The Atlantic Article On King Abdullah: One Jordanian’s Perspective

kingatlantic

In the past 48 hours, the lengthy article published in The Atlantic, based on various interviews conducted with HM King Abdullah, has been making the media rounds. (For those who haven’t read it, please take a look here, as my goal is not to summarize it). Suffice to say, it’s made waves locally despite the fact that probably 99% of the people have not read it and local media has stayed away from offering a complete translation (which has caused even more confusion).

Why has it made waves? Possibly because this is the most candid and in-depth interview we’ve ever seen involving the King, which makes it obviously relevant in the Arab Spring era. Roughly 24 hours after its publication the local Internet pretty much exploded, and rejection of it followed from the state, with a report quoting unnamed sources at the Royal Hashemite Court (RHC) claiming that it “contained many inaccuracies” and that the King’s words “were taken out of context.”

The author of the piece, Jeffrey Goldberg, has confirmed via Twitter that both he and the RHC have recordings of the interview, so it may be safe to assume that the piece is in no position to be dismissed. Nevertheless, many of the King’s supporters have rushed to his defense, with reactions ranging from “he never said any of that” and “it was probably all off the record”, to accusations of the author being a Zionist propagandist who has an Israeli agenda bent on creating chaos in Jordan (despite his 14 year relationship with the King and full access). On the other side of the spectrum, you have people who feel somewhat insulted by some of the King’s remarks, specifically those referring to Jordanian tribal leaders as “dinosaurs”, or his demonization of the Muslim Brotherhood as a “masonic cult”. Others have merely shrugged their shoulders, believing that the piece offers no new insight.

While public perceptions vary, the piece puts the King in a fairly positive light, and he comes off as blunt and transparent – openly speaking his mind on the realities he’s dealing with. However, that bluntness came in the form of comments that some have deemed to be controversial in nature and international media has been quick to highlight these comments.

The following are my thoughts on the piece and specifically on what the King himself said as opposed to the author’s perspectives.

First off, yes, the piece was obviously intended for a western audience, and therein lies the central problem. The picture of the King that emerges is one of a leader who, at heart, is a reformist and a modernizer but has been unable to carry out his agenda for 14 years because the General Intelligence Department and tribal conservatives (the “dinosaurs”) have been too powerful a force, working against him or rejecting his changes. In other words, the portrait of a leader the West can sympathize with emerges. It’s an image that sells well in the Western hemisphere but if you simply live in Jordan, you probably recognize the holes in that picture.

For starters, it is difficult for me to fathom that an absolute Monarch is unable to “control” forces within his own security apparatus – and if this is the case then we’re left with the assumption that this security apparatus operates beyond the King’s reach, which is a very troubling piece of information and ends up merely tarnishing the King’s power. This is something that has been repeated a few times publically over the past two years, but I fail to see the virtue or value in having a media strategy that makes a leader appear helpless. At the end of the day, most Jordanians (including myself) are unaware of the true relationship between the King and the GID, nor the extent to which this body operates within the larger framework of the country. It is simply a body that receives simultaneous respect and fear from the overwhelming majority. The quotes in this article are probably the first of their kind to shed light on that relationship.

And as for conservative forces – this is just as troublesome for me. For while the GID remains a mystery, subject to rumors and assumptions, political appointments are not. And the overwhelming majority of the people the King appoints and the names he puts his Royal stamp of approval on, are simply put, old guard conservatives. It is difficult to paint that picture of a leader who recognizes the Arab Spring as this grand “opportunity” he’s been waiting for to reform, but then whose first move in the midst of that spring is to appoint a Prime Minister straight out of the security apparatus who was last brought in to power after the 2005 Amman bombings. It is difficult to maintain that image when you form a national dialog committee, or a Royal commission to amend the constitution, an then appoint old guard politicians to lead it. It is difficult to maintain that image when many of the key reformist initiatives of the past two years, including the election law and the constitutional amendments, were done predominantly behind closed doors with little national consultation beyond the mere sycophantic musings of a parliament that was supposedly legitimate but then subsequently dissolved in order to pave the way for yet another election. That’s to say nothing of a press law that continues to offer nothing short of a stranglehold on freedom of speech, and a population of university students who are too afraid to practice political freedom on their own campuses (and rightly so). And so on, and so forth – that list of contradictions is pretty long.

In short, while this image works for western audiences, I really find it difficult to conjure up similar sympathies given that the policies, laws, and political maneuverings we’ve seen come out of the state for the past 14 years are not indicative of the characteristics this image is supposed to present. However, my point here is not to simply say ‘the King says one thing but does another’, but rather to say that this media strategy is no longer sustainable. In fact, it’s a terrible one.

