly strike at the organizational infrastructure of terrorism through the early detection of militant activities, swift dismantling of discovered cells, and prevention of border penetration by Islamic State operatives from Syria. (6) The imposition of steep punishments for those linked even tangentially to extremist violence is another pillar of this policy. The logic is austere: impose a harsh disincentive for even dabbling in radicalism that would theoretically outweigh the financial rewards or religious affirmations of joining the Islamic State--and for those that slip through, hope to catch them before any terrorist act.
Despite these efforts, Jordan still suffered an unprecedented surge of homegrown terrorism starting in late 2015, instilling new fears
of instability in a country still grappling with nearly one million Syrian refugees. In November 2015, a Jordanian police officer killed five, including two Americans, at a security training facility outside of Amman, with reports indicating the 28-year-old had become influenced by radical Islamism. (7) Months later, in March 2016, security forces were locked in a major shootout with an Islamic State cell in Irbid, close to the northern Syrian border. (8) In June, a local shooter inspired by the Islamic State rampaged through a GID office near the largest Palestinian refugee camp. (9) Weeks later, an Islamic State suicide bombing struck an army outpost on the eastern Syrian border, an area that has since witnessed several more bombing attempts. (10) In September, Christian journalist Nahed Hattar was assassinated in Amman outside the national courthouse by a local imam known for his extremist views. (11) In December, several Islamic State jihadis went on a shooting spree against the police in the southern town of Karak, resulting in more than a dozen deaths (including a Canadian tourist) and only ending after a dramatic siege at the historic Crusader castle there. (12)
Beyond these attacks lurk several deeper security threats. First, the discovery of an enormous arms and explosives cache maintained by the Karak terrorist cell revealed the ease with which militants can obtain weaponry today. (13) Jordan has been saturated with arms since it began supporting Western-backed Syrian rebels by serving as a key training and supply route. While weapons smuggling has surged, so too have thefts of combat supplies. In the largest known case to date, huge CIA shipments of U.S.- and Saudi-supplied arms were reportedly stolen and resold on the black market, including some that investigators believe were used in the November 2015 attack that killed Americans. (14) Second, while recent terrorism involved just a few dozen attackers, there is a far larger pool of extremists and thus potential terrorists. Each successive attack suffered over the past year was followed by security crackdowns rounding up hundreds more suspected militants. By one estimate, for example, the police and GID arrested 700 suspected jihadis in the two months following the December 2016 Karak siege. (15)
Finally, Jordan remains squarely within the sights of the Islamic State, with recruiters and ideologues actively encouraging and pursuing new Jordanian membership. For years, Islamic State announcements have openly called for violence against and within the Hashemite Kingdom. An Islamic State video released earlier this month glorified the Karak attack and promised to further destabilize Jordan. The group made clear its vow to destroy the monarchy, especially due to its role in training anti-Islamic State groups in Syria and imprisoning young Jordanians who joined the Islamic State. (16)
Diagnosing the Problem
These attacks highlight the need for Jordan to address not just pull factors but also "push" factors--that is, the negative circumstances that compel young Jordanians to consider membership in extremist groups like the Islamic State in the first place. Jordan is fortunate to have no sectarian faultlines or any recurrent conflict between its large Sunni Muslim majority and small minorities of Christians and other faiths. Nor has the influx of displaced Syrians destabilized the country; security forces control all major refugee centers, which have not become hotbeds of radicalization as some initially feared. Rather, most terrorists in Jordan hail from Jordanian homes, which suggests research should focus on the material and political conditions within society pushing these youths into extremism. In assessing such factors, this article draws upon observations by the authors in Jordan, including field-based interviews with youths and activists conducted during the summer and fall of 2016.
