Rana F. Sweis

Journalist and Founder of Wishbox Media

Protesters in Jordan march to the Israeli border in support of Palestinians. (Published 2021)

AMMAN, Jordan - Thousands of protesters in Jordan, Israel's eastern neighbor, marched toward the border on Friday morning, chanting slogans in solidarity with the Palestinians and waving Palestinian flags as Jordanian riot police surrounded them. "We are here. Either we go down, or they will have to carry us back," they chanted, videos posted to social media showed.

New York Times

Royal Rivalry Bares Social Tensions Behind Jordan's Stable Veneer

The standoff between King Abdullah II and his half brother, Prince Hamzah, wasn't just palace intrigue. It hinted at Saudi meddling and highlighted wider tensions within Jordan's complex society. AMMAN, Jordan - The prince and the general paced the garden outside the prince's palace, locked in a deep argument.

Breaking Silence, Jordan's King Says Royal Family Rift Is Over

The government has accused King Abdullah II's half brother, Prince Hamzah, of undermining national security, and arrested several of his associates. AMMAN, Jordan - King Abdullah II of Jordan broke his silence Wednesday night over the unusually public rift with his half brother, Prince Hamzah, justifying the steps he had taken to curb his brother's contact with the outside world, while asserting that the prince's "sedition has been nipped in the bud."

Divided Kingdom: Jordan Shaken by Split Between King and Ex-Crown Prince

A royal rift laid bare. Key figures arrested. Rumors of a failed coup attempt. An intense bout of palace intrigue has knocked Jordan's image as a reliable bulwark in a turbulent part of the world. AMMAN, Jordan - The kingdom of Jordan has long been considered an oasis of relative stability in the Middle East.

Women, 86 Percent Absent From Jordan's Work Force, Are Left Behind

"As long as women are absent from the labor market, they are absent from the public sphere," one advocate said. AMMAN, Jordan - Marwa Alomari's compassionate and patient style made her a popular English teacher, filling her classes in Irbid, Jordan, with eager students and her off hours with private tutoring.

Jordan, once a model of virus control, is now a hot spot.

Jordan, which was commended worldwide for its early efforts to counter the pandemic, has now become one of the hardest-hit countries in the region, along with Lebanon and Iran. The country has averaged more than 5,000 coronavirus cases a day in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database.

Microloans, Seen as Salvation for Poor Women, Trap Many in Debt

In Jordan, an unregulated microloan industry offers easy money. But with no way to repay loans, many women end up buried in debt, or in prison. RUSSEIFA, Jordan - Five years ago, Amira Hawamdeh took out a loan for $423 to buy buttons and yarn to make purses and sweaters, and winter blankets to sell to her neighbors.

International Policy Digest
Russia's Playbook for Middle East Energy Security

Nuclear energy diplomacy is a game of relationships. This is especially true in the Middle East, where governments face water scarcity, political and economic challenges but increasingly underreported energy scarcity. Civil nuclear offers Middle East governments an avenue to solving energy insecurity through new geopolitical partnerships that will change the political dynamics of the region for decades to come.

Home and Husband Lost, a Mother of 8 Fears Her Sight Is Next

The Neediest Cases Fund MAFRAQ, Jordan - Zina Satouf remembers seeing shadows in the street and nearly falling flat on her face. When she visited an ophthalmologist two years ago, he prescribed two kinds of eyedrops for her glaucoma. She often clutches them in her right hand.

Jordan Reclaims Lands Used by Israel Under Peace Treaty

JERUSALEM - Under internal political pressure, King Abdullah II of Jordan announced on Sunday that he was cutting off Israelis' free access to two tracts of land along the border that fall in sovereign Jordanian territory, but where Jews historically had private land use rights.

Syria Reopens Border Link to Jordan, as Assad Reasserts Control

AMMAN, Jordan - The Syrian government celebrated the reopening on Monday of a vital border crossing with Jordan as a new sign of President Bashar al-Assad's reestablished control over much of the country and of progress in his efforts to normalize relations with other Arab states.

Jordan Withdraws Tax Bill That Fueled Nationwide Protests

The decision to withdraw the bill, which proposed increasing the tax rate on workers by at least five percentage points and on businesses by 20 to 40 percentage points, was lauded by many in Jordan, where the official unemployment rate is 18 percent and poverty rates are even higher.