One of the biggest lessons to be taken away from The Atlantic article is regarding the communication policy of the Royal Hashemite Court, which seems to still be using a 1992 playbook. In the digital age, the whole “speak to western audiences in one language and to a local audience in another” approach is no longer functional or feasible. The World Wide Web will find it in a matter of seconds, retweet it and share it within a matter of minutes, translate it and publish it for local consumption within the hour. In the digital age, shit hitting the fan is unhindered by physical limitations – everything is or can be made accessible. Subsequently, the communication strategy not only needs to change – an entire radical paradigm shift needs to occur. And watching the government scramble to “contain” this is a further testament to why that shift is needed.

A shift towards what? How about honesty? If we’re going to really be honest and if we’re going to be transparent and blunt about things, then lets. If the King came out and, for instance, said to his people: ‘let’s shelve reform for now – we live in an increasingly unstable region and are faced with new destabilizing forces such as Syria, and we need to buckle down for the time being’ – then I would have no problem with that kind of honesty. I might not agree with the decision, but I’d recognize where he’s coming from and respect the fact that no one is trying to peddle me something I’m not buying. But holding on to this media strategy that paints this kind of contradictory picture insults the intelligence of many. To quote the King from the article:

“…if we’re going to sit here and bullshit each other, then we might as well have a cup of tea and then say goodbye. If you want to have a serious conversation…here’s where we start.’ ”

We start by being honest with each other; by being honest with what’s really happening in Jordan. Until that happens, I find progress and reform to be unattainable. This seems to be our biggest obstacle to change right now.

Second, I actually find it difficult to find anything in the article that the King directly said, which I would categorize as a fallacy. Personally, I largely agree with much of what he said, and disagree with other things, but find nothing so objectionable that we would rush to categorize it as “scandalous”. Are there conservative forces that have no interest in reform and wish to maintain the status quo? Yes. Are most of the country’s political parties (be it the brotherhood or Majali’s party) underdeveloped and have no logical political platforms? Yes. Does the Muslim Brotherhood have regional connections and questionable political agendas? Probably.

But while I am no fan of the Muslim Brotherhood, I don’t think demonizing them is the smartest move when you’re the leader of a country where they play a significant political force (like it or not). Such attempts only help to further polarize matters, allowing Islamists to further consolidate their base, and anti-Islamists to become even more aggressively so. It doesn’t really change anyone’s mind or help bring a somewhat socially divided nation together; a role the article claims that the King envisions his son might inherit.

But when it comes to the “realities” the King highlights, there should be some recognition that many of these realities are largely of his own government’s doing. For instance, the East Banker tribal relationship, which this article (and many others) paints as one based on quid-pro-quo is one that was established by the monarchy from the onset, and is a relationship that has grown over the years. The patronage system, land allocations, gifts, university seats for the privileged few, vast public sector employment – all of this has expanded in the past 14 years, not decreased. This over-reliance on government to solve all problems is based on that relationship having thrived over the past few years.

The GID is beyond criticism in the country and anyone who would do so in, say, mainstream media, would likely end up sleeping in a jail cell or tried in front of a military court. Any institution that is beyond criticism is subsequently beyond accountability – and that creates a situation where it is allowed to grow in power, unchecked. The fact that one of its recent chiefs (circa 2007) committed massive electoral fraud and is behind bars for stealing millions is testament to that. Again, this too is a reality created by the state.

The King also notes that in a meeting with young Jordanians he told them that they “…have no concept of left, right, and center,” when it comes to an American style democracy that he seems to want to see happen in Jordan. This is somewhat true – most Jordanians are not necessarily politically aligned in to three neat ideological boxes. But aside from the question of why they should be organizing themselves in to said boxes at all, the natural question that arises for me is how are young Jordanians supposed to have developed these advanced political sensibilities when most of their political mobilization or activities over the past few decades have been met with contempt? In Jordan, parents who send their kids off on the first day of university tend to have one key warning for them: don’t get involved in politics. Their warnings are only logical given the subverted political environment in the academic realm to say nothing of beyond the university gates. To say nothing of the lacking role in our educational system that has failed to promote critical thinking, a comprehensive national history (now substituted with nationalism), let alone the kind of pragmatic political thought the King yearns for. Instead, they get speeches on why they should vote in elections that favor tribalism.