Well prior to the Islamic State's rise, terrorism researchers understood that in many societies, the impetus for radicalization was linked to concrete problems felt by youths, including economic deprivation, social disenchantment, and most of all, lack of political voice and identity. (17) Terrorist organizations "exploit a basic human need--the need for meaning, achievement, or esteem," and often that need runs deeper than material desires for financial gain or physical protection. (18) Scholars like Scott Atran have reinforced these insights with new interviews with jailed Islamic State terrorists, which reveal a near-universal justification for joining. Becoming part of a fervently committed organization provided a powerful galvanizing identity missing in their lives. (19)
In Jordan, counterterrorism policies have not kept up with these theoretical lessons, instead retaining the traditional emphasis on hardening homeland security through greater monitoring and intelligence. Countering and preventing radicalization, however, must also entail complementary engagement with the underlying social and political pressures that push individuals toward the visceral realization that carrying out extremist violence is worth dying for. This requires understanding why Jordanian youths feel so alienated from their political system and so disenchanted by their social and economic prospects that embracing the extremist violence of the Islamic State appears as the most attractive path.
Youth Bulge: Economics, Education, and Religion
Jordan's youth population is bulging. Two-thirds of the national population of nearly seven million is under the age of 30, and the national median age is 22. (20) Even before considering the deficit of political identity, it is important to note the economic and educational challenges for this vast youth demographic.
Jordan's youth unemployment rate is over 36 percent, more than double the overall rate of 16 percent. (21) However, these figures underestimate the true figure because they do not count those who stop looking for work after fruitless years. The public sector, including the bloated civil service, has long ceased serving as an absorber for the educated, while the private sector still struggles to grow amidst excessive regulations and inadequate investment. (22) Indeed, university graduates have such few prospects that their unemployment rate is nearly double that of Jordanians with only a high school diploma. (23) In effect, going to college penalizes young Jordanians because it reduces their likelihood of finding work commensurate with their skill level. In this context, it is easy to grasp the deprivation felt by many youngsters, particularly those from middle-income families hit hard by rising prices and creeping poverty. Indeed, youth protests regularly occur over this massive unemployment problem. (24)
The poor quality of education constitutes another factor. It is well-documented that public schools in Jordan do not stress teaching critical thinking and that prevailing pedagogies emphasize the attainment of degrees as a credential over intellectual growth and creative learning. (25) Less understood to the outside world, though, is how the antiquated curricula is saturated with Islamic symbolism rather than Jordanian nationhood and civic identity. (26) Yet these curricula are so deeply entrenched among teachers and parents that reform has become nearly impossible. This issue is essential given that most Jordanian recruits to the Islamic State are products of Jordanian schooling. The generation of Jordanians that has become sympathetic to the group are not drop-outs; they are the country's inadvertent educational outcomes.
These economic and educational problems contribute to youth radicalization, but focusing on them alone is problematic. For one, they will require many years to overcome. Staunching the unemployment rate requires long-term private sector growth, including reshaping the "culture of shame" that discourages vocational work, such as manufacturing jobs, as well as encouraging more entrepreneurship. Likewise, the battle over updating the educational curricula is ongoing and will likely require years of negotiation between officials, teachers, and religious critics.
The salafi community, which is far more conservative than mainstream Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood, is facilitating the youth radicalization. First, there are several tens of thousands of salafis in Jordan, but most adherents and imams are "quietist" insofar as they are disseminating their ideas through education and preaching rather than political involvement, much less violent activities. (27) The jihadi variant of salafism emitted by the Islamic State resonates with about 7,000 hardline Jordanian salafis, of which around 2,000 are known Islamic State sympathizers. (28) Traditionally, hardline salafis mobilized in poor rural areas like Ma'an, Karak, and Zarqa, flourishing given the government's inability to monopolize Islamic discourse. For example, the Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) regulates mosque sermons by certifying all imams and punishing those who do not preach official guidelines of moderation. However, of Jordan's 6,000 mosques, 700 have no government-assigned imams; most of these are in poor areas and are largely unmonitored. (29) Some served as informal pulpits for uncertified salafi preachers, while an unknown number of underground mosques also exist.
Over the past several years, however, new developments have complicated past assumptions that this singular variable--the salafi-jihadi community--was the vector to spreading extremism. For one, the salafi-jihadi community itself quickly fragmented along the same generational divide afflicting broader society. Prominent salafi-jihadi clerics in Jordan like Abu Qatada, Abu Sayaf, and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi have spoken out against the Islamic State. They and some other traditional salafi advocates continue to back competing groups like Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and other past or present al-Qa'ida-aligned groups. To be sure, not all salafi-jihadi theologians agree with this stance. Some, like Abu Muhammad al-Tahhawi and Saad al-Hunayti, have supported the Islamic State instead, but they also have less public visibility due to sustained government harassment designed to quiet them. (30) By contrast, Jordanian experts have found that youths joining the salafi-jihadi trend overwhelmingly favor the Islamic State's vision despite admonitions and warnings of punishment from religious elders (31) and the fact that the most prominent salafi-jihadi voices against this vision, like al-Maqdisi, are allowed the loudest media pulpit by the government. In other words, the generational disconnect from traditional authorities seen in Jordanian society is being replicated within even the salafi-jihadi community.
Second, Islamic State sympathizers responsible for recruiting new members have found the most success outside traditional heartlands of salafi-jihadi ideology in Jordan. It became apparent early on that youth adherents were hailing not just from impoverished cities like Ma'an and Zarqa, but more middle-class cities like Salt and Irbid, as well as Palestinian refugee camps abutting urban areas like Amman. (32) In addition, many eschew mosques favored by older salafi authorities, recruiting instead online or at recreational venues like soccer games and university clubs. (33) Whereas salafi-jihadism previously flourished on the periphery of Jordan's geography and society, it now has spread into its center.
Economics, education, and religion are important push factors when assessing youth radicalization in Jordan. However, focusing on these alone leaves an important stone unturned. That even educated middle-class Jordanian youths are gravitating toward the Islamic State indicates not just the strength of extremist Islamist ideology they adopt, but also the weakness of the life and identity they leave behind. Put another way, the salafi-jihadi narrative appears far more appealing and alluring when the counternarrative--the status quo position of being a young citizen supporting the Jordanian government--becomes meaningless or even repugnant. Here, it is vital to turn toward the political context, which reveals the underlying crisis. Many young Jordanians simply do not see themselves as stakeholders in their state or society. Surveys have long shown that Jordanians resemble other Arab youth cohorts in wanting less corrupt and more democratic governments. (34) The prevailing assumption within Jordan has been that frustration about not obtaining this goal would manifest in apathy rather than action among youths. For instance, most Jordanians under the age of 30 do not vote in parliamentary elections because they see the legislature as symbolizing the government's incompetence and futility. (35)
However, the authors' research points to another direction. Jordanian youths evince not just apathy, which would suggest inaction, but also powerful feelings of political marginalization that make them susceptible to Islamist radicalization and its promise of creating a new political and social order. In particular, young Jordanians frequently invoke concepts of injustice and helplessness, which embody deep political disconnect. The injustice embodies fury at the widespread corruption and meddling that troubles national political institutions, from business moguls purchasing parliamentary seats to frequent interventions by the security services. As one youth blogger relayed, "You can't feel pride in your country like the government says to when they are the ones who bribed their way to the top: it is insulting to our dignity." (36)
As recent focus group findings corroborate, young Jordanians also feel helplessness. (37) That helplessness stems from the belief that mobility is fundamentally determined by forces beyond their merit or control like tribal connections, royal favor, inherited wealth, and other ascriptive factors. Amplifying this strain of disempowerment is the increasingly restrictive environment for self-expression since the 2014 expansion of the anti-terror law. Few feel safe enough to speak honestly about these issues in public, given that security forces have ensnared hundreds of journalists, bloggers, and students with no connection to religious extremism for the simple reason that their criticisms and ideas "disturbed public order." (38)
Linking these feelings of injustice and helplessness is also the belief that the young have no political voice in the national decision-making process, which is dominated by the monarchy, its appointed government, and the intelligence apparatus. Interviews with seasoned activists divulge examples of demands consistently ignored by officials. (39) One is integrating the youth demographic into the political structure. The existing Ministry of Youth is an afterthought in terms of both budget and priority, and apart from occasional royal retreats or civil society meetings, youth groups have little access to government ministers and the royal court. Activists also call for the government to launch a comprehensive anti-corruption campaign aimed not just at catching prominent scapegoats, such as high-ranking officials charged with embezzling millions, but also eliminating the everyday acts of corruption that mar public life. The latter include such activities as small-scale bribery and the use of wasta (connections) to enjoy favorable treatment, as with the securing of a civil service position or wiping clean a criminal record. For many, this untreated issue means that criminality lurks deep within the Jordanian state, but political leaders are unwilling to uproot it. (40) Equally frustrating is the fact that these simmering anti-corruption demands helped instigate the youth movements that protested throughout Jordan during the 2011-12 Arab Spring, but even that tumultuous period did not result in promised reforms becoming reality.
The authors' discussions with youth-driven activist movements divulge these and other political grievances that signify a collective perception of exclusion and humiliation. This is precisely the environment identified by terrorism researchers that makes individuals susceptible to the siren song of extremist ideology. Jordanians who join the Islamic State or even feel inspired by it were not born as terrorists; they were made by a political ecology that has long ignored their generation's craving for dignity and purpose. Only recently have policymakers accepted this reality, but today the only notable anti-extremism program aimed at youths is a small-scale United Nations Development Programme initiative funded by Japanese foreign aid. (41) Countering and preventing extremism through political engagement with disenchanted young citizens has not yet become a policy priority for the Jordanian government.
Weakness of Jordanian Identity
These expressions of injustice, helplessness, and powerlessness are symptomatic of the weak attachment Jordanian youths have with their state and society. At the heart of this problem lies the absence of any robust sense of Jordanian nationalism or national identity. Historians frequently attribute this to Jordan's young age. The kingdom's founding in 1921 as a byproduct of British imperialism means that much of what passes as Jordanian culture today was explicitly invented during the colonial decades. (42) However, the most important reason is the multiplicity of competing subnational identities that more often exclude than include. The primary cleavage that still shapes public life today is the divide between the Palestinian majority and the non-Palestinian or "Transjordanian" minority. (43) Though virtually all are Muslim, most Transjordanians trace their heritage from tribal confederations that resided in the area before the arrival of Palestinian refugees-cum-citizens starting with the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Political tensions between these communities were magnified by the 1970 Black September civil conflict and, to this day, continue to manifest in discrimination and mistrust. For example, Transjordanians monopolize the state apparatus; they staff the civil service, armed forces, and security organs, and they are considered the core constituency for the ruling Hashemite monarchy. (44) Even among Transjordanians, however, lurk sharp divisions: central and northern tribes, like the Bani Sakhr and Sirhan, enjoy far more preferential access to public employment and resources than poorer southern tribes like the Bani Hamida and Huwaytat. (45) Inversely, Jordanian-Palestinians retain a prominent role in the private-sector economy but have little access to political power. The electoral process for parliament exemplifies this, as voting districts are highly gerrymandered to favor rural tribal areas at the expense of more densely populated urban areas where Jordanian-Palestinians predominate. They are also frequently targeted by Transjordanian reactionaries who still see them as glorified guests rather than Jordanian citizens.
There are nuances that fuzzy this simplifying optic, such as increasingly frequent Transjordanian-Palestinian intermarriage since the 1980s. (46) Yet the broader point is that Jordan has always lacked an indigenous identity at the national level that could cut across communal boundaries and enshrine an equal sense of political voice. Identity instead is an exclusionary act, a reminder of inequality that tells Jordanians what they are not, rather than what they are. The result is a hollow framework of citizenship incapable of mobilizing the populace behind unifying symbols, save for rare outpourings of grief--for instance, the death of King Hussein in 1999 or more recently, the Islamic State's grisly murder of captured Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh in 2015. While that latter event instigated collective anger by the Jordanian public, it clearly did not stop the flow of disaffected youths to the Islamic State, as evidenced by recent terror attacks.
For its part, the ruling monarchy does recognize this problem but has never fully addressed it because doing so would endanger its self-cultivated image as impartial arbiter of politics, one above the fray of communal rivalries and internecine conflict. King Abdullah's initial decade of rule after ascending to the throne in 1999 was marked by several royal initiatives designed to stoke national pride and which were accompanied by glitzy marketing, such as "al-Urdun Awalan" (Jordan First) in 2002 and "Kulna al-Urdun" (We Are All Jordan) in 2006. (47) However, these ended almost as quickly as they began because they lacked buy-in from youths. Young Jordanians never marched in support of these ideals of unity, seldom attended the government-sponsored forums designed to inculcate them, and blogged about them only to ridicule their hollow nature. As one youth organizer remarked, "There is no solidarity in society because there is no single Jordanian society--there are competing ones... until [the government] admits this, we won't pretend that all Jordanians are the same." (48)
Security-oriented counterterrorism strategies in Jordan have impeded but not fully staunched youth radicalization. Economics, education, and religious ideology have all played roles in pushing young Jordanians toward the Islamic State. However, as insights from terrorism studies and the authors' own research suggest, more direct political engagement with the large youth population is also important. The susceptibility of young Jordanians to extremist ideologies reflects pervasive feelings of injustice and helplessness, resulting in political disconnect amplified by the absence of any inclusive national identity. Terrorism has political outcomes, but in Jordan it also has political origins.
(1) "Jordan's JBSP Border Security Program," Defense Industry Daily, June 2, 2016.
(2) David Bishop, "Legitimizing Crackdown on Dissent in Jordan," Sada, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 22, 2014.
(3) "Risala siyasiyyah urduniyyah bi-habli al-mishnaqa lil-khilaya al-jihadiyyah 'ashiyyah al-qimma al-arabiyyah," Al-Quds Al-Arabi, March 6, 2017.
(4) Michael Robbins and Lawrence Rubin, "The Rise of Official Islam in Jordan," Politics, Religion, and Identity 14:1 (2013): pp. 59-74.
(5) For more on pull versus push factors, see Paul David and Kim Cragin, eds., Social Science for Counterterrorism: Putting the Pieces Together (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2009), pp. 301-302.
(6) Interview with one of the authors, government official in Amman, Jordan, August 2016.
(7) Jordanian Killer Was on a Journey to 'Paradise or Hell,'" Reuters, November 11, 2015.
(8) Sara Elizabeth Williams, "The Enemy Within: Jordan's Battle with Homegrown Terrorism," Middle East Eye, March 2, 2016.
(9) Siraj Davis, "Dead Mice, No Roars: The Jordanian Intelligence Service (Mukhaabaraat)," Foreign Policy Journal, August 12, 2016.
(10) "IS Turns Its Attention to Jordan," Al-Monitor, July 1, 2016.
(11) "Ightiyal nahed hattar bi-rusas imama qasr al-'adl wal-jani bi-qabdhat alamn," Al-Ghad, September 25, 2016.
(12) "Salamah Hamad: Karak Attackers Planned Further Assaults," Al-Jazeera, December 19, 2016.
(13) Dana Gibreel and Ezzeldeen Al-Natour, "The Road to Karak Castle: The Path of the Attack and Backgrounds of Some of Those Involved," 7iber, December 20, 2016.
(14) "C.I.A. Arms for Syrian Rebels Supplied Black Market, Officials Say," New York Times, June 26, 2016.
(15) "Jordan Detains 700 Jihadists since Karak Attack," Middle East Online, February 16, 2017.
(16) Formore on this video, see "Al-hisad--al-urdun... tanzhim al-dawlah yatawa'ud," Al-Jazeera, April 6, 2017.
(17) Rachel Briggs, "Community Engagement for Counterterrorism: Lessons from the United Kingdom," International Affairs 86:4 (2010): pp. 971-981.
(18) Jessica Stern, "Radicalization to Extremism and Mobilization to Violence: What Have We Learned and What Can We Do about It?" Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 668:1 (2016): p. 107.
(19) Scott Atran, "The Devoted Actor: Unconditional Commitment and Intractable Conflict across Cultures," Current Anthropology 57:S13 (2016): pp. S192-S203.
(20) Data from United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, 2015.
(21) World Bank, Jordan Economic Monitor: Reviving a Slowing Economy, 2016, p. 13.
(22) In Jordan, 33 percent of all jobs (roughly 400,000) belong to the public sector. Ministry of Labor, National Employment Strategy 2011-2020 (Amman: Ministry of Labor, 2011).
(23) World Bank, "Predictions, Perceptions, and Economic Reality," MENA Quarterly Economic Brief 3 (2014): p. 13.
(24) "Jordan: 'We Are Tired of Living Like the Dead,'" Al-Jazeera, July 30, 2016.
(25) Sean Yom and Katrina Sammour, "The Social Terrain of Islamist Radicalization: Insights from Jordan," Lawfare Blog, August 21, 2016.