Jordan's Prime Minister Quits as Protesters Demand an End to Austerity

AMMAN, Jordan - Escalating economic pressures on Jordan threatened to turn into a political crisis on Monday, as the prime minister resigned amid nationwide protests against proposed tax and price increases in a country that has suffered through years of declining living standards.

Pence and Jordan's King 'Agree to Disagree' on Jerusalem

Mr. Pence had delayed his trip to the region amid the furor over Mr. Trump's decisions, which were seen here as pro-Israel and a slap in the face to Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, canceled a meeting with Mr. Pence planned for this trip.

U.S. Funding Cut Reignites Debate on Palestinian Refugee Agency

"We're reaching out to official donors, obviously, but also to the Arab world, to untraditional donors in emerging markets and to individuals, in the hope that we can rapidly upscale the amounts they give to us," said Chris Gunness, the agency's chief spokesman.

Rula Quawas, Champion of Women's Advancement in Jordan, Dies at 57

"An educational system should give empowerment, skills to think critically, creatively, intelligently, the ability to contest, to challenge and to say, 'I think not,' " Professor Quawas said in an interview with The New York Times in 2014. "The whole paradigm of teaching needs to change. We are graduating robots."

Jordanian Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing 3 U.S. Soldiers

They were part of a four-vehicle convoy returning to the King Faisal air base outside the southern town of Al Jafr, after conducting weapons training at a nearby range, according to a United States military investigation that was completed March 7.

An Uncertain Wait Ends for U.S.-Bound Refugees Stuck in Jordan

"Let's see, hopefully. Let's see, God willing," he said, looking pained and at least a decade older than his real age. "I hope so. Let's see." He was nervously smoking a cigarette outside the terminal, as his wife - whom he had told not to speak to journalists - waited inside.

'Dreams Die' for Refugees on Verge of Coming to U.S. as Trump Closes Door

They were among an estimated 110,000 people in line to be processed for resettlement in the United States during this fiscal year. In fact, they thought they had already made it through the rigorous vetting procedure and, after years of waiting, were on the verge of having their hopes realized.

An Iraqi Family Split by the Vicissitudes of Asylum

"It was like in the movies," Ms. Obaidi said in an interview this month. Fearing more attacks, the family left Iraq for Jordan. It joined many other Iraqi refugees, including extended family members. Ms. Obaidi and her husband used their savings to buy a home in Amman.

After Escape From Syria, Another Dangerous Foe: Diabetes

"I'm sorry," said Ms. Najjar, 26, wiping her eyes. Hisham, who is shy and has large dark brown eyes, left the room to play with balloons. "It's just that I almost lost him, not to violence or to war, but to diabetes." A few birds singing in their cages brighten the grim space where Hisham's family lives.

Victims in Istanbul New Year's Attack Came From Across the World

At least two dozen of the people killed were said to be foreigners. Most of the victims were from countries with Muslim-majority populations. According to news reports and government statements, the dead included citizens of Belgium, Canada, France, India, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

ISIS Is Said to Claim Responsibility for Deadly Attack in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan - The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a terrorist attack in the southern Jordanian city of Karak that killed 10 people, including the head of the military's special forces, according to an organization that monitors militant groups.

Cache of Weapons Suggests Gunmen in Jordan Were Planning Multiple Attacks

KARAK, Jordan - Gunmen involved in a rare terrorist attack in Jordan on Sunday had a large cache of weapons, explosives and suicide vests in the apartment where they had been living, the country's interior minister said on Monday. The discovery of the cache suggested that the men were preparing for multiple deadly attacks.

Gunmen in Jordan Kill 10, Including 7 Officers and a Canadian Tourist

AMMAN, Jordan - Seven Jordanian security officers, a Canadian tourist and two Jordanian civilians were killed by gunmen in the southern city of Karak on Sunday, according to a joint statement from the Public Security Department and the Jordanian armed forces. The security forces later captured and killed four of the gunmen, the statement said.

Writer Charged With Insulting Islam Is Killed as Extremism Boils Over in Jordan

Never mind that after an across-the-board social media backlash, Mr. Hattar quickly removed the cartoon, deactivated his Facebook account and apologized, saying he "did not mean to offend anyone." If the government hoped that arresting him would tamp down the anger among the more violent sections of Jordanian society, it misjudged.

Muslim Brotherhood's Political Arm Wins Seats in Jordan's Parliament

AMMAN, Jordan - Members of the political arm of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood won seats in Jordan 's Parliament in a symbolic comeback, and women increased their numbers in the legislature, according to results of parliamentary elections released on Thursday.

In Appeal to Voters, Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan Soft-Pedals Religion

Jordan stripped the Brotherhood of its license this year as well, but the Islamic Action Front, its political wing, remains registered and legal. Hoping to draw the Islamists into the system rather than leave them on the outside where they might grow more radical, the government adopted a new election law allowing bloc voting, reversing a two-decade-old system that worked against parties like the Brotherhood.

If a Carrot for Jordan Works, Syrian Refugees Will Stay Put

Europe is also promising over $4 billion in aid to several African countries in exchange for their help in stemming the exodus out of the continent. Even Sudan, long under European and American sanctions for its human rights record, is reaping money as part of the package.

Car Bomb in Jordan, Near Syria Border, Kills 6

AMMAN, Jordan - Four Jordanian soldiers, a police officer and a civil defense officer were killed on Tuesday after a car bomb exploded on the Jordanian border with Syria, according to a statement by the Jordanian Armed Forces. The attack took place around 5:30 a.m.

Finding Refuge in Jordan, and Adding to Its Cultural Mix

On a recent visit to Amman, we met some of the people who are changing the cultural fabric of Amman. In the window of the Abou Arabi Haider Damascene Gourmet Sweets shop sat an intricately terraced mountain of baklava, glistening in syrupy sweat.

Jordan Reports Deadly Attack on Palestinian Refugee Camp

AMMAN, Jordan - Three Jordanian intelligence officers and two employees of the service were killed on Monday in a Palestinian refugee camp in the capital, Amman, in what the government said was a terrorist attack. The government reportedly convened an emergency meeting in response to the assault, which occurred at 7 a.m.

Jordan Shuts Down Muslim Brotherhood Headquarters

AMMAN, Jordan - The Jordanian police closed down the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan on Wednesday, the group said in a statement. Warning that the closing would "bring us back to the days of martial law with the absence of law and justice," the group said it would take legal and political measures to combat "these illegal pressures."

Biden, on Jordan Visit, Meets With King Abdullah II

AMMAN, Jordan - Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. held talks in Jordan on Wednesday with King Abdullah II on a variety of regional topics, including the fight against the Islamic State. Jordan was the last stop on the vice president's Middle East tour, which also included visits to the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Jordan Struggles Under a Wave of Syrian Refugees

AMMAN, Jordan - King Abdullah II made his people an extraordinary promise last week: For every job the government offered Syrian refugees, it would create five jobs for Jordanians. But officials had previously pledged to create 200,000 jobs for Syrians, so the king's promise means that the government will have to create 1.2 million jobs.

Jordan Releases Muslim Brotherhood Official From Prison

AMMAN, Jordan - The deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Zaki Bani Rushaid, was released from prison on Monday after serving 13 months for criticizing the United Arab Emirates, a Jordanian ally, in a Facebook post.

Jordan Deports Sudanese Asylum Seekers, Spurring Outcry

AMMAN, Jordan - The Jordanian authorities on Friday deported hundreds of Sudanese asylum seekers, most of them from the war-afflicted Darfur region, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

Jordan Is Asked to Admit Thousands of Stranded Syrians

AMMAN, Jordan - The United Nations and human rights groups on Tuesday called on Jordan to allow the entry of thousands of Syrian refugees stuck in a northeast desert holding area adjoining the Syrian border. The United Nations refugee agency spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, said the number of refugees in that area had tripled to 12,000 since the start of November as the Syrian conflict intensified.

Hospitals Devastated in Syria, War-Wounded Seek Treatment in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan - Mohammad Smarat sat gazing at the few plants sprouting outside the entrance of the white stone hospital here, recalling how he had collapsed in a sea of green fields after getting shot. He had been helping farmers pick tomatoes near his home in Dara'a, Syria, when a stray bullet shattered his left hip joint.

Conflicts in Syria and Region Take Toll on Jordan's Tourism

JERASH, Jordan - The tour guides sat in a dusty white trailer a few steps from the main gate, drinking thick black coffee and smoking. There were 42 of them, ready to show a visitor around a world-renowned archaeological site in any of nine languages.

Main Syria-Jordan Crossing Under Insurgent Assault

AMMAN, Jordan - The main border crossing between Syria and Jordan remained closed and chaotic on Friday, with insurgents - including the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda 's branch in Syria, and Western-backed rebel factions - wrangling for control two days after they seized and looted the crucial gateway.

Despite Good Intentions, Vacancies in Refugee Camp in Jordan for Syrians

AL AZRAQ REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan - Here in Jordan 's vast northeastern desert, row after row of white steel shelters built specially for Syrian refugees sit empty. Storefronts lining a street designed to mimic an urban souk are shuttered, the silence broken only by the punishing wind that is infamous here.

Jordanian City Votes to Avoid ISIS Aesthetic

AMMAN, Jordan - Push brooms in hand, the sanitation workers who clean the streets of this capital could be easily recognized by their bright orange work suits. The city's mayor, Aqel Biltaji, even donned the municipal uniform in 2013 to help show Jordanians that there was no shame in a job that requires "dedication and loyalty."

Peace Corps Suspends Program in Jordan

The Peace Corps has temporarily suspended its volunteer program in Jordan because of regional instability, officials said. All 37 volunteers have left Jordan amid turmoil and terrorism in neighboring countries, Samir Dahshan, safety and security manager at the Peace Corps office in Jordan, said Sunday.

Jordan: U.S. Warns of Threat to Malls

The United States Embassy in Jordan on Wednesday warned American citizens to avoid high-end shopping malls in Amman, the capital, because of credible threats of terrorist attacks. The embassy's statement contained no information about the type or timing of any possible attack, but it advised Americans in the country and embassy employees and their families to avoid the malls in the next few days.

Jordan Gives Prison Term for Criticism on Facebook

AMMAN, Jordan - The deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was sentenced on Sunday to 18 months in prison for criticizing the United Arab Emirates in a Facebook post. The state security court, a special body that has jurisdiction over Jordan 's internal and external threats, found the Brotherhood leader, Zaki Bani Rushaid, guilty of "acts harmful to the country's relations with a friendly nation."

Jordanians See U.S. Reporting Bias in Coverage of Student Killings

AMMAN, Jordan - Whether three young students were shot and killed in North Carolina this week in a parking dispute or, as their families believe, because they were Muslims, online commentators here and outside the Middle East say the victims' religion makes it a hate crime.

Jordan: Jihadist Cleric Freed From Jail

Jordan released Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a leading jihadist cleric, from prison on Thursday, according to the official Petra news agency. Mr. Maqdisi, who was arrested in October, was accused of "using the Internet to promote and incite views of jihadist terrorist organizations." It is unclear why he was released.

Jordan Warns Militants Against Harming Pilot

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Jordan threatened the militants of the Islamic State on Thursday with "grave consequences" if they harmed a Jordanian pilot captured after his F-16 crashed in northern Syria. The warning, issued by Jordan 's Parliament, came as members of the pilot's family appealed to his captors to welcome him as a "guest" and to show him mercy as a fellow Muslim.

In Jordan, Ever Younger Syrian Brides

MAFRAQ, Jordan - The bride-to-be was so young and shy, she spent her engagement party cloaked in a hooded robe that swallowed her slim figure but could not quite hide the ruffled pink dress her fiancé's family had rented for her.

Friction Grows Between Israel and Jordan Over Revered Location

JERUSALEM - As Israel and Jordan neared the final stage of negotiations over their peace treaty, King Hussein of Jordan requested what Efraim Halevy, envoy for the Israeli prime minister, thought would be a deal killer: a clause giving Jordan a role in the future of Jerusalem and, especially, the holy place in the Old City that Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary.

Syrian Refugees, Once Stuck, Enter Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan - Hundreds of Syrian refugees, including women and children, who had been stranded for months in a buffer zone along the Jordanian border were allowed to enter Jordan on Thursday, according to the United Nations refugee agency and Syrians who were reunited with family members.

Jordan Executes 11 After 8-Year Moratorium

AMMAN, Jordan - Jordan ended an eight-year moratorium on executions on Sunday when 11 men were hanged at dawn. The men had been convicted of murder charges from 2002 to 2004, according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry.

Brotherhood Leader's Arrest in Jordan Is Seen as Warning From Monarchy

AMMAN, Jordan - Zaki Bani Rushaid, the provocative deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, has never been shy with his opinions. For years, Jordan did nothing as he railed - often on nationwide television - against Jordan's "meager" political reforms and what he sees as continued attempts to cozy up to the United States, which he calls "the cause of tyranny in the Middle East."

