Samir Rifai Appointed New Prime Minister Of Jordan

AP PhotoJust 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.

Thought Is Free...

153 Comments

  1. I am curious to hear your thoughts on what makes this PM especially disappointing to you. From my limited understanding of how active monarchies work, to a large extent, and from a public policy standpoint, it does not really matter who holds the coveted post since the executive and legislative branches of the government ultimately need the Monarchs sign off. Which inclines me to think that legislative efforts originate from the top, are passed down to the houses of parliament, and then back up for ratification.

  2. What’s scary is that 5 minutes before the “breaking news” of Mr. Rifai as new PM today I received the “breaking news” that Mr. Lowzi would be the new PM. What happened?

  3. Why is it so hard for anyone with a significant background and vast interest in Jordanian politics to realise/admit the fact that there is nothing called “politics, domestic affairs or governance” in Jordan outside of the autocratic ruler, his police apparatus and his parasites?

    Hopefully, stripping down the theatre of the absurd from all the puppets and proxies that managed to keep people busy for the past decade should help expose the true puppet master using them as his scapegoats, and hopefully that will prompt more people to start questioning the real decision maker who dissolves the parliament, cancels the elections, and assigns a new government of cronies – while on a trip to Paris. Yet still manages to be exempted of any responsibility!

    Any empty calls for reform from those fantasising about it should begin with acknowledging the problem: a third-world dictatorship with every typical autocratic characteristic, that has no problem in stretching the limits of its absurdity to the farthest extent, while the citizens continue to do their best to find ways to live in denial – or to find excuses for a regime that is turning the corner from corrupted incompetence to Orwellian absurdity.

  4. There is a traditional saying in Jordan which goes by Teeiti teeiti, zay ma roohti zay ma jeeiti … Same sh– but certainly a different day …

  5. HA naseem, do you still believe the “state” wants “reform”? The state of affairs is way beyond disgusting..I knew it when I saw the pictures on the yacht this summer-the appointment of samir that is..

  6. I don’t always agree with you, but i have to applaud your bravery in this post, and maybe for the first time i will have to agree with you, which shows you how alarming things are.

    Samir Rifa3i was kicked out of the diwan over a fraud case which internal investigation found him to be guilty.

    Only in Jordan do thieves become prime ministers.

  7. We change posts faster than a Lady GaGa changes clothes. More political news for you…apparently Saed Khair passed away today in Vienna.

  8. Let me help with those coming thoughts:

    1-Why a son of a previous PM? Why not someone who climbed ladders with education, strong will, expertise in building communities, and hard sweat from the very many patriotic, intelligent, and hard-working people of Jordan? He was appointed several gov. positions at young age, which indicates that he didn’t strife long enough to prove grounds.

    Thoughts not related to Mr. Rifai:

    2- Do we have other candidates to propose?

    Is their anyone in the current Jordanian chronicles who we /the people/ can deem capable of leading our country to salvation? Let’s see:

    * He has to be a wizard to put down a fiscal plan that would enable us to repay our huge external debt as well as maintain expenditures and cover for that from our poor GNP and the thinning aids that pillar our economy.
    *He has to be a quicksilver multi-layered whip-smart character in order to manage our octopus-armed foreign relationships.
    *And he has to know what it’s like to scrap earth for a dime in order to know what his people are going through right now, and rise up to it.

    And I don’t see anyone in the horizon with a resume even close to that. Hell not even Odysseus himself would qualify!

    3- With regards to our government cabinet formations, disappointment comes from just standing still and watching.

    So many good, accomplished, and patriotic men have come and gone. A PM would be a good politician, but not a savvy economist. Another would be an excellent economist, but in theoretical fields inapplicable to our dilemmas. They were all given chances, but then resigned and were replaced.
    I feel that disappointment is the herald of every coming PM, Mr. Refai or not, because the others haven’t lasted long enough.

    Maybe, if our PMs are spared from the sickening referenda: the one hundred days in office, the one year in office,..etc, then they would be given ample time to try better reforms and innovative ideas.
    I feel that these polls aren’t objective at all, and those participating in them have no idea what they’re saying.

  9. This is what Bloomberg news has as a backgrounder on the new PM :

    AMMAN, Dec 09, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Jordanian King Abdullah II on Wednesday named Samir Rifai as the new prime minister, succeeding Prime Minister Nader Dahabi who submitted
    his resignation earlier in the day.
    The following is the brief introduction of the new Jordanian prime minister:
    Samir Rifai is the son of Zeid Rifai, who is currently the president of the Senate in Jordan. Both Samir’s grandfather and his father have served as the country’s prime minister for
    several times. Born in 1966, Samir Rifai received in 1988 his bachelor degree in Middle East Studies of Harvard University in the United States after studying there since 1984. Then, Rifai obtained in 1989 a masters degree in International Relations of Cambridge University in Britain.
    In 1999, Rifai was appointed Secretary General of the Royal Hashemite Court, where he was credited with implementing a major program of administrative and financial restructuring.
    He also led the King’s Press Office and Communications Department. In 2003, King Abdullah II promoted Rifai to the position of Minister of the Royal Hashemite Court.
    In April 2005, Rifai was appointed advisor to King Abdullah II, a position he held until he became the CEO of Jordan Dubai Capital in October the same year.
    Prior to being named as new prime minister, Rifai was the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Company, chairman of Jordan Dubai Properties, chairman of Jordan Dubai Energy and Infrastructure Company.
    He was also the chairman of Energy Arabia Company, chairman of Kingdom Electricity Company, chairman of MESC, chairman of Industrial Development Bank, board member of King’s
    Academy and a member of the Board of Saraya Aqaba. Rifai also formerly served as chairman of the Royal Committee to Promote Investment, chairman of the Amman Message Preparatory Committee, member of the Committee on Interfaith, member of the Higher Steering Committee for the Peace Process, vice-chairman of the Board of the King Hussein Automobile Museum.
    Rifai was also member of the Board of the King Abdullah Award for Excellence and Transparency in the Public Sector, and member of the Board of the Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, member of the Board of Amlak Mortgage Finance.

  10. This really does not look good to any outsider reading the news. The FIRST two lines in the above Bloomberg biography are:

    The following is the brief introduction of the new Jordanian prime minister:
    Samir Rifai is the son of Zeid Rifai, who is currently the president of the Senate in Jordan.

    But yeah, I applaud your courage for writing this.

  11. how come he is PM and his dad is head of the honorary counsel (equivalent to house of lords)? thats a clear conflict of interest between legislative and executive powers…

    this proves there is no hope for change – no one told us why Mr X came or Mr Y left or why Mr X will leave in a year nor anyone cares….just annual circus of appointing new government of 29 people, inflate the pension bill (They receive pensions for life), then appoint another 29…..

  12. As this is not favorable news at a first glance, but the main hope and effort shall be around reconstituting the legislative branch. Dahabi or Rifa3i doesn’t really matter except that it lowers the hope level for a real reform.

  13. one word can describe at least my feelings, disappointing.

    what I can say is our civil rights organization, political parties and public figures, should be prepared well to stand firmly and clearly against the untied government, as we expecting consecutive bursts of temporary laws.

    I hope we wont regret the moment when the x-parliament was dissolved.

    Anyway, good luck and thanks for Mr Nadir al dhabai.

  14. يا غنماتي ماع ماع شو طعميكم ماع ماع شو اسقيكم ماع ماع سم يهريكم ماع ماع

    مااااااااااااااااااااااااااااااااااااااع
    الخطاب الرسمي الاردني

  15. What happened to Naser Al-Lawzi? It would not have been a better politician who has been in the “game” for a longer period of time? I think this guy was appointed to prove the media wrong.

    I Don’t think it really matters. No-one person will ever change things. Let’s just hope he brings new blood (Ministers) to the government. I think the new Parliament is more important. Jordanians need to focus on not electing crooks when that comes around (when ever that may be).

  16. I love how these Ammon articles usually have a thousand comments from people posting their real names with “alf mabrook li shebl el urdun el asad!” or something like that.

    The fact that there are so many people with access to the internet and with means to express their opinions yet are only willing to kiss ass by posting useless comments, while so few are willing to participate in any intelligent or even coherent discussion about real issues whenever those arise (once in a blue moon) shows how much in deep shit we are.

    Every day I come to the sad realization that there is nothing, ABSOLUTELY nothing, that keeps a Jordanian attached to this country, except for his or her love of family and maybe the memories of the place he or she grew up in. What’s missing is the hope for a better future. I see no such future for Jordan.

    Not with its past, current or future governments.
    Not with its King,
    And certainly, not with its people in general!!!!!

  17. Sign of hope: for the first time all the comments on a local political issue seem to be taking the same side with a noticeable absence of the regime apologists.

    Frankly, his majesty is making it really hard for those who believe in his vision and wisdom to make a case for this appointment on his behalf. It is really hard to take the sequence of events over the past week seriously, without thinking that the whole think is a candid camera skit that will end soon.

    Maybe this is his majesty’s plan all along: to get people to lose faith in his ability to make wise decisions – prompting them to wise up and lead a movement of political reform from the bottom up. At which stage he can comfortably withdraw from dominating the local political scene so that he can spend more time travelling the world on his bike.

    Along the lines of that plan: next prime minister (around February 2011) is Basem Awadallah, followed by a monkey with a drum.

    The sad part is even when that happens, there will be some people praising his majesty’s plan for reform. Just as they did when he assigned Samir Rifa’i

  18. The funny part is that they are flouting his business credentials as part of the things that make him an appropriate choice in these difficult economic times. But he was born with a diamond crusted spoon in his mouth!!! Usually, a person’ s business acumen is only mentioned if it is the factor that has made him or her a successful business story, not when connections are probably the sole reason. It is like arguing that a monarch attained their position because of their leadership skills.

  19. Lawzi,Rifai,Zahabi or (fill in the blanks) it would not make any difference.
    It’s just that the whole political structure/government in Jordan is FUBAR ( F*** Up Beyond Any R: Repair)
    The government has been made exclusive to a specific segment of Jordanians regardless of qualifications.

    What’s the way out? Involving Palestinian-Jordanian meaning another Islamic-Brotherhood state across the border and a “Watan Badeel”. The past incidents of riots and killings were carried by the very same people who form the government since they have been used to getting jobs,respect and positions easily without working for it.

    Long term solution? Forget the 18+ generation.
    1. Fix the schools , teach them you are all Jordanian regardless of your background
    2. Lure back the hundreds of qualified Jordanians in the diaspora , they tend to be less involved with the local “political scene” which is a joke anyways.

    Guys, please lay down your solutions , enough diagnosing and speaking about the disease, give solutions.

    Or, you can always take the cowards way out and pursue a PhD and leave and use Jordan as a hotel/holiday destination and getting married and complaining about how horrible things are.

    The next faces of the Hokeemeh Rashedah? *Yawn* we lost faith (I hope someone is reading)

  20. Honestly, give Al-Rifai a chance.

    How much damage can a Harvard AND Cambridge graduate do our country?

    True, it seems absurd that both his father and grandfathers were both prime ministers as well.
    Although, take into account, that unlike most, if not all of the past Jordanian prime ministers, he is a young very well educated professional. He has experience in leadership positions, and knows the ins and outs of the Jordanian political scene.

    I’m preaching for the choices made, but what I want to say is that he is a viable candidate.

    Give it time, and I honestly believe that he will come through. I mean honestly, compare him to past prime ministers, he does bring a hole lot of hope with him.

  21. Replying to “Al-Urduni Al 7ur”,

    I would suggest reading Rifai’s CV. He was CEO of Jordan Dubai Capital (JDC), which has a value of over $1 billion, and is one of the huge companies heavily involved in the banking and real estate sectors in Dubai that DID NOT SUFFER.

    Why? Because of smart business initiatives by their management. He is indeed a liberal, and open market oriented, although, I do believe, seeing his success in previous lines of work, that the economy will develop.

    *Again, I am NOT trying to minimize of the absurdity of the political situation (inherited political positions), although when it comes to the economy and markets, I think Rifai should please us all.

  22. رداً على تعليق المتافائل You must be kidding me, Dubai or anything to do with Dubai is only a bad example but an insult to all of us Take this article In a sign that Dubai World may struggle to keep its prized assets, the sovereign wealth fund’s investment unit Istithmar lost control of its W Hotel in Manhattan in a foreclosure auction on Tuesday for $2 million, after buying the property for $282 million in 2006.

  23. لأردني الحر
    as long as we pay huge taxes on imports, and buy cars twice as expensive as foreign countries, there is no free market.