(26) "Al-Anani: 'Addelna al- manaahij li-ann ba'dhha yahfiz 'ala al-irhab," Ammon News, September 19, 2016.
(27) Joas Wagemakers, Salafism in Jordan: Political Islam in a Quietist Community (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. 232.
(28) "Has IS Established Foothold in Jordan?" Al-Monitor, March 9, 2016.
(29) "6 alaf masjid fil-urdun minha 700 bidun imam," AllofJo.net, July 11, 2015.
(30) Joe Macaron, "Looming confrontation with ISIS in Jordan," Arab Weekly, April 8, 2016; Joas Wagemakers, "Jihadi-Salafism in Jordan and the Syrian Conflict: Divisions Overcome Unity," Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 2017; Wael al-Batiri, "The Case of Jordan," in "The Secret of Attraction: ISIS Propaganda and Recruitment," Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung- Jordan and Iraq, 2016, pp. 51-63.
(31) "Tanzhim 'al-dawla' bayna thalatha aqtab fi-tayar al-salafi al-jihadi alurduni," Al-Quds Al-Arabi, December 3, 2016.
(32) Nadine Nimri, "Fil-urdun al-tatarruf lam ya'd hakaran 'ala al-fuqara' walmuhammishin," Raseef22.com, November 20, 2015.
(33) Maria Abi-Habib, "Jordan Struggles with Islamic Extremism at Home," Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2016.
(34) See, for example, United Nations Development Programme, Arab Human Development Report 2016, 2016, pp. 177-178.
(35) "In Jordan, Al-Hayat Addresses Youth Apathy in Political Process," National Democratic Institute, August 19, 2010.
(36) Interview with one of the authors, Jordanian blogger in Amman, Jordan, October 2016.
(37) Neven Bondokji, Kim Wilkinson, and Leen Aghabi, Trapped Between Destructive Choices: Radicalisation Drivers Affecting Youth in Jordan (Amman: WANA Institute, 2016).
(38) Wafa Ben Hassine, The Crime of Speech: How Arab Governments Use the Law to Silence Expression Online, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2016, pp. 16-19.
(39) For example, interview with one of the authors, youth activist in Amman, Jordan, July 2016.
(40) Interview with one of the authors, youth activist in Amman, Jordan, August 2016.
(41) For the UNDP program, see Mia Chin, Sawsan Gharaibeh, Jeffrey Woodham, and Ghimar Deeb, "A National Strategic Framework for Countering Violent Extremism," Journal of International Affairs 69:2 (2016): pp. 115-132.
(42) Joseph Andoni Massad, Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).
(43) For more on identity politics, see Luigi Achilli, Palestinian Refugees and Identity: Nationalism, Politics, and the Everyday (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015).
(44) Adnan Abu Odeh, Jordanians, Palestinians, and the Hashemite Kingdom in the Middle East Peace Process (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 1999), pp. 193-236.
(45) Sean L. Yom, "Tribal Politics in Contemporary Jordan: The Case of the Hirak Movement," Middle East Journal 68:1 (2014): pp. 229-247.
(46) Katherine Blue Carroll, Business as Usual? Economic Reform in Jordan (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003), p. 110.
(47) Curtis Ryan, "We Are All Jordan... But Who Is We?" Middle East Report Online, July 13, 2010.
(48) Interview with one of the authors, director of civil society organization in Irbid, Jordan, August 2016.
By Sean Yom and Katrina Sammour
Sean Yom is Associate Professor of Political Science at Temple University and has published widely on Jordanian politics and U.S.-Jordanian relations.
Katrina Sammour is an Amman-based political analyst and risk assessor who specializes in the Middle East. Follow @katrina_sammour
(a) The authors define youth as ages 14 to 29, a demographic category also used by the World Bank.
(b) Most Western estimates suggest upwards of 2,500 Jordanians have joined jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq, including the Islamic State. See "Foreign Fighters: An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq," Soufan Group, December 2015. Independent Jordanian reports, however, suggest the number of Jordanians who have traveled to join the Islamic State is closer to 4,000. "4000 urduni bi-sufuf al-tanzhimat, l-irhabiyyah fi-surriyyah," Al-Ghad, August 7, 2016.