Christians of Mosul Find Haven in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan - They were among the final holdouts. Even as many of their neighbors fled the violence that engulfed Iraq after the American invasion, the three men stayed put, refusing to give up on their country or their centuries-old Christian community.

No Syrians Are Allowed Into Jordan, Agencies Say

AMMAN, Jordan - Jordan is refusing to let Syrian refugees cross the border, international refugee agencies said on Wednesday, expressing fear that thousands have been left stranded with limited access to food and other supplies. "We have not recorded any Syrian refugees crossing into Jordan in the past week," said Andrew Harper, the top official with the United Nations refugee agency in Jordan.

Jordanian Judge Killed by Israeli Soldiers at Border Crossing

JERUSALEM - Israeli soldiers on Monday fatally shot a Jordanian judge of Palestinian origin at the Allenby Bridge after the man tried to seize a soldier's gun and then threatened two soldiers with a metal bar, according to the Israeli military.

A New Liberty Sweeps Through Jordan Radio

AMMAN - As the sun rises over the Jordanian capital, the problems of the day start to stream in to Radio Fann. In the studio, producers scramble to keep up with calls and e-mails from listeners complaining about issues like water shortages and bureaucratic failures.

In Jordan, Educated Women Face Shortage of Jobs

AMMAN, Jordan - Twice a year, the names and faces of a select group of young women are splashed across the pages of Jordanian newspapers, their names written in bold, black lettering and their passport-sized photos adorned with colored frames. These are students who have achieved top grades in the general secondary examination, the test taken to qualify for university.

Jordan's Schools Buckle Under Weight of Syrian Refugees

AMMAN, Jordan - Yusra Shinwan, 44, and her four school-age children arrived in Jordan in June, refugees from the Syrian civil war. Her husband, a school librarian, chose to stay behind after being told he would lose his job if he left. More than half a million Syrians were registered with the U.N.

New Refugee Camp in Jordan Tries to Create a Community for Syrians

AL AZRAQ REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan - His face was bright red from the desert sun, and his son's eyes, blank with exhaustion, gazed into the distance. Bahjat Sheikh, 58, and his family had crossed the Jordanian border to safety after an arduous two-and-a-half-day journey, mostly on foot, from the central Syrian city of Hama.

In Jordan Town, Syria War Inspires Jihadist Dreams

ZARQA, Jordan - Late one night, Abu Abdullah left his whole life behind. Abandoning his wife, two children and a modest frozen foods business, he sneaked across the border to Syria to join an affiliate of Al Qaeda. He thrived on the blasts and gunfire and relished the feeling of serving what he saw as a celestial cause.

As Syrians Flee Conflict, Their Way of Life Follows

AMMAN - Two months ago, the most famous ice cream parlor in Damascus set up a new outlet amid the fast-food joints, stalls selling plastic household goods and offices lining Al Madina Al Munawara Street, a traffic-snarled road in Amman.

Resentment Grows Against Syrian Refugees in Jordan

RAMTHA, JORDAN - A few months ago, boxes of tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers blocked the entrances to shops in a bustling market in Ramtha, close to the Syrian border. Shop shelves were lined with boxes of cigarettes, and there were so many containers of goods from Syria that a storage facility was opened in the middle of the market.

In Jordan, Progress in Small Steps

AMMAN - The political turmoil in the Middle East over the last two years has not been kind to Jordan's king, Abdullah II, who has faced domestic protests and public discontent. Still, the king scored a tactical victory over his most serious political challenger, the Muslim Brotherhood, in last week's elections for the lower house of Parliament.

Syrian Refugees Strain Resources in Jordan

MAFRAQ, JORDAN - Shaking with fear, Abu Abdel Hadi tripped and fell three times in the dark as he fled across the desolate desert from Syria into Jordan. The 65-year-old was clutching his grandchildren, intent on shielding them from snipers who often lie in wait along the border.

Jordan Talks of Reform, but Old System Holds Sway

AMMAN - On Nov. 13, Amer Tubeishat joined several thousand demonstrators in central Amman to protest rising prices. As Mr. Tubeishat, a senior program officer at a nonprofit organization, walked away from the crowds, he was thrown into a police wagon and introduced to a frightening new world, where he had no access to a lawyer for three days, was prevented from using the telephone and was handed over to the State Security Court.

Arab Women Turn to Crafts as a Source of Employment

AMMAN - Through their eight years of marriage the husband of Suzan Qouqas would not allow her to work, even though she had studied to become a pharmacist. A year ago, she found herself divorced, with three children and no career.

A Parched Jordan Places Hopes in Reservoir

AMMAN - Jordanians took to the streets this summer to protest water shortages and disruptions. Some demonstrators burned tires and blocked roads while others carried empty plastic gallons in the street symbolizing the scarcity of water in their homes. Jordan is the world's fourth-poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, according to the World Bank.

Women's Rights at a Standstill in Jordan

AMMAN - On a warm day late last month a crowd filed into a white tent outside the royal palaces in Amman to hear a much-anticipated speech by King Abdullah II on the country's political future.

Jordan Struggles to Absorb Refugees From Syria

ZAATARI, Jordan - In Zaatari, the site of one of the largest camps for Syrian refugees in the Middle East, hundreds of girls sat this week in makeshift school tents provided by Unicef. In one, third graders were learning basic addition and subtraction. In the next tent, fourth graders brushed up on their Arabic vocabulary.

Jordanian Vote Reform Vexes Brotherhood

AMMAN - For Osama Hasoun, 23, protesting has become a weekly affair. Nearly every Friday afternoon, he prays at Amman's popular Grand Husseini Mosque. Afterward, he carefully folds his prayer mat, puts on his black shoes and blends into the crowd.

Jordanian Activists Struggle On

AMMAN - When the Arab Spring started, Safwan al-Ma'aytah, 30, posted photos of himself online, wearing black sunglasses and carrying large signs calling for political and economic reforms. Today, he and other members of Jordanian opposition movements say they are increasingly disillusioned by economic hardship and by regional violence across the border, especially in neighboring Syria.

Medical Outreach in Jordan Tends to Its Neighbors' Wounded

AMMAN - At a hospital in the hills of Amman, some patients have only one leg, others have no arms and most have been burned and scarred by exploding bombs. All have suffered complex injuries that require several operations, physiotherapy and psychosocial care.

Jordan Treads Softly Amid Rising Protest

AMMAN - For four days in a row this week, youths hurled rocks at police officers, burned tires and damaged properties in the ancient city of Salt, thought to have been built in the days of Alexander the Great.

Refugees in Jordan Return to Syria to Fight Against Assad

RAMTHA, JORDAN - Four Syrian women sat in a circle in a small apartment during the weekend, reminiscing about green fields and the homes they left behind months ago as their neighborhoods descended into violence and basic food supplies dried up.

Syrian Refugees Paint Fearful Scene of Home

RAMTHA, JORDAN - This impoverished Jordanian city across the border from Dara'a, Syria, has become a temporary haven for Syrians who continue to flee the violence that has swept their country.

Arab Spring Inspires Artistic Expression in Middle East

AMMAN - As scenes of Arab street protests fill his television set, Abu Saqer, a petty domestic tyrant, panics at the thought of losing control of his household. His daughter wants to wear a brighter shade of lipstick. His son wants to join the protests.

Jordan Struggles to Protect Children

AMMAN - A year ago, a video surfaced of a 6-year-old boy, Ahmad al-Saket, standing in front of a large classroom chalkboard crying, shaking and pleading for mercy. A teacher carrying a wooden stick in her hand is scolding him in front of other students for writing the number nine incorrectly.

Unrest Encourages Start-Up Funding for the Middle East

AMMAN - At a gathering of the Celebration of Entrepreneurship forum here this month, young Arab techies, some dressed in jeans, others in pinstriped suits, exchanged business cards and listened to advice from investors. The goal of these would-be entrepreneurs: to start local businesses that tap into a rapidly growing market for Internet and mobile telecommunications applications.

Jordan Girds for Influx of Syrian Refugees

MAFRAQ, JORDAN - In this northern Jordanian town, just a few minutes from the Syrian border, tall water tanks can be seen from a distance and an empty lot is encircled with barbed wire.

In Jordan, a Struggle for Gender Equality

AMMAN - For eight years, Nima Habashna has been garnering online support for the rights of Jordanian women to pass on their citizenship to their non-Jordanian spouses and children. When the Jordanian government - in response to the Arab Spring - scrapped an article in the Public Assembly Law requiring consent to hold rallies, Mrs.

In Jordan, Protests Focus on Prices and Economy

AMMAN - As Jordanians celebrated their country's independence from Britain 66 years ago this week, thousands of citizens came out to participate in the festivities. It was a shift from the more familiar scenes of strikes and protests, most recently over price increases imposed by the government.

Jordanians Seek Reform, but Protests Are Few

AMMAN - Alaa Khalil, 42, has been selling T-shirts and sweaters on a busy pavement in central Amman for 30 years. Al Husseini mosque is just a five-minute walk from his wooden tables and untidy mannequins. The mosque has been a focus point of nearly all the demonstrations here since the Arab Spring began.

Jordanians Debate Role of Press

AMMAN - A few days after police attacked journalists covering a pro-reform demonstration here in July, injuring more than a dozen and breaking cameras, the Jordan Press Association held a protest sit-in to denounce the attacks. King Abdullah II issued a statement condemning the attack and rejecting official restrictions on press freedom.

For Refugees, a Frustrating Feeling of Permanence

AMMAN - When Iraqi militias threatened Ghasswan Al Taee, 36, in 2006, he fled to Jordan. Five years later and with three children born here, his state of limbo has become a constant. Since 2003 an estimated four million Iraqis have fled their homes, the largest exodus since Israel's creation in 1948.

Jordan Tries to Remake Its Political Machinery

AMMAN - Ahmad Sami, 28, watched as cars passed by his makeshift tent, which he set up to sell watermelons. Mr. Sami's business opens early and closes late and so, he said, he did not hear about the recommendations announced Saturday on reforming politics in Jordan, including laws on elections and parties.

Jordan Takes Slower Path of Dialogue

AMMAN - Jordan 's political reform movement has gone quiet in recent weeks after demonstrations in Amman and elsewhere that ended in violence. A protest March 25 in Amman left scores injured, opening fractures between groups opposing the government and raising tensions between East Bank Jordanians and Jordanians of Palestinian origin.

Uneasy Balancing Act in Jordan

AMMAN - With unrest continuing in Syria, violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and repression elsewhere in the region, Jordan is trying to walk a narrow path of managed reform. The balancing act is not easy.

Iraqi Artists, Actors and Designers Try to Build New Lives in Jordan

AMMAN - Some pleasant memories of Essam Ali's Iraqi homeland still seep into his mind. He remembers the summer of 1985, for instance, when, surrounded by forests and friends, he trained in mime and pantomime in Mosul, Iraq, from dusk until dawn. Throughout that summer, until September, he seldom returned to his home in Baghdad.

Voices of Jordan Book Project

The Telegraph

The Telegraph
Iran pledges to destroy Israel within 25 years as tensions rise

A missile strike earlier this month, which killed seven Iranian military advisors from the country's elite Quds Force in the Syrian city of Homs, has been neither confirmed nor denied by Israel's government. However, New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that a senior Israeli military official admitted to him that Israel attacked the Syrian base known as T4, in a separate attack.

The Telegraph
Israel dismisses claims that Mossad killed Palestinian activist in Malaysia

Israel's defence minister has dismissed claims that Israel assassinated a Palestinian Hamas member and scholar who was shot dead in Malaysia. Avigdor Lieberman said it was more likely Fadi al-Batsh, 35, was killed on Saturday as part of "an internal Palestinian dispute." He also added that al-Batsh who was a scientist, was a "rocket expert and no saint".

The Telegraph
France warns of fresh humanitarian crisis in Syrian region of Idlib

"I'm so sad to see another chemical attack, and we expect to see it happen again and again," said Aya Fadl, who survived the chemical attacks on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib last April which killed more than 18 members of her family. "Of course the strikes were not enough!

Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
A Refugee Crisis on Jordan's Border

The war in Syria has forced more than five million people to flee from their homes. The vast majority of them are not in Europe. They are living in neighboring countries as the conflict in Syria stretches into its sixth year with no signs of abating.

The Huffington Post
Nima Habashneh: A Woman Who Fought for Equal Rights in Jordan

"It's easier to fight cancer than to fight an archaic mindset." Those were Nima Habashneh's last words on camera before she passed away this week. The 55-year-old Jordanian spent her last decade fighting for the rights of Jordanian women to pass on their citizenship to their spouses and children.