  24. Looking at Hend’s post: ” Why not someone who climbed ladders with education, strong will, expertise in building communities, and hard sweat from the very many patriotic, intelligent, and hard-working people of Jordan?” and then at the list recommended by Ameera, I can actually see many men who have become Prime Minister of Jordan, who came from relatively modest backgrounds : ie Bahjat Talhouni, Mudar Badran, Abdelkarim Kabarariti, Abdel Raouf Rawabdeh, Ali Abu Ragheb, Adnan Badran and Marouf Bakhit. I am not sure of the family back ground of many of the others, nor of the expertise of any of them in building communities, but the men I mention were certainly the first generation of their families to obtain a higher education and move into public life. In my opinion, it is as wrong to hold a person’s backround, ( whatever that may be) which in many ways is an accident of birth, against them. It is what an individual has made of his/her life, what they stand for, that is the real issue. This debate is going on in the United Kingdon today, with people pro and against the argument that David Cameron is not fit to head the country because he went to private schools and comes from a privileged strata pf society. Surely, the real is issue is about merit, ability, and honesty.

  25. just to clarify, I only posted background information to share, not to judge (and hence the disclaimer that the bio is from Bloomberg and it is not my opinion). I am not in a position to judge as I don’t know the guy, I was only trying to get know more about him before forming an opinion.

  26. however, I do think that someone’s background is essential in order to get to know them. By background, I mean what they have accomplished based on their merit and their starting point. No one can deny that it is easier to get somewhere when you are born in a family of PMs, but that doesn’t disqualify him, that just places higher expectations because your fight was shorter than that of someone who started from nothing.

  27. Wow. Some great comments here; I just wanted to share my insane, little theories:

    – I genuinely believe that the political happenings (or mishaps) in this country are beyond analysis, as such efforts are equivalent to and as futile as attempting to dissect and intellectualize the “brilliance” of Lady Gaga. I really think they’re all just random publicity stunts.

    – It saddens me to reach the conclusion that all of these cabinet shuffles serve superficial purposes:

    1) It projects the image that we actually have a healthy, vibrant political life, and shamelessly uses house shuffles to substitute real political activation and governance.

    2) It projects the image that we have a real leadership that has a vision for this country: trying to experiment with different cabinets until you get the “right” lineup that can rigorously work on translating your vision to actions, does not embody vision.

    3) It projects the image that there is a grasp of our needs, and a political will to fulfill them: seriously, so much emotional rhetoric has been spewed over the papers the past few days, it’s sad that we weren’t provided with an actual roadmap that clearly addresses the country’s problems, and how this political reformation will tackle the issues us mere mortals are concerned about.

    4) It projects the image that we have a leadership that actually gives a shit about this country.

    – Finally, the more I read blogs on our politics, the more I think shit’s going to hit the fan soon!

  28. Its unbelievable
    None of you guys are ever going to ever think of how HM always tries to do the best for his country and for his people, if he didn’t care then he wouldn’t have changed anything from the beginning anyways. Most of what you guys have been saying has been BS! With what Jordan has there is only a certain amount of work which HM and his government can do to help it, we barely have anything, we should thank god that we are living independently and freely, all because of the Hashemite family. When are you guys ever going to be happy with what you have, whenever his majesty tries to do something better, you still manage to want more!!
    If you think your soo smart then go do something about it!

    LONG LIVE KING ADBULLAH

  29. just a thought , nobody had mentioned

    cambridge and harvard educations & inherited positions, smells of an organisation that bush , winston churchill and others have been a part of . y’know, the secret society types with a name that implies sharing a similar craft
    maybe even part of the famous skull and bones society that graduates so many of these wealthy captain of industry who effortlessly rise and eventually get “given” power .

    all the signs are there
    anybody like to share a thought about this organisation with the strange and secret handshakes ?

    its just that the most oppressive periods in global history for a variety of countries , when power is absolutely controlled by such societies in all its branches. symptoms generally consist of artificial economic growth and drastic increases in wealth, however the majority of the population usually see no real economic benefit or enjoy any real upward mobility, just the cronies and fellow members seem to do hmmm i wonder if that might be the case of the past few years?.in dubai or the gulf of course not jordan no no no, we weren’t affected by any crisis whatsoever.
    i really hope that isnt the case to come in th near future , this i hope that the comment above mine’s no.4 clause will come to pass and not “give a shit” primarily about the lodge

    parliament may have been crooks and at best a light sweater akin to putting on a cold winter’s day . hindering the passage of government legislation(it was usually passed , however not without a usually ineloquent baring of dirty laundry in a monitored press) the thing is , when you have nothing but a thin sweater , i assure you it is miles better than going naked out into the cold.

    its easy to criticise, i know but i know also with the state of the current realities and immutablely unremovable obligations to persons and entities as represented in the official documents surrounding the make-up of our nation, stability is a good thing. s some people are doing their best but political reform should come with economic reform . both areas that without transparency are immensely difficult to build and strangely are dependent on one another. i.e. no one invests in a country that is in danger of a revolt (unless it has natural resources) likewise no population will not overthrow a government eventually if it is hungry.

    i owuld like to see a forum formed in an offical setting registered as an ngo to bring up these complaints and name and shame in order to change , but three main hindrances stand between that

    1)the cost involved , its very funny but the mega rich in jordan seem to be all supportive of status quo and i don’t see anytime soon that anybody would be able to give more than a few thousand to such a cause
    2) its articles of assoition would be rejected, censored and ifso meetings will be bugged and monitored as is the status quo , whne free thinkers come together

    3)even if we did manage to overcome 1 & 2 , and blew the whistle there is no single protection against whistleblowing to my knowledge in jordan. i rememebr of a parliamentarian who blew a tiny tiny whistle , and was thn made to be the criminal. people say she went about it in the wrong way, however in free and liberal socities i never hear that about people making press releases, there is no udgement on the method of delivery but hte actual truth of the commentary. re: the commentary was something i did not really hear about, only the incredulity of the act and method of whistleblowing.

    in liberal lands
    even counting america (she’s on the fence)
    criminals can go free on technicalities, and hiccups in the law. a father killing a rapist will be prosecuted there too . all are incendiary and seemingly idiotic flaws. however i disagree the ability to stick to a commitment to uphold a law , a senate , a house even in the bad times, gives an unfathomable degree of credibility to actions in the good times,

    i sincerely wish that my fears are untrue and that my hopes come true
    may god bless jordan

  30. Mousa ,
    I agree with you,just to remind you that the previous four chiefs of intelligent department were kicked by HM because they are “thieves”.
    All the previous PMs that the king selected are the worst that could be selected,but know his majesty is surprising us by choosing one of the worst that was well known about the corruption and also about his familys corruption. Just to remind you guys…
    Did you ask your self why the king kicked samir away previously,i will tell you why ask khalid shaheen and the story of aldisi project,do you want me to tell you more things,all the jordanian people that likes there country are sure that the king is not able to choose the right team to lead our country .

  31. I’m starting to become more of an “Optimist”. The guys certainly has the education. Maybe a politician is not what we need. Maybe we need an economist that can help straighten things up when it comes to Jordan’s shitty economy.

    I would like to hear the author’s feed back. He said he would post something soon but never did.

  32. Another day, another government. To the person who thinks (I use the term loosely) that the King is doing a great job, I can only say look around. Is this how a free and liberal society should act? Jordan is a border-line tribal society, where a few select tribesmen control all, regardless of ability. What attempts at a meritocracy will always be thwarted by people who benefit from the status quo.
    Jordan has not been able to offer anything proper to its citizens in terms of treating its citizenry like adults. Then again, why should this not be the case, when we have a constant team of cheerleaders ready to drown out any hint of real thought.
    It boggles the mind.

  33. LOOOL @ “How much damage can a harvard graduate do to our country” haha well George W Bush had an MBA from Harvard, and he did enough!! haha…certificates mean nothing, what you need to TRANSFORM a country is charisma – leadership & vision – experience: charisma to make people join your journey, leadership & vision to draw the roadmap of the journey, experience in policy making, handling conflicts and crises etc.. as far as i can read Samir Rifai work experience is: worked in the govt all his life (in the royal court so no executive experience), then joined a local private equity house in jordan half-funded by dubai which to date made 4 investments (electricity mainly)…IF THATS ENOUGH EXPERIENCE TO BE A PM, then i can tell you at least half a million jordanians are qualified to be PM…

  34. Optimist,

    “I would suggest reading Rifai’s CV. He was CEO of Jordan Dubai Capital (JDC), which has a value of over $1 billion, and is one of the huge companies heavily involved in the banking and real estate sectors in Dubai that DID NOT SUFFER. ”

    what you said above is 100% FALSE, so check your resources before posting stuff. Jordan Dubai Capital is a JV between different jordanian parties and Dubai Int Capital. JDC has ZERO presence or investments in Dubai, how can you say its involved in banking and real estate in dubai?! it has ZERO. all they have is ownership in electricity company in jordan and an islamic bank in jordan and some stakes here and there in jordanian companies. You are clearly confusing JDC with its half owner Dubai Int Capital. And DIC as part of dubai holding group is suffering lossess of billions in dubai especially in real estate, which they tried recently to merge with Emaar but it failed. And I dont know where you bring “its value over $1bn” from, its a private equity firm in jordan with no disclosed financials….

    so i dont care if you want to inflate the new PM and make him sound like a rocket scientist as the rest of government media in jordan trying to do, but at least you should not go that far in posting FALSE information, do some research….

  35. I REST MY CASE! the only country in the world with such a blatant conflict of interest between legislative and executive powers….

    وكان الاعلان عن تعيين الرفاعي رئيسا للوزراء في الاردن شكل مفاجأة حتى للمسؤولين الاردنيين، حيث كان العديد من هؤلاء المسؤولين توقعوا ان يتم تعيين رئيس الديوان الملكي الحالي ناصر اللوزي لهذا المنصب وان يتولى الرفاعي منصب رئيس الديوان الملكي. وسبق تعيين الرفاعي رئيسا للوزراء اعادة تعيين والده زيد الرفاعي رئيسا لمجلس الاعيان من قبل الملك عبد الله.

    ويومها اعتبرت الاوساط السياسية ان تعيين زيد الرفاعي رئيسا لمجلس الاعيان يجعل من شبه المستحيل تعيين ابنه على رأس الحكومة، معللة الامر بان الدستور ينص بوضوح عن ضرورة الفصل التام بين السلطات التنفيذية والتشريعية والقضائية، وان مهام السلطة التشريعية (مجلسا النواب والاعيان) هي رقابة ادء الحكومة

  36. Lets give the guy a chance! What about the kennedys, Bushes, Clintons , The president and PM of Poland ( fyi both brothers!!!) It happens all over the world. I have hope in this man, he speaks the lingo of today, we don’t want dinasaurs, its ancient history. We need to follow the world, with dinasaurs we’ll never get anywhere in this day and age.
    Its good we have a lot of change, instrad of keeping ppl in their positions doing nothing, and getting applause from the ppl because they played it safe, made no progress, didn;t improve and introduce new laws. Lets give him a chance, the least we can do.

  37. Rand in poland the president (Executive) appointed his brother as PM (executive), which is not against constitution…here we are talking about a father heading the legislative branch whose job is to question the executive branch head by his son…

  38. Look around you at the great things that happened for this country in the past decade? Please people don’t become bitter and full of negativity. We improved so much in the last 10 years, and walk around and you can see the fruits of all the efforts HM and the country has done. Remember we’re a 3rd world country, and we’ve come along way. Take a walk down the streets, look around you and think : ihna bi kheir compared to the countries around us and in this region. Hamdullilah we are blessed with security, and our thoughts and opinions are heard, at least you can express yourselves unlike in many countries… we’re striving to become a great nation, but with positivity. Lets be positive and give people a chance.

  39. You should be happy MH doesnt keep his ministers for 20 years to rot in their seats, at least hes trying to fix things, look at the world around you and thank god you’re families are safe… Jordan is a refelction of what you do to it. We can make it happen together with positivity.

  40. To all of you, I think what Rand is saying has some truth to it.

    Democracy CANT be achieved over night. Give it time. Have some faith. Rifai is a man that is open minded, he is a technocrat and does know what he is doing.
    I mean, there are no shiny stars in the Jordanian political arena, and no matter is was appointed mounting amounts of criticism will pile.
    Perhaps in this case the criticism is greater because of the status of Zaid Al Rifai, his father.
    He is a young professional, give him a chance.

    I AM NOT AN ADVOCATE of HIs Majesty, and disagree with a lot of the policies he instills and believes in. Although, I honestly believe that Rifai’s appointment is a step in the right direction.

  41. “George W Bush had an MBA from Harvard, and he did enough!!” Nope, he went to Yale !