At the end of the day, all I can say is that, just like the King, I’m pretty fatigued with the system. Our inability to be honest about who we are and how we got to this point is really holding this country back. We barely acknowledge the problem, but when we do, we just blame it on “the realities of the country” despite the fact that many of these realities are of the state’s own creation.

People react to the environment that has been created for them. If it’s an environment of privilege and entitlement to a select few – then you’re not going to get a forward thinking meritocratic population, and you’re not going to get a sense of social justice. If you appoint conservatives to high-level posts, you’re not going to get people suddenly demanding liberal reformists. And if many of those appointed end up being charged with corruption (years and years after the fact) – then you’re not going to get a population that has much trust in government. Similarly, if you have a one-man one-vote system in a heavily tribal country, you’re going to have voters voting only for their relatives and you’re not going to get much political party development. Similarly, if you approve restrictive media laws, you end up with a subverted media landscape, and subsequently high self-censorship, less transparency, and less accountability. Similarly, if you surround yourself with what one can only describe as out of touch elitists, then the picture they paint for you isn’t going to be an accurate one, and they’ll spend most of their time shielding you from certain realities in the name of preserving the status quo. None of this is good for the country. None of it has been good for the country.

Suffice to say, the King’s got a lot on his plate. But what this article demonstrated for me (aside from the fact that there is an outdated media strategy that invests a great deal of time in setting and putting out fires) – is that there is a reciprocal relationship between a leader and his followers. While the King does indeed enjoy a great deal of support from the population for a wide variety of reasons, the article and his own words suggests that he doesn’t have the kind of support he’s looking for, or the kind he wants. And given the environment that was created and continues to be largely sustained, that comes as no surprise.

Changing that environment starts with all us being honest with each other about our realities, how they came about, why they continue to exist, and collectively figuring out how to change them.

Thought Is Free...

50 Comments

  1. I must say it has been a whole scince I read your blog naseem but sure I’m glad that I managed to read the whole thing through a tiny iphone screen with a cold beer on the side , you sure do put a light on corners that are left out and have an amazing talent in stating the story from an objectively subjectively diplomaticly stated Blunt prospective , hats off for that, well done :) it’s good to back to your blog

  2. I disagree…

    Do you really think the PR team in the Royal Hashemite Court is that stupid? Or do you believe that they thought this would only be reached by the Western audiences? Do you really think this is a “media strategy” in which HM the King can say anything to Western media? Do you think HM and the PR team are that naive? Is this the first foreign media piece for HM that goes viral in Jordan more than what it reached in the West?

    I just can’t agree with this idea…

  3. Dear D.Yusuf >>>Really excellent article ,and i raise up my hat for you.
    A shift towards what ? How about honesty ? If we’re going to really be honest and if we’re going to be transparent and blunt about things, then lets. If the King came out and, for instance, said to his people: ‘let’s shelve reform for now – we live in an increasingly unstable region and are faced with new destabilizing forces such as Syria, and we need to buckle down for the time being’ – then I would have no problem with that kind of honesty. I might not agree with the decision, but I’d recognize where he’s coming from and respect the fact that no one is trying to peddle me something I’m not buying. But holding on to this media strategy that paints this kind of contradictory picture insults the intelligence of many. To quote the King from the article:
    “…if we’re going to sit here and bullshit each other, then we might as well have a cup of tea and then say goodbye. If you want to have a serious conversation…here’s where we start.’ ” … We start by being honest with each other; by being honest with what’s really happening in Jordan. Until that happens, I find progress and reform to be unattainable. This seems to be our biggest obstacle to change right now.( This what i like most ) Thank you for in-lighting and explain for us ,wish they read

  4. Dear D.Yusuf… I raise up my hat for you …
    A shift towards what? How about honesty? If we’re going to really be honest and if we’re going to be transparent and blunt about things, then lets. If the King came out and, for instance, said to his people: ‘let’s shelve reform for now – we live in an increasingly unstable region and are faced with new destabilizing forces such as Syria, and we need to buckle down for the time being’ – then I would have no problem with that kind of honesty. I might not agree with the decision, but I’d recognize where he’s coming from and respect the fact that no one is trying to peddle me something I’m not buying. But holding on to this media strategy that paints this kind of contradictory picture insults the intelligence of many. To quote the King from the article:

    “…if we’re going to sit here and bullshit each other, then we might as well have a cup of tea and then say goodbye. If you want to have a serious conversation…here’s where we start.’ ”

    We start by being honest with each other; by being honest with what’s really happening in Jordan. Until that happens, I find progress and reform to be unattainable. This seems to be our biggest obstacle to change right now.
    ( this what i like most ) Thank you for the article ..wish many read this . God bless you .

  5. I agree with Bahaa’ Awartany’s comment above: it’s hard to believe that on one hand there is Queen Rania using the internet and social media professionally and on the other hand there is the King’s PR team who don’t understand the dinamics of it.

  6. The problem I have with the angle that this was meant for “outside consumption” is the remarks regarding 3 state leaders. Now, the king has been outspoken about Assad for a while, but I don’t understand him going after Egypt’s Morsi; who Jordan is dependent on for discounted gas, and Turkey’s Erdogan; who on the surface is playing a role in Syria that is very similar to that of Jordan’s and the king’s.

    Puzzling to me.

  7. Great read Nasseem. Unfortunately, we are all assuming there is indeed a media / communications strategy followed…if there is anything this episode has demonstrated (not on content rather process), it is that there is a lack of direction on how media and communications are charted out for a head of state. There is simply no strategy, no communications policy. There are only reactions and backtracking. There is no forward proactive outlook. A communications strategy should be part and parcel of the political strategy in place. You have to practice what you preach. At an institution such as RHC, the media should be engaged, consulted, and utilized to explain policy and help advance it. It cannot be the last ingredient. How you communicate your platform as a leader is key…it helps assess your positions, amend if necessary and ultimately it contributes to shaping your legacy as a leader. You are absolutely correct in your analysis of the media environment today…this episode has cast a dark shadow on how poorly the myriad modern media tools are utilized – or not at all utilized -by officialdom. There are plenty of young, intelligent, media savvy and forward thinking Jordanian men and women who should be given a a chance to give input on how to strategize for the best possible outcome. We shouldn’t be outsourcing this task to western consulting firms which often see our region and our issues through a narrow orientalist prism. Empower your own, breed the next generation of strategists, analysts and sound advisors.

  8. I almost gained faith in the King after reading the article but at the same time was shocked to how weak he is. He blamed everyone around him but himself. He blamed his government, the tribes, GID and others and I think he could take a look back at himself and admit where he went wrong. It’s never too late and I think there is time for him to fix things. I agree with most of his comments especially Palestinians not being given proper representation in the country. This is the biggest social disorder in the Jordanian society and the sad part is everyone is pretending there is nothing wrong. I agree the dinosaurs and GID are gradually destroying the country with their narrow vision. The Palestinians constitute over 50% of the society and this is a fact. We have to be honest with ourselves and define who is a Jordanian. If the tribes want to exclude 60 to 70% of the population, there needs to be a serious dialogue.

  9. @Sammy. The King did own up to his and his fathers mistakes.

    As for the article, I had a smile on my face while reading it. He said what we were all thinking.

  10. Ahhhh and Naseem is back. Although I disagree with a few points in your analysis, you nailed the majority of it. Lets be honest though, there is nothing insulting in this article and many of what was articulated is what the majority of us think anyway. The tribes are dinosaurs. The Muslim brotherhood has clearly demonstrated its lack of ability to lead, develop and attend to all classes of society equally in both Tunisia and Egypt. Even in Turkey it’s still highly questionable. And Morsi, well you don’t need Abdalla to tell you he lacks depth. Just listen to him speak. It should also come as no shock to anyone that monarchy is not a future business, and that his job is exhausting. Not sure about the GIA comments, but anyone who believes Jordan is an easy country to manage should think twice. All and all, it was a good piece of reporting regardless of its target audience.

  11. The million dollars question is, why now? This interview publishing time is puzzling me, did anyone think about this as well?

  12. I was in agreement with the King’s words. Because it showed that he was on the same bandwidth as many of us who do want to see reform and are fed up with the way things are. He was saying out loud what we were feeling but too afraid to say. However, if you feel your child is on the weak side let’s say in math you don’t as a parent outright say “You’re a dumb kid” but rather use words a little less harsh because as a parent you should have a long term sense of consequences. The same goes for politicians. They know their words are magnified to the million power, and therefore have to weigh what they say before saying it. Also, not a great time for Jordan to be “shaking” relationships with other countries I thought. So in summary I really liked the article but wished that the same points could have been made but in a more politically correct transparent manner (if there is such a thing) so that we wouldn’t have to work so hard defending and making excuses for something so true.

  13. Thank you Naseem for your analytic remarks, which are witty and sharp. You did an excellent job at peeling off deep layerings of meaning. It is not easy to read beneath the lines, but you were able to dissect the interview and to share your insightful comments with the readers.

