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If change comes to Jordan, it won't start in Amman

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Essentially, analysts say, if protests can take hold in Tafileh, there's a good chance the foundations of the regime are shaky.

Many Jordanians downplay this argument, saying the demonstrations in Tafileh and other rural towns are purely economic, driven by high unemployment, and do not represent dissatisfaction with the political system – a contrast to the demands for democratization raised in large urban protests.

"The situation [in Tafileh] is very calm, settled.... Nothing serious is happening," says Rateb Al Mahasneh, a retired administrator from the Arab Potash Company and lifelong Tafileh resident. "For about two years now, there has been a group of young people demonstrating, and they are only calling for an improvement in the economic situation in Jordan."

Concerns beyond the pocketbook

But in Tafileh, economics and politics are not easily separable.

"It's not just about jobs," insists Ghazi Rbeihat, a prominent figure in the Tafileh protest movement. "This is a deception, when the media presents things in this way."

Mr. Rbeihat and other members of the Tafileh opposition do have economic concerns. The lack of jobs in the area is a problem, particularly the lack of government jobs, which have long been seen as the regime's way of paying back its loyalists. 

Privatization's impacts

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