    “cambridge and harvard educations” . Nothing wrong with a good education. It is what you make of it. Anyway, correct me if I am wrong, but Churchill never went to University at all ! To object on principle to an education at prestigious institutions sounds slightly chippy. Many of the past and present movers and shakers of the Arab world are totally without any education at all…..the late Saddam Hussein and Mr Ghaddafi sping instantly to mind.

  42. Rand – “Please people don’t become bitter and full of negativity. We improved so much in the last 10 years”

    then why did we change governments like 12 times in 10 years if its going so well!!! why cant we keep the same team in charge if they are doing so well? wake up please we have no parliament i.e. democracy paralysed, budget deficit ballooning, poverty and unemployment the same since 1990 despite all talk of investments, and despite all talk hardly seen any corruption cases go to court…lets not go to “look around you” mentality as you cannot compare us to Egypt (80mn people) or Syria…we are who we are and the way the media describes our situation you would think they are talking about Switzerland…

    and “Security” is a our right, nothing for us to be grateful to the government about, we dont have to be iraq to be normal!

  43. Rand,
    what is the security,just go out side amman and see the security.Why always we are comparing our selves with the neighbor countries,i beleive that jordanians deserve better.Look at turkey,because they didnot compare themselves to their neighbors,instead they wanted to join the EU,even they did not make it,they are the best in their neighbors .

    HM and his wife are spending our countrys money as if we are a rich country,no need to buy villas for your stuff in the diwan,no need to give expensive lands to your stuff,no need to make comittees who are taking high salaries and working nothing ,no need to…..

    (this comment has been edited by the blog owner)

  44. Ok, I have to write another comment, and this time I want to stress the last line in my previous comment.

    The real reason we will never be happy with a Jordanian government because we in Jordan have no real mechanism, be it formal or informal, to develop leaders from the bottom up.

    Actually, we do have a formal way of doing that. Our constitution does allow for people to participate in the political process through elections, and it allows for the king’s chosen PM to be voted for or against by the parliament.

    However, our informal mechanisms completely hinder this process. Our culture and traditions of tribalism and nepotism make sure the people (not the King) rarely pick the right man for the position. Some of our MP’s, who will return in the next parliament, could not even read properly!!!

    When faced with this scenario, who can the King choose? Really he is left with the choice of picking someone from the same pool of people who were either close to him personally, or were voted for by people in parliamentary elections consistently in the past.

  45. Guys, Harvard, Jordan or Zarga University this is not the issue.
    It is not about who is running the show .The whole thing is worse than the Titanic, no matter who is behind the wheel, we are going no where. Are there any good Arabic Jordanian blogs out there? Great comments and discussions here, but are they reaching the masses?
    I strongly believe we have a serious issue in loyalty and pride of being Jordanian. Some think it is about wearing the red hatta and rooting for Faysali, and others don’t give a darn and look for the moment to fled while doing what ever it takes to destroy and litter public facilities.

    Well having the newly PM starting a blog or tweeting pleases you guys? Amazing how we have two separate Jordanians, you who are commenting here, and the rest, and the rest are 99%. It is not Rifa’s fault, it is the 99% and the 1%.

    Of course it will be a Rifa or any of the other crew, because there is no one else!

    I challenge anyone here who could come up with any name suitable for this position? We don’t have at the moment. We need 20 years of fixing the political and educational system to develop a mature society.

    At the moment, Rifa is the best out there. Just name anyone else suitable from any background and I’ll give you 1000 JD (after taxes is comes up to 20 leera)!

  46. At the moment, Rifa is the best out there. Just name anyone else suitable from any background and I’ll give you 1000 JD (after taxes is comes up to 20 leera)!

    Marwan Muasher, the accomplished diplomat, politician, first ambassador to Israel, and ex-minister and deputy prime minister, author of “The Arab Center”, current Sr. VP of the World Bank, and most importantly, the creator of Jordan’s National Agenda, which was the first serious effort to draw a long term plan (longer than 5 years) for Jordan’s development across economic, social, and political dimensions.

    I expect JD1000 to be deposited in my PayPal account by the end of the day (don’t worry, I’ll take care of the taxes myself) :D

  47. well, Mr Rifai did not bring any new names, or any new mechanisms in selecting the new minister,
    I would like to point for a masterpiece article for Fahad Alkhetan in Alarab Alyoum today.

    Honestly, at the moment when Al Rifai was appointed people started guessing names, most of the names I hared in the first hours are the names who are being circulating between newspapers now and visited the 4th circle. we will witness a flow of x-royal court employees to the cabinet, Is it bad or good?, I think its a double sword; in one hand, we will have a homogeneous team, people who know how to work with each other and have common background, Also, this team would be able to implement HM vision for economical and structural reform since they have worked with HM before, people might argue that having good team work attitudes wont guarantee success, this is true, however, its still necessary for success, at least we wont end up with ministers refuse to meet each other in order to balance the crumbled budget, which has occurred between finance and planing minsters in Aldahabi cabinet .

    On the other hand, selecting minister from the same old circle the surrounded alrifai in the last few years shows that competency was not the criteria in forming the cabinet, which implies the first contradiction with HM letter.

    I know it might be too early to judge the creation of the team, but discussing it is just an example of the political talks that fill Jordan’s long winter nights.

    Last point, having low expectations from this Alrifai is good for him, anything he will achieve will be exaggerated and considered above average.

  48. Here is what should happen:The unaccountable must be held morally and politically accountable-The decision maker should,no MUST be responsible both morally and poitically for the outcomes of decisions made by that entity. In the last week the constitution was both absent and shamelessly disregarded.

    Plus there is this elitest mentality when it comes to treating us, jordanians, as true citizens. There is this belief which I believe is held by the powers that be, that we are less than capable of making rational decisions, as if they(i.e. the powers that be) are in a better “position” to both think and decide for “us”, when in fact they are deciding and thinking about themselves. Plus the intetional blurring of the term “the state” made “loyalty” even more difficult to grasp and comprehend in a society that puts so much unnecessary focus on such distractors.

    Lets just “hope” the rifai junior won’t end his term like his father did..

  49. Our grandparents used to say:
    سنة سمير، لا قمح ولا شعير

  50. Nas, what trail of corruption charges surrounding the new prime minister were you referring to? My own perception is that this guy has a clean slate.

  51. لا سمير الرفاعي ولا علنتان عندهم القدره على حل المشاكل المعقدة والمتراكمه منذُ أكثر ستة عقود ،هناك حلول جدريه وموئلمه ،الحل ا

    لاول الرجوع الى حكم الشعب أي الرجوع الى الدستور ماقبل ١٩٥٦

  52. “At the moment, Rifa is the best out there. Just name anyone else suitable from any background and I’ll give you 1000 JD (after taxes is comes up to 20 leera)!”

    OMG! are you serious? well lets turn the question around, can you tell us please why a 43yr old who was never elected into ANY position, nor worked in ANY governmental executive position (only in royal court), with ZERO work experience in social development, economics, or foreign policy (he went straight from royal court to a private equity firm) – why is this Messiah the best qualified man to lead jordan out of 6 million people inside and millions abroad? geez some people are seriously delusional…

  53. Londoner.
    I am not saying he is the messiah. I think you did not completely understand what I meant.
    Given the reality of the Jordanian society and the political life, your very in-experienced as you mention and controversial PM is sadly enough the best candidate, nevertheless anyone else would have been deemed the best too, because they are all ………
    You see, the challenge is still valid, no one could come up with any name. Mua’sher is not suitable as he is Christian, and basically he is not much different of Rifa.

    The mess we have today is a result of decades of a partisan system.

  54. Hi guys i salute you for the intelligent skeptical comments am reading here.

    Jordan is heavily in debt, this is not due to our scarce resources (look at cuba and venezuela), its due to the unwise destructive decision making people appointed so far.

    Jordan is neither free nor independent, its just that occupying a nation has now taken a new modern figure called DEBT. I really feel sad when someone keeps praising our leadership that has got us to where we are.

    oppression of qualified skeptical decision makers, lack of free speech, and barriers for development are all indicators of anything but freedom, dignity, and wise leadership.
    WE need to become free from debt in order to move forward. I am wondering why don’t we have a sovereign wealth fund (created by the tax payers money) that would free us from debt. our country should change its tax system by raising the tax rate for those who make 250,000 + JDs. If such initiatives are going to be taken, then I guess that this PM might do us some good since we would be matching his experience with the position given to him.

    I hope to hear some constructive thoughts and solutions from all of you guys

  55. Research.
    cuba and venezuela’s leaders are not going by americas way, and they dont want american companies controlling the natural resources. so they get bashed and presented as nothing short of terrorists in the media. it has nothing to do with unwise decision making people.

    taxing the wealthy is even discussed in america, but if you do it here then no one will invest a penny in jordan.

  56. ok i just looked at the new minster list and pretty much half if not 75% are ex-ministers, so forget all talk of reform, apart from 1 or 2 bright names (Emad fakhoury), and about 10 are from the outgoing government that was in place for 2 years! so bury all talk of reform not to get dissapointed lol

    وفيما يلي قائمة بالأسماء المتوقع دخولها الحكومة الجديدة رجائي المعشر نائبا لرئيس الوزراء وزير دولة للشؤون الاقتصادية،
    نايف القاضي نائبا لرئيس الوزراء وزيرا للداخلية. ناصر جودة وزيرا للخارجية، الدكتور نايف الفايز وزيرا للصحة، موسى المعايطة وزيرا للتنمية السياسية، أيمن عودة وزيرا للعدل،جعفر حسان وزيرا للتخطيط والتعاون الدولي، الدكتور محمد أبو حمور وزيرا للمالية ، مروان جمعة وزيرا للاتصالات وتكنولوجيا المعلومات. الدكتور وليد المعاني وزيرا للتربية والتعليم .الدكتور سلطان أبو عرابي وزيرا للتعليم العالي، الدكتور خالد طوقان وزيرا للطاقة.خالد الإيراني وزيرا للبيئة، عامر الحديدي وزيرا للصناعة والتجارة، هاله لطوف وزيرا للتنمية الاجتماعية، مها الخطيب وزيرا للسياحة، عماد فاخوري وزيرا لتطوير القطاع العام والمشاريع الكبرى،المهندس سعيد المصري وزيرا للزراعة،المهندس علاء البطاينة وزيرا للنقل، الدكتور محمد طالب عبيدات وزيرا للأشغال،
    وترددت اسماء عدد من الشخصيات المرشحة لدخول الحكومة منها : الدكتور أنور البطيخي، المهندس عامر المجالي، المهندس محمد النجار

  57. Let us just wait and see who he picks for his team and then we might be able to dissect further?–Great discussion thus far! I hope that this will continue, as I am sure that it somehow does contribute to helping us all improve our Jordan–again, the Law of Unintended Consequences at play…

  58. Answering my friend Tero,

    I do realise that those countries aren’t really enjoying what the media says about them, but my point is why is it that SCARCE RESOURCES = DEBT, this is why I blame the jordanian decision makers. What Venzuela rejected is debt, debt was the mean by which they could’ve controlled Venezuela’s naturals. Debt free growth and by that I mean avoiding political debt and not corporate debt should be one of the top priorities on our decision maker’s agenda.

    Raising tax rates for the wealthy, this doesnt really have to clash with attracting foreign investments. There are many ways by which we can achieve prosperity for all classes, why dont we raise the fees for public education at our universities were the wealthy would pay more than the <6000JDS a year citizen or atleast raise the fees for the wealthy and give them their money back in the form of a tax bracket which has proven to give the government more power & flexibility as far as subsidies are concerned. We just need to throw in 2 or 3 socialists in the law making environment to put things in balance.

  59. research
    you are talking like there are alot of wealthy people in jordan. the sample you are talking about are only %2 in this country.
    however i agree that there should be a tax system based on the income of each citizen.

  60. the one thing I don’t understand is: Jordan is going through a tough year economically. We have a widening budget deficient, i.e we are more in debt. But I am not sure I understand why the blame is almost exclusively pointed at the previous cabinet. Jordan’s saw a drop of more than 70% in aid and foreign grants this year because the donor countries were not doing so well themselves. Therefore, instead of receiving almost a billion in grants this year (which we usually do), we received somewhere around 300MM USD only. I guess the previous cabinet could have made a stronger effort to combat this problem since I assume they were aware than Jordan won’t be receiving as much aid, but it doesn’t seem right to completely blame them for this problem.

  61. Is there any remote chance that his majesty is not sure what is he exactly doing – just hypothetically speaking.
    After all we know these as facts:
    1. He was never groomed to take over.
    2. He never showed outstanding intellect – as evident by his modest educational “achievements”
    3. He is surrounded by an incompetent group of advisers who are either beneficiaries or yes-men.
    4. He is not exactly fully-invested in this leadership thing and spends a significant time travelling the world and pursuing other hobbies.

