Shoppers stroll along a street at a main commercial trading area in downtown Amman in this January 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Muhammmad Hamed)
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The shouts of street traders drown out the timid chants of the handful of activists outside the mosque in the heart of Amman where hundreds of people used to protest against Jordan's King Abdullah.Protests in the kingdom, where a Hashemite monarchy styles itself as a unifying force for a diverse population, have involved Islamists among Jordanians of Palestinian origin and "Herak" activists from tribes that traditionally back the king.Almost a million Syrian refugees have crossed into Jordan in nearly three years of civil war.Billions of extra aid dollars mitigating the impact of the Syrian refugee flood in a resource-poor country of just 7 million people also help to undermine Abdullah's critics beyond and within the tribal political and military establishment.Palestinians from the West Bank and further afield dominate private enterprise in Jordan and acquiesce politically in a system in which tribes from the East Bank of the river Jordan get state patronage in return for backing the king. In contrast to Herak, Islamist activists have strong roots among Jordanians of Palestinian origin in the big cities and have demanded fairer representation for urban communities – a platform which challenges the political prominence and financial subsidies enjoyed by the country's tribal power base.
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