Just heard the news about an hour ago that Samir Rifai, who as of yesterday headed the Jordan Dubai Capital corporation, has been appointed as the next Prime Minister of Jordan. I don’t really know what to say about this piece of news. It is, from at least this citizen’s point of view, not the most optimistic news about the state of my country’s domestic affairs. It is something that gives me pause and it is news that makes me sigh disappointingly for several reasons that I hope to address later on. But, due to time constraints, I have nothing to offer as of this moment other than half-baked, first impression thoughts.
Hopefully I’ll come back with something a bit more analytical later in the day.
May God bless our country.
…A few hours after posting this I had to travel and I only now got a chance to check the comments and discussion evolving below. It’s pretty astounding to hear a lot of different voices from an interesting segment of Jordanian society, and that, to me, is a reflection of something that runs much, much deeper. At this point, I feel my voice has been fairly articulated in the midst of the ongoing discussion below, by several commentators.
The only thing I will add is that my disappointment over this appointment is made up of a variety of factors. We are a country whose only hope for salvation is to stem away from the tide of tribalism that has been the source of many of our problems – be it in the form of nepotism (wasta), the flawed electoral process, or in the guise of inherited positions. It is faulty on the part of any leader to preach to the public the values of democracy, meritocracy and even decentralization, and simultaneously appoint a man, who many will perceive to have inherited the position from his father, who remains a major player in the Kingdom’s legislative branch. Yes, Zeid Rifai has just resigned, but it took over four days for that to happen, which says to me that it took a while for someone to notice that a conflict of interest exists. In short, the signals the public gets are simply put, crossed, which leads to only one thing – an erosion of trust.
That said, I understand the difficulties associated with prime minister appointments, and regardless of what others might think or say, it is an important position in this country and it serves a noble purpose in government (it has yet to live up to that purpose but that’s another story). The problem is that, be it Samir Rifai or anyone else, I truly believe that it is this point who is given the helm to steer for a while is not as important as what we hope to accomplish from this journey. In other words, what is needed more than anything else is a dramatic paradigm shift in the way the political structure works in this country. The systems in place, or the lack there of, have been detrimental to this entire process. They are designed to be conducive of corruption and ensure failure, all of which falls at the expense of a single entity: the people.
At this point, any appointment of a prime minister and a new cabinet must come hand-in-hand with such a dramatic shift. Otherwise, two years from now, this same conversation will be taking place. The fall of yet another prime minister and the rise of another; the decline of yet another corruption-riddled government and the rise of another. And the cycle repeats itself.
Again, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Does Jordan’s political process fit that description?
Last note, while I’m glad to host the evolving discussion below, and while I’m content to not see any of those zillion “mabrook!” comments that seem to flood Jordanian news sites “out of the blue” (to say nothing of newspaper congratulatories – I just want to remind people to help me out by voicing their critiques without going overboard. At the end of the day, I will be the one held accountable for what you say.