    Of course,one can add tens of other evident qualities typical of any autocratic dictator who led his people while assuming the role of the saviour, visionary and deity, only for the people to realise that their infallible unquestionable grandmaster was nothing more than a human being – sometimes a below average one no less – who could be clueless at times. And that usually happens when it’s too late.

  62. Beryl,
    Samir Rifai was “up” at Cambridge “getting” his Masters. He then worked for Crown Prince Hassan in his Private Office, as his Private Secretary from the late 80’s throughout the 90’s (no longer the Crown Prince), a post he dumped as soon realized that he was not backing the right horse, and callously “switched camps”, where he was promptly appointed Chief of The Royal Court…that’s why there’s no mention of it.

  63. the biggest joke is that there is a minister for “parliamentary affairs” when there is no parliament for the next 12 months at least! lol

  64. Nas,
    I think if you are worried about the consequences of others’ posts, it is worth your time to clarify what is permissible or not. The word “overboard” does not constitute a limit. either people will say what they can say, or not. More significantly, it is worth your time to review the legal situation (if such a thing exists) of this issue in Jordan.

  65. Nidal: I would love to review the legal situation, however, as you might already know, this is quite unknown in Jordan as there is nothing written down on paper guaranteeing my and your free speech, be it online or offline. We have various assurances from the powers-that-be, but as you can see from the context of this post and the discussion, governments shift quickly in this country, as do laws, rights, red lines and, subsequently, consequences. with all this in mind, it is difficult for me to clarify what “is” permissible and what is “overboard”. i can only ask that people voice their criticisms in a healthy and professional manner.

    thanks

  66. Can I suggest that we all count to ten and give this new cabinet a chance to get to work. they are what we have now, and from what I can see, it has as many good or bad or unknown as any Jordanian cabinet. They might even surprise us ? With hindsight, the various cabinets from 1973 till the end of the 1980s were not that different in their make up, but arguably, a lot of infrastructure was out into place, and many good projects were created and completed. I think the reason for this was because the governments of the time worked to set goals and criteria, and were not hindered by an obstructive and partisan parliament, or indeed, by any parliament at all. Before people say what projects, I would like to point to the Port of Aqaba, The Sports City, The King Hussein Medical City, The Queen Alia International Airport, The Royal Scientific Society, The Potash Plant, The Dead Sea and Aqaba Roads, as well as huge network of other roads throughout the country, Yarmouk and Muta Universities, and well as the Universioty of Science and Technology, as well as the revitalisation and electrification of the Jordan Valley. There are probably a whole lot of other things I have not mentioned and do not even know about. All of this was for the good of your average Jordanian citizen, and none could be regarded as “elite” centred. It is also wrong to under estimate the pressure on Jordan at many levels after the first Gulf War, never mind the more recent invasion of Iraq with the fall out that brought, poltically and demographically. Along with wasta, one of the less attractive Jordanian characteristics is a negative attitude to life.

  67. susie,, With all due respect , I have to tell you ,you are going to be disappointed when the king maybe next year will find scapegoat to blame the failure of this undemocratic and unconstitutional government that he selected in the first place.. Good luck Jordanians with this defunct system of governance..

  68. @ Ameena:

    Your figures for aid to Jordan in FY 2009 are wrong, USAID funding to Jordan is a little above the 500M USD mark for FY2009. And that is just USAID. ” …bringing the total US economic assistance to Jordan for the year 2009 to $513.5 million.”

    To add: “Al-Ali said that the total economic support to Jordan in the form of grants from the foreign donor community is expected to reach $786 million in 2009, up from $719 million last year.”

    Source: from :http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=20302&searchFor=usaid

    Despite this, I don’t want to dissagree with your point because I too have hurd talk of reduced aid to Jordan for FY 09 but I am not sure of my sources.

    In my opinion, referencing sources when providing figures or facts that can easily be disputed would reduce needless arguement.

  69. lol @ susie’s projects list, Dubai did the same in 12 months, and we have been waiting 12-years for the Disi water project, 7-years for the Abdali project, 2-years for airport expansion, and god knows for how long just to add a lane to the airport highway!!

    NOTHING will ever change as long as the people don’t have a say in ANYTHING…they can appoint Einstien as PM and he wont be able to do anything in this system…

  70. @ Yet Another Jordanian
    It turns out 400MM USD of the total aid came at the end of September. So I agree with you, my number is not updated, even though it was quoted in recent articles.

    ———————————————————
    I have read about the decline in aid in multiple sources over the past few months, one of them is Bloomberg (as of Dec 9th):
    http://wealth.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601104&sid=aAsG.Kgrf5ws

    The economy slowed to a 2.8 percent annual growth rate in the second quarter, half the rate for all of 2008. At the same time, the country received 144.5 million dinars ($204 million) in foreign grants in the first 10 months of 2009, a 71 percent drop amid the global financial crisis, according to Finance Ministry data.
    ——————————————————
    I agree that citing sources helps, but in this case, both sources are reliable, it is a matter of updated data I guess, dealing with Economic data, especially percentages, is tricky. You can spin them anyway you want most of the time :)

  71. lol @ susie’s projects list, Dubai did the same in 12 months, and we have been waiting 12-years for the Disi water project, 7-years for the Abdali project, 2-years for airport expansion, and god knows for how long just to add a lane to the airport highway!!

    It is ridiculous to compare Jordan with Dubai in any way. Jordan has never had resources of its own, and was hurting badly after the 1967 war. However, the country picked itself up, dusted itself off, amd started all over again. All the projects achieved in the 1970s and 1980s were built with AID money, within a context and a plan. Maybe it is a good thing if the Disi water project has not yet materialised as it is only a short term solution to Jordan’s water problems. Once the Disi fossil water is finished, then what ? Look at Yemen. There are no quick fixes nor alternatives to long term planning. But planning becomes very difficult when it has to absorb three unexpected influxes of population ; in 1967, in 1990 and most recently the Iraqis. Things certainly are far from perfect, but the problems Jordan has faced are also unparalled.

  72. You know souse , why we jordanian blame our problems on the “outsiders” ,why can’t we look deep and be critical of the so called previous government that were installed and constructed by the king why we can’t, and mostly prevented to govern ourselves, and be able to be responsible and self critical of our actions why for some reason or another Jordanian find ways to brush aside and hide what the rigeme has been doing and the it’s ramifications of absolute power that will always corrupt absolutely? why? Why? Why?

  73. it has nothing to do with resources, its to do with efficiency and a strong will to achieve, Disi started in 1990 and still in wilderness, thats poor project management…it has nothing to do with influx of iraqis and palestinians thats a LAME excuse, same for housing initative “sakan kareem”, launched now 2yrs ago nearly nothing done, nothing to do with resources just corruption and poor project management…and from there u will wait 20 years for nuclear power, another 7 for Abdali project, another few for airport expansion, hell how many years has passed since they announced they want to expand the Jordan Petroleum Refinery? FIVE years, until today nothing has been done…the no resources and population influx excuses won’t wash with well-informed people who know the backgrounds, besides our government budget is over $6bn so we should be able to add a lane to the airport highway in less than 4 years (and counting!)…and if something is ever done, its massively overpriced thanks to corruption, why on earth for instance abdoun bridge cost 12 million JD!

  74. londoner@it has nothing to do with resources, its to do with efficiency and a strong will to achieve

    There is no denying that this was there in the period I mentioned, and consquently much was achieved.

    londoner@Disi started in 1990 and still in wilderness

    The Disi project was always controversial, which is which it is still being tossed back and forth. It is a quick fix but not sound ecologically nor enviromentally. And of course demographic changes have huge implications on all aspects of infrastructure. Every extra person needs water, schooling, healthcare, housing. If you were expecating a baby and your wife suddenly produced quadruplets I am sure it would upset your family’s budget. Look, I am not saying things are perfect. But let us try and be positive, at least until proven wrong. Also, do not deny that at acertain stage, a lot was achieved with very little. I do not know how old you are, but perhaps you have grown up in a Jordan where the projects I metioned are taken for granted. I remember when none of them existed.

  75. I am proud to say that I read my way through the entire 93 comments above. Now THAT took some time!

    I see a lot negativity above and not much in the way of offering realistic or creative solutions. I am surprised that in these 93 comments only the name of Marwan Mouasher came up as an alternative choice for PM. Amazing.

    I think some of the comments also reveal a naive view of political management and national development, let alone the complexities of politics (especially in a young developing nation, where family and tribal affiliations are still strong and where national identity is still in the making).

    If there is a real take-away from the debate above is that the People need to have more say in the country’s affairs. Fair enough. Yet I would argue that even the AVAILABLE channels for participation are hardly being used by people. Most people just adopt a stance of “me-first” and “getting by”. The problem, then, is a cultural one (government is both a product of such a system and a perpetuator of it). Unless a culture of negativity and disengagement is broken by real civic leaders in various circles, change will not happen.

    As for the economy, the only “concrete” suggestion I remember from reading the comments is “taxation of the rich”. So, its like a fight over the distribution of a small pie. Again, this is nothing that adds new value to the economy. The solution to Jordan’s economic problems is to unleash every productive potential in the country. Easier said than done, but the seeds of this are already there. The commenter who stressed education and luring back qualified Jordanians is right on the money.

    I appreciate susie’s comments about what Jordan has achieved throughout the decades in terms of projects and infrastructure. Taking all of this for granted and likening Jordan to some backward banana republic ruled by a dictator with expensive hobbies is basically unfair.

    It is clear that there is a crisis of leadership and political renewal in Jordan. The solutions have already been outlined in the National Agenda, which was developed by a large cross section of Jordanian society.

    Pushing for more participation is definitely the right thing to do. But actually PARTICIPATING, by engaging reality, by adding something to society and the economy is even better.

    A real sign of maturity of this country would be if people stopped expecting daddy (your father/your boss/the PM/the King) to do everything for you, or to be the ideal image of a saint. Even a perfect system or process are worthless if no one stands up for them and operates them.

    On this blog, people of all political persuasions had the chance to criticize everything.. from the ministers to the PM to the King. I think no one landed in jail yet. So at least here we have “freedom of expression”, No? So what do you next? Wait for a few years to bitch about the next PM on Black Iris? Or do you go out there and engage reality?

  76. @Ahmad Humeid: I have to agree with most of what you’ve outlined above. the country’s most serious problems tend to lie within its very people as opposed to interchangeable leadership (which is also a problem). anyone who lives, works and breathes in jordan realizes the complexities of its people who have one of the most self-centered attitudes that is the root of most of our problems.

  77. @humeid and Nas,
    Can you let us in on how you envision how change would or should occur in Jordan? I mean where should we start? Do we take to the streets? Do we boycott an elections? How can we do it? Dp we offer the people a fair and just elections law? Where does leadership fall in the equation? As far as I know those in power are the ones that should be held accountable,not the people.

    As a matter of fact I find both your comments insulting.

  78. @ Humeid

    “Bitching” is the least we can do since we don’t get to choose neither the government nor the parliment. You know, it is my way to cast my vote since my real one doesn’t count..

  79. @Mohanned: why should such a comment be “insulting”…for I consider myself to be a part of the Jordanian society and thus a part of the problem.

    enlightened leadership is great. accountability and transparency is wonderful. fair election are great. but if all those elements were in play we have to seriously ask ourselves, given the current social dynamics at play, what would the outcome be? would it be positive? having lived, studied and worked in this country, i.e. knowing this country, are the people truly capable of making right political choices? and you really need to step outside the west ammani “intellectual” bubble to answer that.

    but let’s put that aside.

    the argument being posed here is that while we demand political reform (a feat that is not easily doable in jordan, and to argue otherwise would be folly) we have to ask ourselves whether there is any social reform happening. not social reform as dictated by a ministry, but true social reform in the context of people changing their own destinies and their own immediate environments in whatever capacity they have/know, i.e. an organic, grassroots social changes. the answer is no. few have been willing to step up and act. few have been willing to step up and lead. few have been willing to even change their minds about some of core issues that have been detrimental to our development as a society.

    as history has shown us time and again, electing governments and calling for great political changes tends to be brought about by the people, as opposed to the people sitting around waiting for their leader to give it to them.

    real power isn’t given…it’s taken.

  80. “real power isn’t given…it’s taken.” and then maintained..

    “. knowing this country, are the people truly capable of making right political choices? and you really need to step outside the west ammani “intellectual” bubble to answer that.”