Women After the Arab Spring

Posted: The Arab Spring continues to blow winds of change in the Middle East. There is no doubt the direction these countries are heading in will affect Arab societies and personal rights. But recently, the focus has been on women in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

The Huffington Post
In Mideast, Media Caught Between Two Extremes

Since the 2011 Arab uprisings, there has been little doubt that enhanced access to information and news contributed to political and social activism, pushing the boundaries of free speech, even for a short period of time, to beyond anything that had been seen regionally.

The Regression Of Human Rights In The Middle East

Posted: With a high death toll in Syria, intensified sectarian strife across the region and a sharp rise in conservatism, it's easy to forget why the Arab Spring actually began. From autocratic regimes to deteriorating press freedoms to consistent corruption, the Middle East was, for the most part, decaying.

The Huffington Post
Investigating Truth in Midst of Arab Spring

Contrary to the saying that truth is the first casualty of war, the Arab Spring has overwhelmingly broken a barrier of fear that has presided over the Middle East for decades. Most people in the region are demanding nothing but the truth; they also participate by disseminating the news.

The Huffington Post
Searching for Arab Democrats

As I watch the Arab Spring, I recognize the road ahead will be long and difficult. While many Arabs are calling for democracy, the region continues to lack democrats, a key component for any political, cultural and social revolution. Two years ago I interviewed Khaled AlMajali, director of the Jordanian correctional facilities for a story on prison reform.

The Huffington Post
The View From Jordan

The country of Jordan is sometimes called a mosaic. It is literally home to one of the oldest mosaics in the world, including the famous Holy Land map. Symbolically, it is also home to many different people who fled war and turmoil in the region.

In Jordan, Some Regret a Missed Opportunity

AMMAN - Two weeks ago, Manal, 27, dressed in a black robe, walked slowly in a crowd of several hundred demonstrators - mostly men - carrying children, waving Jordanian flags or holding up homemade protest signs near the prime minister's office.

The Huffington Post
Defining Democracy

"Town meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it within the people's reach..." -- Alexander de Tocqueville, from Democracy in America. On a typical weekday, an ordinary woman from Hempstead, New York taught me an extraordinary lesson on the meaning of democracy.

The Huffington Post
American Military Interventions In Post 9/11 World

A year after the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York, former President Bush's national security strategy was clear: US interests triumph all else and international institutions would not hinder military actions deemed necessary. Therefore, when contemplating humanitarian interventions, the US would weigh the potential benefits--in terms of foreign lives saved--against the likely costs to the United States.

The Huffington Post
Worrying for America

Recently I met with Majed, an elderly Arabic schoolteacher in Amman, Jordan. Not long ago, he taught me Arabic, and we still meet occasionally to talk about the media in Jordan. He lives in a small clay mud brick house in Amman and has 10 children.

More Published Work

Protests in Jordan have led to a new prime minister-what happens next?

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Techno-utopian solutions to Syria's refugee crisis fall short

In a dull, pre-fabricated caravan in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp, a group of Syrian children marvel at brand-new laptops and tablets, tapping out words. In another corner, a clutch of youngsters, many in ragged clothes, watch cartoons downloaded from the Internet.

Published Journal Entries

Media Power Monitor
Plans to Launch "Public Service" TV Channel in Jordan Raise Eyebrows

Jordan's state television JRTV has seen its audience levels plummeting in the past decade. Its reform has never succeeded. Now, the government pledges to launch a new TV channel that would truly serve the public. But these plans are raising numerous eyebrows.

How to edit your story for accuracy

As a reporter, you must gather information and interview sources quickly, then explain what you've learned concisely and clearly. Once that's done, it's tempting to ship the story to your editor or hit "publish" on your blog. Resist that temptation.

Journal of Information Policy, Vol 3
JIP Vol 3: 2013
Rana F. Sweis, Benjamin Lennett, Tom Glaisyer

The true role of new communications technologies in the dramatic events of the “Arab Spring” in 2011 is still under discussion, but wireless communications were certainly used widely by activists and protesters. This article uses events in Jordan as a case study, and the authors argue that reform of that country’s spectrum licensing policies and speech laws is essential for future democratic progress and economic development. The authors combine research into Jordan’s emergent high-tech...

Digital media empower Middle Eastern youth

Revolutions in the Middle East have been powered by young people using new technology. Young people, who make up 30 percent of the region's population, have played a dominant role in protests and political upheaval by documenting events with cell phones, the Internet and social media.