The Beards And The NonBeards

Who do you trust these days?

The tug-of-war between the government and the IAF in Jordan is a traditional centerpiece of Jordanian politics. It’s a back and forth effort and it has just gotten to a point where one cannot trust either and it merely becomes a question of who can be trusted less.

There are moments when the IAF say or do something that is completely absurd yet at the same time, we don’t need to go through any cabinet’s history with a fine tooth comb to find similar moves.

But once something does happen the IAF will always move into a defensive mode and point the government’s seemingly anti-IAF stance as the reason for the party’s misfortunes. The IAF will say that the government is spreading rumors in order to marginalize it. This is followed by a week of the government insisting it has nothing against the IAF.

Then there are those other times: the ones where the IAF seems to be building some positive momentum in the background and the government suddenly makes a timely announcement such as the capture of Islamic militants in the country (including IAF members). The government will claim that the IAF has its interests and concerns vested outside the Kingdom, which is a not so subtle way of saying they’re anti-Jordan. This is followed by weeks of the party insisting that it loves Jordan.

It’s a rinse and repeat process that has been going on for some time now, especially these past few years. In fact, this very process has been playing out in the past few weeks, with only one addition: the IAF claimed the government has been trying to marginalize it ahead of the upcoming elections. It was a meeting between the beards and the non-beards of Jordanian politics.

Neither camp can be trusted in my opinion. There are times when the IAF must take full responsibility and be held fully accountable for its absurd actions, such as the decision by some of its MPs to call Zarqawi a martyr while taking a jab at the victims who died in the Amman bombing; in such instances (which are plenty) there is no scapegoat. Yet, there are other times when one cannot help but look at government announcements, actions, tone and language to be suspiciously anti-IAF.

Each camp uses the other as a scapegoat. Each group has different objectives with regards to the others. But erosion of power seems to top the list.

Playing devil’s advocate for a minute:

If the government is truly aiming to erode the popularity of the Islamists in the country its attempts have been futile thusfar. Governments that do not have the people’s confidence in the first place are in no social standing to go out and destroy the confidence in another political entity. It’s like casting stones from behind a glass house. The IAF will inevitably be playing the ‘government is anti-Islam(ists)’ card forcing a lot of people who were not for the party in the first place to edge slightly towards it. When elections come around the IAF simply repeats the ‘government is corrupt’ mantra to sweep up some popularity. In other words, when the government does target the party, it only ends up strengthening them.

I am personally not a fan of either political entity, but their frequent scuffles leave much to be desired in the area of trust.

In truth, the IAF is one of those parties that does not need help in screwing up.

But then again, the same can be said of any Jordanian government these days.

Though it is just a tad fun watching both the government and the IAF scuffle in the mud, dragging each other down time and time again until they are both tainted with the same dirt.


  • Well said. Here’s the thing: I think that the IAF are for more diplomatic and politically educated in their approaches. The IAF itself, is a more consolidated party than the government, and they are specialized in training their members on how to give public speeches, they’re more in touch with the local community, they are more involved, etc. So all of these factors help them become more diplomatic, and more politically prepared and aware.

    Hence, I feel that the government isn’t smart in its decision to go head-to-head against the Islamists, because as you put it, it will only bring the public closer to the IAF. Playing the anti-Islamic card is easy, and yes, it’s easier for your average Jordanian to trust in the IAF rather than the government. Also, the IAF positions itself as the opposition against the government, meaning two things:

    -The public will certainly not side with the government, because whenever it does indirectly threat the IAF, they flash the Anti-Islam card, and that’s just suicide in the Middle East.

    -The IAF sets itself as the opposition, meaning that it pretends to be the protector of the people. Because, one would assume that because a party is an opposition, then its interest would be the interest of the public (since we have this misconception that the government ultimately doesn’t have any interest in the public).

    Also, remember that the government only has two public faces: Naser Judeh (who I think isn’t really doing a great job; the Jazeera tape with Prince Hasan wasn’t an easy bite to digest) and Jordan Press Foundation (al Rai and JT). And recently, Al Rai and JT have been merely announcing one government-financed big project after the other, in an attempt to win the people’s hearts. That card will soon be exhausted, and the government will need to find more PR stunts to brew up. While the IAF, has stronger alliances through the weeklies and other publications. Ok, some of these publications are headed by Socialist figures, but still, we know that the Islamists and the Socialists come from the same background, and carry almost identical agendas.

    Naseem, you shouldn’t argue with trust, because khalas, it’s been wiped off from any Jordanian’s most wildest dreams. It’s not really a matter of trust, but it’s more of a matter of time. How long will this go on? I mean, khalas, give us a break for God’s sake? We have over 20 political parties, and our press is full with “the government” and “the IAF”.

    Honestly Naseem, the IAF isn’t marginalized, it’s just exaggerated. What has the IAF done for me as a citizen so far? I don’t want to talk about their political circus, I want to be more objective, and ask what have they done so far? Nothing. And the problem is, that we know that there is a certain group of people that vote for IAF, simply because they have no better alternative. Had the intellectuals and liberals of Amman stepped up, consolidated, and worked for the benefit of Jordan at large, rather than to achieve personal political ambitions, or disconnect from the political life altogether, we would have provided that group of people with a more proper alternative, and we would’ve saved the country this political circus. And statistics indicate that West Amman is the least participating group, so really, before we start blaming the IAF, or anybody for that matter; what have we exactly done to change anything?

    Nothing. And that’s what really pisses me off.

  • “I think that the IAF are for more diplomatic and politically educated in their approaches.”

    Well my friend, I can tell you you are wrong! IAF diplomatic?! Do you read their news paper? Do you listen to their speeches? Do you know that they put “east-jordanians” in the front who are moved by “hamas”, did you know that they didn’t rasie the jordanian flag until recently? Did you know that on the 25th of may they were in wehdat “comemorating” the nakba while we were celebrating the independence? I am not against this but to choose this specific day, I think there is a message!Did you know that lots of al-qaeda recruits are previous “brothers”? Did you know that they are a world wide organization holding the same alqaeda vision-but they decided not to use force at this stage? The list can go on and on, but I have to stop!!
    You gotta love the IAF!! take down the english signs!!

  • Moahanned: I agree on most what you said above, but I don’t think that it is fair to take that single statement from Hilals’ comment and build on it…not to forget that i have a very bad allergy form the “I can tell you, you are wrong.” statement!! 🙂

    I agree with you Moahnned, they done and still doing some stupid stunts, but try to look it from an abstract point of view and don’t focus on some certain events or brainless acts…I mean they are the only party that is capable of going head-to-head with the govermant..well that means they are politically educated, to a certain degree I guess!!

    Don’t miss understand me, I’m not trying to defend the IAF actions nor I’m taking sides.

    I don’t know “To my little knowledge” that theirs a political entity/group that represents Islam, its only individuals now. On the other hand, I don’t trust the government and I don’t take their official statements seriously.

    I read some of the statements exchanged between both sides; and you know what made me angry? Its how much both sides are not taking the public so seriously!! Some times I felt the statements are so stupid and so insulting to ones inelegance. I was asking my self do they really think that we will believe that? Or does that reflect how much they think we are unintelligent?

  • Bashar:
    😀 The argument that the IAF will gain more ground when the government “attacks” is not valid, the IAF has its people and the government has its people, and no need for me to elaborate more, so it all “drat 3l bala6” as a matter of fact the government was able to hurt the IAF when it uncovered that latest meeting and the underlying hypocracy of the IAF..
    Kol wa7ad elo zlamao 😀

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