    That is not the right question to ask, I would go further and call it an elitest and unethical question at best. Right choices for who? Who decides what’s “right”? There is no right or wrong when it comes to choice- The right to choose is the only right as far as I am concerned. When we the people choose we bear the outcomes of our choices, we reap the fruit or get the blame for the choices we made..But when the decision maker is untouchable and unaccountable, not even morally or politically how do you expect the people to become engaged? When the wrong doing is not punished why do you expect the average jo to care more? When my vote doesn’t count why should I care? when I have “economic rights” but no political ones why do you expect me to become engaged in social and political change?
    This is why “bitching”-using humeid’s term- is an important part of social change..

  81. “The right to choose is the only right as far as I am concerned. When we the people choose we bear the outcomes of our choices, we reap the fruit or get the blame for the choices we made.”

    i think you and i both know that this is an incredibly naive statement to make, one that can be placed strictly in the theory pile and as far from the practice context as possible. the outcomes, in practice, are fairly predictable. and to correct myself earlier, i do not mean choices in the sense of “right” and “wrong” but rather choices with “positive” and “negative” outcomes.

    the people have no democratic values whatsoever, and if that is the fault then so be it, but at the end of the day this is the reality. more importantly however is that being engaged in the progress of one’s society does not have to be boiled down to the ability to vote. in fact, it shouldn’t at all. people with fully-fledged democratic systems are constantly complaining about their leadership. their right to vote has little to do with their progress as a society.

    political empowerment is only one aspect of a blossoming society, and while we have yet to gain it, we are still lagging behind on the most crucial of points: our development as a society, as a people.

    for every 5,000 people that are complaining and criticizing in jordan, i encounter perhaps one changemaker at best. that number needs to increase.

    and the biggest obstacle for people wanting to create real positive change in their society is not the government nor the leadership but rather the people themselves.

  82. “and the biggest obstacle for people wanting to create real positive change in their society is not the government nor the leadership but rather the people themselves.”
    What a piece of propaganda Nas,,, you must be kidding me ,,you know and i know that what you wrote is false , and I will just give one example to refute your fallacy,
    EXAMPLE,, If I decide tomorrow to go to Israeli Embassy and and protest against the Israeli crimes ,I can assure you I will be arrested and tortured ,spit on and kicked around and sent to jail and at the end pay huge fine ..

  83. The Free Jordanian: Thank you for providing me with a clear cut example of what I’m talking about. You ask for freedom of speech and freedom of expression – and in your case you desire to exercise them by going to protest at the Israeli embassy – but then you completely negate my opinion by disrespectfully labeling it as “propaganda”.

    In other words, freedom of speech and expression should be allowed, but as long as we all agree with you and your opinions. In other words, I should be expected to fully respect your opinion and allow you the space to express yourself freely on my blog, but I should also expect that that same courtesy not be returned to me.

    Your perception and approach to free speech and expression is no different from how the majority of Jordanians behave.

    Lastly, regarding the sentence that you quoted me, if you don’t think that’s an accurate statement then I can conclude that you have never truly attempted to do something positive for your country or that you know of few people who have. There is absolutely no doubt that we have serious problems when it comes to the political state in this country, much of which has been outlined in my original post and in the comments that followed. However, we, as the people, have always been the biggest obstacle to our own positive change. The state always comes in second. And a critical analysis of one’s own immediate environment would lead to that conclusion.

  84. Naseem,
    You still didn’t give me an answer to your proposed way of creating change? I think your main argument is that people need to be more engaged, but how if schools and unis teach conformity to power-unis which are supposed to be where political views are formed and nurtured. How? When the leadership contradcits itself everytime it advances reform? I think its fair to say that it is a trickle down schizophrenia.

    Besides you seem to intentionally seem to “forget” that the government is the only organized body which is able to “deliver” in Jordan, and this is not the making of chance but rather a deliberate effort on the part of the government and the leadership to prevent any change movement from reaching critical mass in the fear of the coming tipping point. and to prove ur point I will use your own words:

    “for every 5,000 people that are complaining and criticizing in jordan, i encounter perhaps one changemaker at best. that number needs to increase.”

    If that number increases and the group of ones from each five thousand decide to organize, they will be taken somewhere and “talken to”, if you will.

    Then you come back to the “predictable” outcomes “argument”? What are your predictions? Why don’t the leadership with the absolute power “grant” universal human rights to the citizens of Jordan? Why do we have to say that the outcomes of democratic reform are predictable when the outcomes of 60 years of the same policy of governing are facts on the ground and they are utter failures? Do we accept failure just because we “fear” the predictable? This is the definition of a defeatest attitude. If in 60 years of absolute power the leadership failed to build institutions that are able of protecting the state and our rights then what naseem? If the institution are only there to maintain the regime and not the state then what naseem?

    Come on man!

  85. “but how if schools and unis teach conformity to power-unis which are supposed to be where political views are formed and nurtured. How?”

    no doubt that this is true. but emphasis on “supposed to be”. when you don’t have the ideal you have to deal with the reality. if our educational systems don’t help us, we have to ask why we’re not helping ourselves. are our schools the only resource of knowledge available to us? how many jordanians read books outside their school curriculum? how many use the internet for purposes other than accessing pornography or copying/pasting materials for their school work? how many parents are actually encouraging their kids to pursue knowledge in all its forms? how many of them are even aware or involved in any way when it comes to school work? can you see the trickle-down effect here, and how widespread it is?

    “Besides you seem to intentionally seem to “forget” that the government is the only organized body which is able to “deliver” in Jordan”

    To deliver what? public services?

    visit any jabal in east amman where the majority of the capital’s population lives and you’ll find that the biggest organized body that delivers services is NOT the government but the Muslim Brotherhood. and the people who operate its various entities in any given jabal are almost always made up of the residents in the area. doctors volunteer or get paid minimal amounts to work in neighborhood clinics (which are cheaper than the government’s), as do lawyers and teachers.

    the muslim brotherhood is the perfect example of a social body that organized itself, funded itself, maintained itself, and empowered itself not only in the absence of government but despite the obstacles the government put up for them specifically. whether we agree with their politics and beliefs is besides the point. the point is that they did not wait around for the government to give them anything, they did it themselves, empowering thousands in the process.

    “If that number increases and the group of ones from each five thousand decide to organize, they will be taken somewhere and “talken to”, if you will.”

    political activists, probably, social activists, rarely if ever. ive known of no social activist in jordan that has been “talked to” by the government, and if they have, it only tends to strengthen their resolve. i would include myself in that category having been “talked to” before and continuing regardless. these talks are merely one obstacle that occur once in a blue moon. again, the problems and obstacles social activists and changemakers face on a daily basis tend to come from the people themselves first, followed by government bodies second. that’s my argument here.

    “Do we accept failure just because we “fear” the predictable?”

    I agree with all of your aforementioned statements. I agree that the people need to be granted their universal human rights. I agree with having free elections. I agree with use being able to govern ourselves and the ability to maintain our own institutions.

    however, i also realize that our population is divided between those who are tribal and those have islamist leanings, with the rest being too insignificant a number to present any real political power. while i am personally uninterested in having either of these groups govern me (both of which would likely set up a dictatorship in the end), my opinion does not matter. what matters is that neither party would be able to successfully maneuver through the political complexities of this region, nor govern fairly domestically. they have 60 years of rhetoric to back that up.

    our qualms with the regime and state of affairs are valid. and like i said, i agree with you on the essentials.

    my argument boils down to the fact that i believe real change should not come from up top but from down below on the street level. i believe that genuine social change is what induces, if not forces, genuine political change on the executive level. otherwise, we’re just waiting around for daddy to give us our allowance instead of going out and making a living.

  86. Jordanians are expected to live with they are told and given…..FACT.

    Any one who expresses a differenrt point of view is labelled against the government and HM……FACT.

    The Media in Jordan does not help matters, the likes of Wakeel making out he is making a difference in his morning shows is absolutely absurd, furthermore his laugh is really annoying…..FACT.

    Omar Abdallat and this watani songs obsession we have, creates a kind of anesthesia that makes us forget what is actually going on around us……FACT.

  87. ” are our schools the only resource of knowledge available to us?”
    For many ppl yes.

    ” how many jordanians read books outside their school curriculum? how many use the internet for purposes other than accessing pornography or copying/pasting materials for their school work?”

    Schools are central to the issues mentioned above. When the public university admission system is designed to co-opt a certain segment of the jordanian society, where the unqualified end up teaching our kids in our schools, where the same teachers are paid nickles and dimes, where the 50 kids sit in the same room, where relegion is given more emphasis than science, where critical thinking is discouraged,etc….It is a cycle naseem, and changing this cycle needs courage, which sadly is lacking.

    “how many parents are actually encouraging their kids to pursue knowledge in all its forms? ”
    The same parents are the product of the same schooling system.

    The muslim brotherhood and the regime “share” some goals, eventhough they get at it some time..For the them jordan is “ard 7ashd wa reba6″ thus it is only a part of the larger islamic agenda..So the now for them is not as important as their envisioned future. The regime in the 60’s enabled the islamists to counter the leftist powers, the regime gave them control of the educational system. so yeah they are part of the problem, but they are being enabled by the the powers that be, they serve them well, and they are the perfect “bo3bo3″…

    Also, your categorization of islamists vs tribals is flawed. Tribalists are simply trying to protect their “affirmative action” benefits, and the regime knows that..For example, neyef el qadi remained in the government to signal something for those, the royal vistis to tribes,etc….you get the idea…

    Islamists are the only choice left for the marginalized jordanian of palastenian origins, they have no choice.either they accept only having some economic rights with no political ones or they vote for islamists..Of course I am not generalizing, but thats my read of the issue. The jordanian society has never been an islamist leaning one..It is only a reaction to what we are being offered by the powers that be.

    “my argument boils down to the fact that i believe real change should not come from up top but from down below on the street level.”

    So they created the “darak” nashama to deal with the street..

    ” otherwise, we’re just waiting around for daddy to give us our allowance instead of going out and making a living.”

    It is not the issue of daddy..A daddy genuinely cares about his sons and daughters and doesn’t pay them “kaf sharr” if you will..Ask the Iraqi “awakening” consultants who were taught the lesson well..”Ta3mi el thom testa7i ma ba3raf shoo”..

  88. @yazan:

    “Jordanians are expected to live with they are told and given…..FACT.”

    absolutely true. however, expectations can always be defied by changing realities.

    “Any one who expresses a differenrt point of view is labelled against the government and HM……FACT.”

    absolutely true. as is the opposite of this statement.

    “The Media in Jordan does not help matters, the likes of Wakeel making out he is making a difference in his morning shows is absolutely absurd, furthermore his laugh is really annoying…..FACT.”

    no doubt. yet people could care less if he is making a difference; he is a platform that people find credible because they see (or hear of) an outcome

    “Omar Abdallat and this watani songs obsession we have, creates a kind of anesthesia that makes us forget what is actually going on around us……FACT.”

    absolutely. but no one shoves omar abdallat down the people’s throat. he and his music are cherished by (i would argue) a majority, judging simply by the amount of praise his music receives and the fact that he sells more tickets in every venue he plays than anyone else we can think of, to say nothing of taxi anthems.

  89. I salute Naseem as I think he has hit every appropriate nail on the head. Has anyone ever come across the saying “every people gets the government they deserves ?” Jordanians on the whole are apathetic so long as they are alright Jack. They are blinkered to a very large degree as to the world around them and judge most things simply from the their personal point of view . Education, or lack of it certainly plays a very large part in creating this state of affairs, but there is as Nas says, a very real problem in the lack of maturity and altrusim with with the average Jordanian thinks and acts.
    Mohannad@I would go further and call it an elitest and unethical question at best.

    When there is a parliament in session, there are usually parliamentary sub committees on Education, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture etc. Hand on heart, is it not true that most of of the members of these committee have not the slightest idea of the broader picture. Most issues are looked at from either a narrow, very chauvanistic, increasily religiously conservative attitude, or from a highly politicised stand where everything begins and ends with the Palestinian tragedy. I would like issues to be debated and judged on individual merit, not a “one size fits all ” manner. I sometimes fear that there are many who would exploit “democratic” means to bring in a most undemocratic form of government, or more precisely, lifestyle. Look at Iran. It is important to learn from history.

  90. It is really amusing how the blame shifted from (or at least was split between) the autocratic corrupt regime to those toiling under it – who by the way happen to be socially retarded, apathetic, illiterate, passive, and would not know how to deal with democracy if it was delivered to them on a royal platter.

    Abdel Karim Qassim’s personal translator Abdul Mon’em al-Khatib once quoted Somerset Maugham who described a failed political leader as a horse pulling a carriage down a steep slope. After a while one can’t tell if the horse is pulling the carriage or vice-versa, but they are both rolling together downhill.
    From a slightly more obscure source, there is the story of the reckless bus driver who keeps yelling at the passengers who are not doing a good job riding the out-of-control bus.

    Ahmad:
    Every population who has ever lived in a banana republic under a corrupt dictator with expensive hobbies has managed to console itself by pointing to a few things (or accomplishments) that create the illusion that they are not living under a corrupt autocratic regime. People in Swaziland can point to the fact that the external debt burden has declined markedly over the last 20 years, and domestic debt is almost negligible.

  91. Nas,,With all due respect to , I still insist it is a piece of propaganda, I gave an example of how the government would act if I decide to protest, and in return, you came back to me talking about how your feelings got hurt. Your felling and mine are irrelevant to this very serious and important discussion and debate, I never ask anybody to agree with me in your blog or mine and several times in my blog, people will call me all kind of names and use all kind profanity and insults toward me and that’s fine with me, because I learned long time ago that I have to wear thick skin in order to engage them even if they don’t adhere to my ideas.

  92. Susie,
    So basically it boils down to this: keep the current system until the jordanian ppl are able to vote “rationally”. And by rational, you mean they vote in a way that fits your vision and the vision of the powers that be. You and naseem predict the outcomes based on your limited experience and thus argue for maintaining the status quo,or at least waiting until we jordanians become “rational” and more politically and socially sophisticated.

    You contradict yourself and destroy your own argument in your comment by describing jordanians as selfish. Voters all over the globe vote based on personal interest and beliefs, so we are not the exception. “selfish” voters are not necessarily “irrational’ and they form masses based on those “selfish” needs, you know needs like good health care, good retirement future, good education, fair treatment, having a say in their present, future and such..How selfish and irrational of them..The system in place is set to nurture nepotism, tribal loyalties and division. change the system and the outcomes will sure change. The last parliment representes 10% of the jordanian population at best, and this is intentional.

    There is major flaw in our governing system which is the lack of accountability and transperancy at ALL levels, and by all I mean ALL. In all democracies leadership that doesn’t deliver is voted out, here upon failure of delivery we get a “reshuffle” and the leadership goes unaccountable..You know because we are a country with limited resources(Pun intended).

    Demand accountability and keep pushing the envelope, that is what each of us should keep doing, not advancing the same ol’ arguments of “oasis of peace” and “limited resources”.

  93. Great discussion.
    I think the most valuable are for NAS and أردني دافع الظرايب and Ahhmad Humeid. The problem lies in the people, and it is time we get serious about our educational system. Public schools are a national disaster in terms of forming the Jordanian identity (think about the oppression, lack of self thinking and self appreciation, think of the teacher who looks like a bus driver and has no respect of him/her self.
    Enough with the broken record that Jordan is poor of natural resources, guess what? We are not the only country! But many are doing just fine.

    It is time to build an institutional country and not a circumstantial country where qualifications come first. Jordan was pioneer in many sectors many decades ago, we can still do it.

  94. @Mohanned:

    “It is a cycle naseem, and changing this cycle needs courage, which sadly is lacking. ”

    As I said earlier, our educational system requires massive overhaul, there’s no doubt about that. this does not take away from the fact that we have grown virtually acquiescent to this reality. if we take the west as an example, north america is filled with underfunded and disastrous school systems and districts. the environment does not breed acquiescence but rather movements on the ground level. parents form pta committees, they even fund raise to fill their kids’ libraries with books. advocacy movements are born. hundreds of moves on the social level are made before the issue ever becomes completely politicized. in jordan, our take is to sit down, complain and pretend our hands are completely tied.

    “The muslim brotherhood and the regime “share” some goals, eventhough they get at it some time..”

    yes, yes, we can argue the muslim brotherhood’s existence from a million angles and a million theories. im looking at the organization strictly as a social entity that is made up of community leaders, is predominantly self-funded, sustainable, has the ability to mobilize many people and has an enormous social impact in communities where the government is practically non-existence. a quick look at east amman can lead us to this conclusion.

    and every obstacle the government has ever thrown their way in the name of curtailing or containing their sphere of influence is just one more obstacle they manage to find their way around.

    “The jordanian society has never been an islamist leaning one..It is only a reaction to what we are being offered by the powers that be.”

    i think that’s an under-reading of the political landscape. there are over 30 political parties that cross the political spectrum. the reason why islamists are popular is not because they’re the only choice for “jordanians of palestinian origin”, but because they are the most organized and most visible in these respective communities where they offer various social services. this is a widely known fact. i am actually conducting on-the-ground research in east amman and 99% of the people i’ve spoken to all relate this exact sentiment. and by the way, they do have islamist leanings without a doubt and it stretches way beyond the borders of amman and jordan.

    “So they created the “darak” nashama to deal with the street..”

    so what? every country in the world has hardcore riot police. the greater the level of authoritarianism the greater the police force. but how has this ever been an obstacle for people who have lived under and transitioned away from authoritarian rule?

    “It is not the issue of daddy..A daddy genuinely cares about his sons and daughters and doesn’t pay them “kaf sharr” if you will”

    lol don’t take the metaphor to seriously. what i’m pointing out here is that we are constantly asking for things instead of getting things done ourselves. yes, not everything is achievable solely by the people, but we have cultivated a generation of people who are told to ask for things to be given to them.

    ironically, the people who make the greatest demands are also the people who wholeheartedly believe that the system and the person they are making demands of are failures. and i wonder, if that’s the underlying conclusion that they’ve reached, why are they still cursing the darkness?

    ————

    @Free Jordanian

    “Nas,,With all due respect to , I still insist it is a piece of propaganda, I gave an example of how the government would act if I decide to protest, and in return, you came back to me talking about how your feelings got hurt.”

    sigh…

    if this is what you got from my comment then ive made the crucial mistake of over-estimating your powers of perception.

  95. Mohanned @And by rational, you mean they vote in a way that fits your vision and the vision of the powers that be

    No, that is not what I meant. You have no idea what my vision is, and I am not entirely sure what you mean by the vision of the powers that be. I would just like to be sure that my life style is not dictated to by the way other people think and believe to be the only ” right ” way. I have a very real fear that if certain groupings came to the fore, however democratically, our personal liberties would be curtailed in a manner which I would find difficult to accept. I do not cover my hair . I absolutely accept and respect another woman’s decision to cover her hair . But I will not accept to be told that I have to wear hijab, as has been the case recently in Gaza, and is the case in Iran and Saudi Arabia, nor for that matter, would I ban students from wearing a head covering as they do in Turkey. I am an adult and am capable of taking my own decisions. Equally, I do not condone agressively secular life styles which also demand conformity from others. Live and let live is my motto. Live as you want in your private life, and behave with courtesy,respect and integrity in your public life. Full stop.

    Naseem is absolutely correct in his diagnosis of our national ills.

  96. Susie,
    Your arguments are selfish, you are OK with taking the rights of others to democratically elect their representatives for the unfounded fear of them maybe taking your rights. As I said earlier in a comment, universal human rights should be granted to each and every jordanian and those rights should be protected by the constitution and the instituitions. If the regime has failed to build such institutions then your blame should shift.

    Naseem,
    “the environment does not breed acquiescence but rather movements on the ground level”
    Exactly, the key word is enviroment. In the west and in the US the enviroment enables, supports and provides resources. They have a system that works for the people not the other way around. They get to choose, we get to shut up. But lets not move to discussing the US educational system and their politics.

    To look at the IAF from a strictly social aspect is ignoring the bigger picture. The “enviroment” enabled them just like it enabled tribalists and capitalists and political dynasties. Of course by the word enviroment, I mean the system of governing and both its intended and unintended consequences..

    “ironically, the people who make the greatest demands are also the people who wholeheartedly believe that the system and the person they are making demands of are failures. and i wonder, if that’s the underlying conclusion that they’ve reached, why are they still cursing the darkness?”

    You see for us the believers of the system FAILURE, demanding is a way of casting a vote. It is our way of making our voices heard here and abroad. When more critical voices spring here and there the sound will get louder and the system will change. If we speak more, at the end we will have the urge to take corrective action. This is what “cursing the darkness” is all about..It is about building critical mass and pressure..The more you know, the more you are inclined to do something..

  97. “Exactly, the key word is enviroment”

    the environment needed to create positive change on the ground is readily available in jordan. the tools are there, the brain power is there, the opportunities are there, even the funding if need be. the environment is difficult to maneuver like most things in jordan but it is, nevertheless, there.

    the brotherhood is an example but perhaps too big of an example, with too many historic and political connotations. there are many change agents operating in jordan but just not nearly enough. and its certainly not due to government policy. and while i agree the brotherhood has been “enabled” by the government to some extent, we have to acknowledge that this enabling was reluctant and incredibly controlled. in other words, control and containment are better words to use here than “enable”.

    again, the brotherhood is too big an example. a smaller one would be the family unit itself.

    “When more critical voices spring here and there the sound will get louder and the system will change.”

    so you believe that by speaking louder and louder the system will just change?

    “The more you know, the more you are inclined to do something..”

    so do something…that’s the point!

    why are we inclined to say that there’s nothing we can do because the system doesn’t “let us” or because the environment doesn’t “enable us”? why are we satisfied with these excuses?

    in other words, since when do genuine social movements ever adhere to the realities of the status quo, rather than attempt to defy them?

    isn’t that the whole point?

  98. The whole point is that at some point in the comments the blame shifted from the “managers” to the people as if they are the ones leading the nation and for me this is insulting to both the people and the readers intelligence. If you think that by telling people that they only have themselves to blame that somehow they will become more engaged you are only kidding youself. You have to start by providing them with the knowledge of what is happening in the their country. You have to let them know that they are loosing their country. You have to let them know where some ppl spend their vacations. You have to let them know that they are being lied to in their face with a smile.

    “so you believe that by speaking louder and louder the system will just change?”
    No. I belive that by speaking louder more will hear the voice and thus feel more inclined to do something or at least join the “cursing of the darkness” and trust me, the tipping point will be reached. Remember Basem awadalla and how loud voices got him fired despite him being the king’s man? And organized loud voice force got the royal court chief and the second most powerful man in Jordan “fired”… I know it is an anecdote but it is the example that I can remember now.. So yeah loud voices do work, especially in the absence of a system where my voice can be heared through my vote.

    “in other words, since when do genuine social movements ever adhere to the realities of the status quo, rather than attempt to defy them?”

    puuurfect..Then how come you justify the absence of true political reform for the fear of the “predictable”?

  99. Plus I find it curious that the debate shifted somehow to a party defending its right to critisize, while the other party is attacking the critics for not doing enough and being too critical..I mean, this is just classic..However what became missing from the picture are the string holders!

  100. @Mohanned:

    “The whole point is that at some point in the comments the blame shifted from the “managers” to the people as if they are the ones leading the nation and for me this is insulting to both the people and the readers intelligence. If you think that by telling people that they only have themselves to blame that somehow they will become more engaged you are only kidding youself.”

    see this is the problem i have with such arguments, the need to paint everything in a single color. that there is always a single person to blame. that there is always a single element at play. a single factor at work.

    i am not blaming anyone for anything. i am simply saying that a country, specifically our own, is made up of many variables. when it comes to advancement, i do agree that the leadership has yet to sign definite signs of success, but my focus is on the social element because i feel it is the people who need to start doing something in order to fulfill their own destinies, instead of waiting around for the government to hand it to them.

    in your opinion, that social action that i am talking about is really just speaking up. that’s fine. if that’s your thing, god bless. in my opinion it will do little (bassem awadallah was not removed to the increased voices of the people but rather the old guard). in my opinion a lot more work on the ground needs to be done to have genuine progress. whether within ourselves, our family unit, our neighborhood, our block, our community, our city, our governorate, etc. some change agents are there, but again, not nearly enough. even our social movements lack real leadership.

    lastly, i am not attacking you for “being too critical”…heck, im not even attacking you. we’re having a debate here and a debate usually has two sides. preferably those two sides don’t resort to simply negating the others’ argument because they don’t agree with it, but rather show considerations when need be. the arab default is “either you’re with me or you’re against me”, a sentiment echoed by the Free Jordanian above when referring to my opinions as state propaganda even though i do not work for the state and frequently speak out against the state when i deem it necessary. this in itself is a lack of our own maturity and selfishness: the idea that only one person is wrong and thus everyone else is wrong. we draw lines in the sand and divide ourselves as our colonialists taught us to do, even if we are working towards the same ultimate purpose.

  101. “that there is always a single person to blame. that there is always a single element at play. a single factor at work. ”

    Often,the blame falls on the leadership. But no one said that there is always a single element at play or work. To measure something you need to specify what is at work. To assign accountability you need to identify the factors at play.

