Jordan’s Political Reform Recipe

Around 100 university students gathered on Saturday to review political reforms and means to improve their participation in civic activities. In a national conference on youth and political reforms organised by Al Urdun Al Jadid Research Centre yesterday, Jordanian students from four private universities presented their visions and suggestions for political reform. Inaugurating the conference, Minister of Political Development Musa Maaytah called on young citizens to take part in the Kingdom’s development.

“The ministry believes in youths’ role as an engine to make change,” Maaytah said, calling for the promotion of democratic principles in educational institutions. [source]

I was reading this short piece in the Jordan Times today and found myself laughing out loud. Yes, it’s insignificant news to the casual observer – several lines in a paper, a bare mention – but I saw a bit more. I mean here is an event that perfectly outlines the exact ingredients of a farce or a masquerade that the state has managed to fine-tune to an art form over the years. Let’s dissect this recipe for disaster.

First come the youth. This is the key ingredient. The base. As long as young people are there then we’re set. We are good to go. The conference of course is hosted by a ministry and its minister and that’s the second most important ingredient. If a minister isn’t there then this event is an utter failure. For added spice, inviting someone from the Royal Family to speak is always helpful for these events. Actually, it goes: deputy minister, minister, prime minister, a prince, or the King or Queen. The importance of such events is measured by that yardstick.

In any case, the guest of honor, must, as always, declare how important Jordanian youth are and how they should take part in the Kingdom’s development. Public declarations of encouragements are a must. But beware! This is in no way a reference to real political engagement because once those students become political then they’re all in trouble – and by the way, the students know it.

Then come the participating institutions who represent the other side of the dialogue. Of course, in order to have an essential dialogue about political reform and civic engagement, only government-run institutions get invited, right? I mean, you won’t see any “real” political parties here. After all, how well represented is Jordanian civil society without the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is arguably the largest organization of any kind in this country (including most university campuses). I doubt they got an invitation to this dinner party.

Then as the conference continues, an example of cooperation has to emerge. It’s a must. If no one presents an example then people might just keep on talking theoretically. In this case the topic was reducing traffic accidents. I don’t know how this relates to political reform.

Last but not least, something needs to be announced. You can’t have a conference without something being announced in Jordan, especially if the government is involved – even more so if youth are involved. Someone has to “call on something”. In this case, it was a call on establishing a “civil forum for youth activists”, which is code for yet another go-nowhere youth-related forum funded by tax payer money that will be a great place for youth activists to come together and talk cautiously amidst the lingering presence of a guy wearing a dark suit and sunglasses who sits in the back row.

And after all of that, well, then comes the press release for all to read.

For added taste-value, a picture of the minister posing with some of the youth.

Serves 6 million.

Bon Appetit!


  • 😀
    …while upsetting our stomachs, the recipe may actually have more detrimental effects beyond a masquerade. it’s not just about performing; it is about sustaining the largest (if unnamed and not formally structured) political group in the country, larger in fact than the MB: the status-quoers.
    ‘Youth’ are invited to be shown exactly what they can be (a deputy minister/minister/na2eb) if they acquire the right language, style of speaking, and apple-polishing skills necessary. Such conferences are training grounds (or breeding habitats) where such skills are presented. Youth delegates are given opportunities to fine-tune their skills. Those who master them… they will be the ones squandering our tax money tomorrow. The conference provides our future leaders with insight on how to do this. Inspiring.

  • Most governments try to rally the youth for change, but it’s mainly a smokescreen used to co-opt your idea’s and spin them around to make it look like it’s all about you, when in reality it’s all about them. They need a few new ideas here and there to keep themselves smelling fresh. So just stay true, spread the word, an over time friends turn into groups, groups into organizations, and organizations into political parties. In the end, the wind always blows the smoke away.

  • My view is that the youth need to step up and continue to present their views/ideas within whatever forums that are made available for them. It is definitely better than wasted youth on the streets at times with some wasting their energies in disturbances on the streets of Amman raking advantage of almost every political arising within our region.

  • what reform?? what exactly is political reform?

    we dont need a political reform. we need a economy reform. our problem is that tge whole country is broke thats it.

    solve the economic problem and no one will give a sh*t about politics. thats how the rest of the world is operating.

Your Two Piasters: