Socialist Worker

Jordan: rebellion of the poor against food prices

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2072

The rising cost of food is hitting the poorest hard, creating shortages and kicking off a wave of protests.

In August shepherds in Jordan launched a series of extraordinary protests against a hike in the price of animal feed.

Hundreds of Bedou herders clashed with police after they blocked the country’s major highway with burning tires. The government’s decision to remove subsidies from animal feed sparked off the demonstrations.

The protest quickly turned political, with the herders shouting, “Why do government ministers get subsidies for their cars and trips to nightclubs?”

Similar protests were held outside grain silos, with protesters pelting police with stones.

After several hours the security forces attacked the herders with tear gas and batons.

The protest in Jordan came as the price of basic foods have rocketed across the Middle East and central Asia.

In Lebanon the price of vegetables and potatoes have risen by more than 55 percent in recent weeks, and the cost of a bag of bread – the basic diet for most poor families – has doubled.

Grain warehouses announced recently that they only have ten days’ supply of wheat left after the government said they could no longer afford to subsidise the grain.

In Egypt the price of fresh vegetables rose by 38 percent this year, fuelling a wave of strikes.

Last month in Uzbekistan hundreds of people demonstrated after bakeries ran out of bread. The price of staple foods have risen over 50 percent, while the cost of meat has more than doubled.


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