    ” i feel it is the people who need to start doing something in order to fulfill their own destinies, instead of waiting around for the government to hand it to them. ”

    Great..But to fulfill a destiny one needs to believe in his/her ability. The ability to make something happen. The ability to affect something, say for example the ability to endure injustice and the absence of fairness. the ability to get up everytime the system lets you down due to its “limited resources”..The system is killing our abilities. The system is making us disengaged objects. The system is exporting us abroad. The system is not handing us anything for the sake of our advancement. The system only cares about maintaining itself.

    “in your opinion, that social action that i am talking about is really just speaking up.”

    in my opinion it is only the first step. to excercise freedom of speech. to demand accountability. To ask for checks and balances. to focus the attention on what is imprtant. we are at a point where slow change and action will be of no good, we are on the path of becoming more broke than we have ever been, maybe another 1989 is knocking our doors..So yeah, grass roots movement are great, I love them, but for the specific time we now live in, we need swift attention and action.

    Plus, I didn’t mean attack in the offensive sense, but rather in the “being too focused on one thing” sense..we are not disagreeing on the ultimate goal, we simply differ in the means we feel are more suitable for dealing with the issues facing our nation at the time being.. I feel that there is a need to differentiate between a regime and a state. we need to make clearer the definition of terms such as loyalty,state, leadership, accountabilyt and such..and i feel that such issues need immediate attention, attention that we can only get if we talk louder..social change takes time…protecting our country can’t wait.

  102. ” a sentiment echoed by the Free Jordanian above when referring to my opinions as state propaganda even though i do not work for the state and frequently speak out against the state when i deem it necessary. this in itself is a lack of our own maturity and selfishness: ”
    Come on Nas , This is just pure misrepresentation of I wrote and one could argue it’s out right disinformation about fellow blogger, my comments speak loud and clear and what I have written in your blog and let me quote my self to clarify to the people and particularly to you Nassem “What a piece of propaganda Nas,,, you must be kidding me ,,you know and i know that what you wrote is false ,” This is what I wrote no more or less
    I never uttered the word state or government propaganda in my comment ,so I didn’t know where you came up with this ?
    A Good journalist would run a correction immediately..

  103. “The system is killing our abilities. The system is making us disengaged objects. The system is exporting us abroad. The system is not handing us anything for the sake of our advancement. The system only cares about maintaining itself.”

    if this is true then we should assume that any social reform on the ground level must happen despite the presence of the system. to me, that is the very definition of an organic social movement. that’s what’s needed. it’s happened all over the world.

    “in my opinion it is only the first step. to excercise freedom of speech. to demand accountability. To ask for checks and balances. to focus the attention on what is imprtant.”

    this is where i have trouble. i agree with this premise as any sane person would, but i also live in this environment; this environment where i see the majority of people not accountable for their own actions. the cheating, the fraud, the robbery, the disregard of ethics, etc. getting the simplest of tasks done in jordan is a whirlwind of trouble because you have to deal with employees (private or public) who have no work ethic. unfortunately they represent a majority but i use this as an example to say, yeah, i’d love to see accountability on the executive level, but what about the millions underneath? good leaderships helps but it can only do so much to change the core values in a people.

    “social change takes time…protecting our country can’t wait.”

    yes, but in my opinion it is a pre-requisite. you can have all the free elections you want, but without genuine social reform you will not only yield unfortunate results but the people will remain generally apathetic.

  104. @free jordanian:

    “I never uttered the word state or government propaganda in my comment”

    then how do you define propaganda in the context you used it?

    “A Good journalist would run a correction immediately..”

    i am not a journalist nor do i claim to be one

  105. @MUSA

    “Every population who has ever lived in a banana republic under a corrupt dictator with expensive hobbies has managed to console itself by pointing to a few things (or accomplishments) that create the illusion that they are not living under a corrupt autocratic regime.”

    One of the most powerful statements I’ve ever read .. You should write a book. Seriously.

    @ NAS

    Your logic kinda reminds of this ..
    ——————————————————————————————————————-
    JENNINGS: Excuse me for interrupting. Who decides democratic maturity? Who is –.

    ABDULLAH: The people.

    JENNINGS: — as of now, you decide democratic maturity?

    ABDULLAH: Well in this particular position, we formed the government, that the parliament is elected by the people. But to encourage that, I mean, I have been in discussions with parliamentarians that would it be stronger for you to create where you stand on issues of education, social services, et cetera, et cetera, so that you can create a political party so that in the future, the people actually pick you for where you stand, and not because you happen to be a cousin or a tribal member?
    ———————————————————————————————————————

  106. منقول

    الملك يغادر ارض الوطن في زيارة خاصة

    (بترا) – غادر جلالة الملك عبدالله الثاني ارض الوطن الجمعة في زيارة خاصة.وادى سمو الامير فيصل بن الحسين اليمين الدستورية بحضور هيئة الوزارة نائبا لجلالة الملك

    الملك لا يقول لشعبه ما مناسبة هذه الزيارة الخاصة … واين سيقضيها ØŸ ولماذا الان ØŸ

    الملك قام خلال هذا العام ب 43 اجازة خاصة قضاها في الخارج على نفقة الشعب الاردني واصطحب معه زوجته واهلها وصديقاتها كما اصطحب اصدقائه واستأجر شاليهات ويخوت فاخرة وشملت زياراته الخاصة التزلج في كولورادو ولعب القمار في لاس فيغاس وكازينو لندن وزيارة مزرعة للخمور … هذا طبعا عدا عن الزيارات التي تأخذ طابعا رسميا بحجة القاء محاضرة هنا او زيارة جامعة هناك وهذه ايضا تتحول بعد نصف ساعة الى اجازة خاصة

    وللمقارنة فقط … ملك المغرب لم يغادر مملكته خلال الفترة نفسها الا مرتين في زيارات رسمية ولم يظهر مع زوجته بملابس داخلية كما ظهر ملك الاردن وهو يشرب بيرة بد لايت في يخت فاخر في ايطاليا قبل اشهر … الرئيس السوري لم يقم مع زوجته باية زيارة خاصة للخارج ويقضي اجازاته القصيرة مع زوجته اما بحضور مسرحية في حلب او بزيارة منطقة كسب … الملك عبدالله تفوق حتى على والده الملك حسين … المرحوم الملك حسين قام خلال السنوات العشر الاخيرة من حكمه ب 12 زيارة فقط وكلها كانت لاسباب مرضية

  107. “Your logic kinda reminds of this ..”

    yeah, i dont get it.

    but here’s a thought, instead of trying to draw analogies, it’s healthier if you just enter the debate with your arguments which we can dissect respectfully.

    casting stones from the sidelines never helps :-)

    thanks

  108. i didnt read all the comments to be honest .. but i saw ppl saying that we shouldnt blame the leadership that the people are responsible too .. ok but .. whenever people try to do something they always end up getting beaten .. how about the law that they have to get approval from the governor before any kind of assembly .. my point is this .. while i agree with the notion that the change must come from the people, it appears to me that the laws and policies in place also agree with this and therefore make every effort to snuff out any kind of initiative from the people ..

  109. nas said
    “the muslim brotherhood is the perfect example of a social body that organized itself, funded itself, maintained itself, and empowered itself not only in the absence of government but despite the obstacles the government put up for them specifically. whether we agree with their politics and beliefs is besides the point. the point is that they did not wait around for the government to give them anything, they did it themselves, empowering thousands in the process. ”

    and thats exactly why they are considered public enemy #1 by the state … do you think the state will allow another ikhwan to appear .. by another ikhwan i dont mean another body that shares their ideology .. just one that shares their organization and influence

  110. Has anyone read the report on the recent study conducted by the National Centre for Human Rights ? It has some worrying istatistics, to me at least.

  111. I encourage some of you to read up on Social Movements around the world, you will be surprized by what others have faced in order to make change…

  112. In keeping with Nas’ argument that people must also start to help themselves. I do not believe that official authorisation is needed to start Parent Teacher organisations, voluntary self help groups, book clubs, choral or debating societies, support groups for hospitals, orphanages, prisons, rehabiltation centres and such like, nor for cleaning up a forest, or an archaelogical site, etc etc. A lot of these are noe emeraging, but nearly eough, and not nearly fast enough. I have noticed that when people do get together publically, in the large majority of cases it seems to that their sole aim is to nullify Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel and picket the Israeli Embassy. Obviously, they are not going anywhwere soon with that line of thinking, but that should not stop them from working in other areas of national and public good. Having worked in the voluntary field here for many decades I am saddened that prortionally to our population, so many of the people who want to work simply for altruistic reasons are often foreigners. Remember what JFK said…..” ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

  113. susie said …
    I do not believe that official authorisation is needed to start Parent Teacher organisations, voluntary self help groups, book clubs, choral or debating societies, support groups for hospitals, orphanages, prisons, rehabiltation centres and such like, nor for cleaning up a forest, or an archaelogical site, etc etc.

    perhaps .. but none of those have anything to do with politics so i dont get how its relevant to what we are talking about

  114. Susie , I think what you wrote is naive. As someone living in a democratic state I can tell you that first citizens need to feel that they have a say in who’s leading the country, that they can influence and have a say in the decisions taken regarding the political, economic, social aspects of the state they live in before they’d want to start volunteering and taking intiatives like cleaning forrests etc., which in no way can change that that grim reality.
    If the leaders of a state are not elected by its citizens in free elections, are not accountable in anyway to the citizens, enjoy much higher standard of living compared to most citizens, this creates detachment between the citizens and the state. Is it really the citizens’ state? they don’t have any control or say in how the state is run. Leaders come and go without them able to control it. Why would they have the motivation to do something for the state? Doing something for the state is like cooperating with the existing political structure and helping it. When there is such injustice – that they are exculded from the political, social, economical desicion making processes – why would they want to be good citizens? They have a right to be angry, and when someone is angry, he or she doesn’t feel like volunteering to clean forrests or do anything helpful…

  115. I don’t think what Susie wrote was naive.. I think the point is that change can come from many different elements and these changes combined can transform the society and government to something better. If everyone is waiting for the other side to change first, we will stand still forever..
    Plus, great people are not great because they did what other people expected them to do. They are unique and inspirational because they did what most people didn’t expect them to do. So why not do something good for your country even if you feel that your country was not good to you? if you don’t do anything, nothing will ever change.

  116. @mo:

    “my point is this .. while i agree with the notion that the change must come from the people, it appears to me that the laws and policies in place also agree with this and therefore make every effort to snuff out any kind of initiative from the people ..”

    i agree with you in principle, and those laws need to be seriously re-examined no doubt. the trouble is, to get something positive done; to create real social change, does not require a protest or a permission slip from the governor. we need to start looking at social movements as being strictly political and strictly as something that will illicit the bashing of heads from the state’s police force.

    and although i dont want to get in to a discussion about police brutality, i should point out that while it does exist, of the hundred plus protests that ive been to in jordan over the past decade, the majority of fights tend to start with a protester throwing a stone at a policeman, followed by the group organizer yelling at him to fall back, followed by others throwing things, followed by the police captain getting fed up. again, im not saying that this happens in all cases, just the overwhelming majority of the political protests ive seen that have led to that (the majority of licensed protests do not end with anyone being beaten so let’s not confuse jordan with egypt).

    “and thats exactly why they are considered public enemy #1 by the state … do you think the state will allow another ikhwan to appear .. by another ikhwan i dont mean another body that shares their ideology .. just one that shares their organization and influence”

    i think mohanned’s argument was that the ikhwan exist because the government allows them to, in the sense that they serve the government’s purpose. im not sure that’s true, especially when considering their history in the country and the region.

    that said, there are a multitude of religious and non-religious organizations that already exist on the ground that are not associated with the ikhwan. all of them are allowed to operate and ive researched, spoken to, interviewed and worked with a few in recent years. what makes the ikhwan strictly unique in this sense is their long history of social activism, and of course their numbers – outmatching anything else that’s available.

    again, the reason i mentioned them in the first place is not because of their politics nor their religious convictions, but their ability to mobilize and create an unrivaled organization when it comes to social activism in their respective communities (and they are many). this social movement has had its impact on a religious and political level within these communities and depending where one stands, this may be seen as positive or negative. what cannot be denied as that they have managed to have an enormous social impact despite the obstacles set up by the system and the state that we constantly complain about.

    if they had simply sat down and said, you know what, there’s nothing we can do because the system is against us and the country’s leadership is against us and everyone is corrupt and everything is terrible – then the social power base they have now would be non-existent.

    they exist not merely in light of the system’s obstacles but because of them.

    “perhaps .. but none of those have anything to do with politics so i dont get how its relevant to what we are talking about”

    our failure to connect those socially transforming ideas (and many others) to the larger political picture is one of the biggest sources for our current malaise and our acquiescent natures.

