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.
Mr. Ma'aytah even stopped protesting for a while this year -- but he was back on the streets last Friday in the southern city of Karak, where the government continues to face significant economic and political challenges, not least from the country's Bedouin tribes, the historical backbone of support for the monarchy.
Also last week, an Islamist-led rally in Irbid, north of the capital, ended in violence after activists clashed with pro-government loyalists and police.
Among the factors stirring up fresh anger in the streets, demonstrators and analysts point to comments attributed to King Abdullah II, in an interview published by The Atlantic, an American news magazine, on March 18.
In the interview, the king was reported as criticizing a wide range of Jordanians, including tribal elders -- whom he reportedly dismissed as "old dinosaurs," leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and members of his own family.
A press release issued by the royal court said the king's comments had been taken out of context, but did not deny the accuracy of the quotes.
"The tribes have long been the backbone of the regime and they have sacrificed their lives for this country, so it is hard to understand why the king would make such comments about them," said Basil Okour, a writer and founder of Jo24, an online news Web site.
After two years of regional turmoil, the steam had appeared to be going out of Jordanian activists' demands for political and economic change.
"At the beginning we had a list of demands about the types of reforms we wanted to see as a youth movement," said Mr. Ma'aytah, who belongs to the national youth movement, Hirak. "It was mostly about demands for more freedoms, economic opportunities and an end to corruption," he said in an interview. "But over the months, the movement has become weaker, our demands were not being met and employment opportunities are scarce. We are wondering if we have accomplished our goals."
Jordan's overall unemployment rate stands at 12.5 percent, and youth unemployment is double that, according to the Department of Statistics.
"The biggest challenge right now for Jordan is economic, but also there are external and internal factors that will determine the stability of Jordan in the near future," said Oraib al-Rantawi, director of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, an independent Jordanian research institute.
The conflict in Syria has sent more than 470,000 refugees across the border, straining scarce resources even further. Egypt's political instability and violence elsewhere in the region have added to the disillusionment, leading some Jordanians to question whether the revolutions that swept the region have produced any winners so far.
Still, protests continue, including among the tribes, despite the fact that their support for the monarchy has been repaid with a disproportionate share of well-paid and prestigious posts in the army and administration.
"We are extremely worried about the political direction and the state of the economy in the country," said Sheik Adel al-Mahameed, a tribal leader in the historically restive city of Ma'an, where several riots have taken place in the past two years. "We feel we are neglected here in Ma'an, even by the monarchy," he said.
For Mr. Rantawi, of the Al-Quds Center, the king's comments, and the reactions they have elicited, reflect a growing sense that the political leadership of the country has lost its way.
"The regime and the government are facing a credibility problem among Jordanians, who are growing increasingly apathetic," Mr. Rantawi said.
"There is a deep loss of confidence right now between the government, the regime and the people."
"Many Jordanians would generally agree with the king's statements in the Atlantic article," criticizing conservative supporters as obstructing reform, he added. "However, the way that the king said these words to the outside world was not appropriate. These are topics and debates that we should be having internally."
The king's comments equally offended Islamist opponents in the Muslim Brotherhood, which he reportedly labeled a "Masonic cult," run by "wolves in sheep's clothing."
Nimer al-Assaf, deputy secretary general of the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, said, "We don't believe such words would be said by the king."
"But if it's true, then we believe a big mistake was done," he added, "because we are part of this country."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.