    ———

    @susie: i haven’t read it but it would be great if you wrote something about it and published it on 7iber.com

  117. ” in the sense that they serve the government’s purpose. im not sure that’s true, especially when considering their history in the country and the region.”

    If by purpose you mean prviding social services in the land of the “7ashd an reba6″ then yeah. They simply thrived for being there at the right time in the right place. They built on their initial success that was a direct result of the government support and protection. One can look at their status in egypt to compare..And don’t forget the relationship between king hussein and abdulnaser..We drifted way beyond the original purpose, but I felt the urge to clarify..

  118. “perhaps .. but none of those have anything to do with politics so i dont get how its relevant to what we are talking about”

    our failure to connect those socially transforming ideas (and many others) to the larger political picture is one of the biggest sources for our current malaise and our acquiescent natures.

    ——–

    if any of those groups got political and started getting “ideas” .. dont you agree that someone would start listening in on their conversations .. maybe call in their president to have a little chat ..
    what im trying to say is that we (the people) are not lazy or aqueiscent or whatever else .. we are just scared of what might happen if we decided to say something .. we are terrified of what might happen if we “got involved” .. the prevalent attitude is “بمشي الحيط الحيط ويارب الستر” ..

    ill give u a personal example .. during the war on gaza .. i live in riyadh .. now protests are banned in ksa .. forget about expatriates in saudi .. do you think the saudi ppl didnt want to protest .. i assure u that they did .. but they were scared of what might happen if they did .. the state went so far as to prod the mufti to declare that protests are wrong ..

    so it all boils down to this .. change must come from the people .. no doubt about that .. but the people are too scared to do anything .. this environment of fear has been created by the state .. so unless the people grow some balls .. the status quo is going to continue ..
    take iran’s protestors as an example .. they get beaten they get arrested they even get killed .. but they have balls .. however i admit they have the media coverage working for them .. if the same protests happened in a country that the US considers an ally the coverage would definitely not be the same .. but still ..

  119. I urge you again to read the history of social movements in countries all over the world, just in the past 50 years at least. In order for things to change people have to sacrifice, not just sit and complain. Making your voice heard isnt just about yelling and typing, its about doing. Making an effort despite whatever obstacles are in the way, to overcome and create solutions to the problems.

    What I am trying to say is that people were scared of Pinochet and his secret police in Chile and the dictatorship in Argentina but the mothers of Plaza De Mayo went out and demonstrated and demanded to know what happened to their songs despite knowing that they might face the same fate as their children. Thankfully I don’t think anyone has to face such a fate in Jordan, but there needs to be an active civil society in order for things to change.

    Most of our civil society organizations and efforts are non-political, but they still benefit the lives of everyday Jordanians and make a difference. It doesn’t have to be politically charged in order for things to change in a benificial way to the population. Democracy isnt going to be the solution to all of Jordan’s problems I’m sorry to say. Communism might have been a great idea, but whose been able to implement it properly? They have democracy in the US but they still have an active civil society element that fills in for where the government doesnt/can/wont etc. The argument that there has to be democracy for civil society to be active and thrive is wrong and history has proven that over and over. I’ve lived in a democracy for many years and I’ve seen its flaws.

    In Development Economics, there has to be a triggering factor for an economy to get out of its unproductive cycle, I was taught that started with the need for entrepreneurs to go out and take risks and start enterprises. Debating that is another issue but the point there is that there needs to be a trigger, and that trigger isnt going to be effortless and free, it might have a cost, but when has anything ever been free in this world?

  120. This is the article that gave me cause to reinforce some of my concerns. It was in the Jordan Times of the 21st December I have not as yet seen the actual report and I do not known if it will be available in the public domain, but I found this report interesting and worrying.

    By Hani Hazaimeh

    AMMAN – The Kingdom’s Islamist parties are the least concerned with human rights among other political parties in the country, according to a study revealed on Sunday.

    The study, which was conducted by the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR), categorised the country’s 15 political parties into four groups – Islamists, nationalists, leftists and moderates.

    It used a content analysis methodology that reviewed each party’s agenda, principles and objectives as well as their activities to assess the extent to which they focus on human rights, said Nitham Barakat, who headed the team that compiled the study……………………The 102-page study showed that Islamic parties’ charters made the least mention of equality, accounting for only 13.64 per cent of all references to equality in party charters. In comparison, moderate parties accounted for 33.64 per cent of such references………………………Barakat explained that the founding documents of leftist and Islamic parties do not include any references to the right to life, freedom of movement or freedom from torture and cruel treatment, whereas moderate and nationalist parties stress these rights in their agendas………

    On another point. If a sense of being disenranchised is a valid excuse for apathy, India might still be ruled by the British, South Africa would be in the thrall of apartheid, and the Czech Republic would still be Czechoslavakia under communist rule. So I totally agree with Yet Another Jordanian@ Making your voice heard isnt just about yelling and typing, its about doing. Making an effort despite whatever obstacles are in the way, to overcome and create solutions to the problems. Nas’ recent post also finds a resonance with me.

  121. “The study, which was conducted by the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR), categorised the country’s 15 political parties into four groups – Islamists, nationalists, leftists and moderates. ”

    pretending jordan has political parties .. thats cute

  122. Dear Nas,

    I have placed a blog on your site since around 2 months or so ref my ordeal with obtaining my JOrdanian Nationality. I’m thankful for your offer to assist me and I did supply you with all the supporting documents.

    I had planned and executed an investment of 4 million JOD on airport grounds fopr Jordan (you know my full story by now).

    I spent 15 years in my company and chose to come to Jordan; his Majesty the King was so generous in offering me the Jordanian Nationality by means of a ‘Royal’ instruction and since over a year now.

    No one in Jordan from X-PM or any of the senior people that heard my story cared even to help, assist or even clarify to me why was I deprived of what is my right.Would you think the new PM would take an interest in giving me my Jordanian Nationality based on the order of His Majesty – or may be you could help in making my voice and case reach his desk..??

    You are a free journalist and I respect your blog and your professional way of objectively looking at things; so can I bother you with getting my voice heard..!!! Thanks

  123. HELL ****! I thought politics in my country is hell bad. but, reading the news that his grandpa, his father and he himself are PMs, i found that, this is s***! And, his father is counsel of honorary and he is the PM is something real bull****! Shit on those corrupt people! Yalla7 boi….

  124. a great article in herald tribune that desribes it as it is

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/23/world/middleeast/23amman.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=jordan&st=cse

    AMMAN, Jordan — In recent days, King Abdullah II, popularly perceived in the West as being among the most enlightened Middle East leaders, has dismissed the prime minister and replaced him with a palace aide and loyalist, dissolved Parliament and postponed legislative elections for a year.

    The king’s decisions were widely seen here as an effort to free the government from a recalcitrant legislature so it could push through financial measures viewed as essential to shoring up an economy burdened by debt and deficit. The Parliament, dissolved midway through its term, had opposed cuts in spending and the reduction of business taxes, key components of the government’s financial plan.

    While King Abdullah often talks about human rights and democracy, the reality here is often quite different, rights advocates say. Last month the internal security forces were criticized by human rights groups when two prisoners died in custody.

    The king’s recent moves, while aimed at fiscal management, demonstrate the leadership’s continued intention to manipulate and suppress the political process, former officials and political commentators said.

    “The nature of humans is they want democracy,” said Ali Dalain, an independent member of the Parliament that was dissolved. “Since 1993, democracy in Jordan has been receding. One person cannot solve all problems and cannot make everyone happy, so people must share in determining their fate.”

    The king tried to blunt that criticism by ordering the government to rework an unpopular election law that limits the ability of voters to select their representatives. But even allies of the government conceded that there was little chance of substantially altering the law, which was instituted in 1993 to keep power out of the hands of certain groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization.

    “There are no fundamental changes; we should not be under any illusions,” said Nawaf Tell, a Foreign Ministry official who is director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. “Yes, I read the newspapers; hopes are high, but this is not the case, that’s not what is going to happen.”

    The king’s credentials as a proponent of democracy were further undermined when he delayed legislative elections and then announced that there would be elections for new local councils, a move termed political sleight of hand by those calling for free elections for Parliament. The councils would have no legislative or decision-making authority, officials said, but would instead work as local administrators and troubleshooters.

    “These councils have no political identity, and they will use the councils to improve Jordan’s image,” said Rohile Gharaibeh, deputy secretary general for the Islamic Action Front, the political party for the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. “This will be how they try to distract people.”

    When the king first moved against Parliament and promised to fix the much maligned election law, many groups praised the decision. As the economy has soured, with unemployment around 13 percent, the legislature has developed a reputation for self-interest and incompetence. It also lacked legitimacy because of accusations of vote-buying and fraud in the last election, though former officials say it was the intelligence service that oversaw the electoral manipulation.

    Jordan’s actions are nothing out of the ordinary in the Middle East, where kings, emirs, sultans and presidents rely on elected institutions to claim legitimacy and give citizens the perception they have a stake in the direction of the state, political experts said. But those institutions have little independent power or authority. In Egypt, officials in 2006 delayed local elections for two years, saying they would use that time to improve the democratic conditions, though those improvements have not occurred.

    When Jordan’s king dissolved Parliament, he also instructed the government to ensure that future elections were a “model of transparency and justice.” By doing that, he focused attention on the election law that was put in effect in 1993 by his father, King Hussein.

    The law shifted control of Parliament away from heavily populated urban centers, with a majority of Palestinians and Islamist supporters, to more rural, tribal-dominated areas. The election law has been preserved over the years because it permitted some degree of public political participation, while allowing the government to preserve a social balance that it sees as essential to keeping Islamists from taking power, and keeping Jordanians of Palestinian origin from winning political control. Of the six million Jordanians, at least half are ethnic Palestinians.

    Government supporters say changing the law would undermine the identity of the state and diminish the prospects for the two-state solution to the crisis between the Palestinians and the Israelis. But critics contend that the election law has been used as a political tool to protect old-guard interests.

    “I don’t think that King Hussein, when he designed the election law, thought it would reach the situation we are in today,” said Mustafa Hamarneh, a former director of the Center for Strategic Studies, who now edits a weekly magazine. “But there are conservatives who believe that this is the best way to maintain stability.”

    For the moment, the king has focused on the day-to-day management of a struggling economy. The national debt is headed toward $14 billion this year at the same time that the economy is contracting as a result of the global financial crisis. The king rolled out his final reshuffling on Monday, when he swore in a new prime minister, Samir Rifai, 43, a businessman and former palace adviser.

    Referring to the flurry of royal decisions, Musa Maaytah, Jordan’s minister of political development, said, “The most important thing now is how to develop political life and increase the participation of citizens.”

    Mr. Maaytah holds a post that Jordan says was created to demonstrate the kingdom’s commitment to improving the political environment. But the ministry is also seen as the weakest in the cabinet, political analysts said, a perception underscored in part by there having been seven ministers in the six years the post has existed.

    Mr. Maaytah said he hoped the situation in Jordan would improve, but acknowledged that the jury was still out. “I was against dissolving the Parliament,” he conceded.

    Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting.

  125. Greetings All!

    Thank God for this blog! It’s one of the few where we can express ourselves freely with what’s happening n Jordan nowadays. More to say in days to come…

    Regards,

  126. I found this forum when I was looking up the news of Samir becoming PM in Jordan, a friend from our college days in Boston had just told me about it and I couldn’t believe it.
    It is refreshing to read this articles and your comments, I am not Jordanian, but fascinated by the position it has in the Middle East and it’s history. I studied Political Science in Boston in the ’80s and had many Jordanian friends back then.
    When I met Samir, I thought it was an incredible opportunity to talk to someone who’s family was part of Jordan’s history, so interesting !!…more like ,so disappointing…
    He was a nice person, but he just lived in another world. One of luxuries and favors, he went to Harvard because of who his father was, didn’t go much to class, changed his BMW every year for a newer model, lived in a very nice apartment, went shopping in Milan every summer before arriving in Boston……this is the Samir I knew, nice person, well mannered and very ,very spoiled.
    The one serious political conversation we ever had ,ended when I asked him if there were any parties in Jordan….to which he answered : “Yes, we have lots of parties in Jordan…with great music and everything.”
    He never got that I meant “political” parties…..
    Good luck, I loved reading this forum and it gives me hope to find a different view of Jordan, and such well educated people writing in it.
    I’ll be checking it from my part of the world.

  127. Reply to Boston in the 80’s…

    Kudos to you!!

    You were right on target. He was the same when I and Samir were living in the same area in Amman. He was rotten spoiled, controlling, manipulating because of who his father was, bragging how one day he will become PM in Jordan without having to even worry or prove himself to earn the post. He is obsessed with power and public positions and has an imature side with an ego… too bad for Jordan and the message his appointment sends to other Jordanians…

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