    I have to admit and say that I love the king’s blunt honesty as it is rendered and shown in the heart-to-heart interview. He spoke his truth, and I could feel how he was musing over happenings here in Jordan and in the Middle East. For me, his honesty is indicative of his courage and of his love for change. We should give him credit for speaking his mind and for opening Pandora’s box. It is high time to strip naked the facts and to see them for what they are.

    Once again, thank you for your perceptive observations. An excellent read Naseem.

  14. Thank you for this wonderful article. I felt that you were speaking my mind. Despite having felt an urge to give the king a break after reading Goldberg’s article, I felt that the Jordan they were talking about is another country! Going after the tribes, after losing a sizable portion of their support, the king, I believe, is running out gas here! The reason why tribes support the king, is that they find in him the guarantor they were led to believe they need, having been outgrown, thence threatened, by the west-bankers. I agree that this policy has been bolstered by the regime for decades, and since the tribes are most likely to be under-privileged, the limited special treatment they -unevenly- get, led them to continue their support to the king. But the fact that this special treatment is not guaranteed unless you know someone to pull some strings, I believe led to an increasingly obvious frustration with this system! My main point though, is that I feel appalled with the way the king chooses to let the western media in on matters that Jordanians rightly need to know first. This is shocking! We know our king and learn about our country from the western media! I should also note that the luxurious life the royal family enjoy (taking black hawks for commute!) is rather wasteful when Jordanians are struggling to make ends meet.

  15. All the mistakes that were mentioned in the article are loaded on East Jordanians intelligence and men of the Royal Court and we are now as East Jordanians burden on all refugees and we do not want reform.. Well you find a new Balfour to find us a new country we live so as to solve the Palestinian refugees problem and make Israel feel comfortable and hide American headache from Middle East problem

  16. All the mistakes that were mentioned in the article are loaded on East Jordanians intelligence and men of the Royal Court and we are now as East Jordanians burden on all refugees and we do not want reform.. Well you find a new Balfour to find us a new country we live so as to solve the Palestinian refugees problem and make Israel feel comfortable and hide American headache from Middle East problem

  17. انا مصر اما ان تقبلها واما ان ترفضها All the mistakes that were mentioned in the article are loaded on East Jordanians intelligence and men of the Royal Court and we are now as East Jordanians burden on all refugees and we do not want reform.. Well you find a new Balfour to find us a new country we live so as to solve the Palestinian refugees problem and make Israel feel comfortable and hide American headache from Middle East problem

  18. Naseem,

    I think you -like everyone looking at this- have missed one crucial point; The king clearly speaks out of frustration, fatigue, and depression resulting from the fucked-up-ness of the Jordanian people (north, south, east, west, and center). Every single family in Jordan can claim to have had a minister, MP, or “Senator” from among its sons at one point or another. Everyone has been represented at some point in time. Everyone has a cousin in government, a cousin in the police, a cousin in the army, a cousin in the JID, a cousin in Jordan university, a cousin Jamaarek, a cousin in Radio and TV, a cousin in the Arab Bank, and a cousin working in one Manaseer company or the other…

    What the Jordanian people want are MPs and Ministers who can feed them mansaf, pay their electricity bills, and get their sons employed for 250 JD /month + benefits. That’s the real extent of the “people’s” ambitions.

    I think the King has been mislead by his aides. I think his mistake is trusting the wrong people, but let’s remember that those people are our sons and cousins, so let’s blame ourselves first.

    Just my point of view :)

  19. Very comprehensive article! Your articles should be translated into Arabic so that the widest variety of people can read them.
    I heard that Jeffrey Goldberg is a bad apple and does have a disrepute in media field. Why would the Royal Court debunk the one-on-one if Jeffrey claims it was unswayed?
    But all in all, forged or not, it was very true at all measures, but should have been said in less caustic way esp. the dinosaurs and wolves part (though I agree with it) but this would topple the situation. I guess we Jordanians, should put our hands over the flame, to feel the heat. The Egyptian gas issue has really tumbled the economy down, Syrian refugees too. So I guess we shouldn’t criticize the King for everything he does, he is more aware of the status quo than anyone. Here I have to say that The Hashimate Family has fallen into mistake by trying to gain Palestinians’ endorsement over the benefit of east bankers.Thank you for your effort.

  20. Great article.
    But we have to give serious chance to our leaders rather than falling into the darkness like Syria.
    Regards

  21. Honesty as well as charity starts at home. If only our respected Monarch had been advised to speak first to his own people and not the West in this same tone, things would have been different.

    As for the tribes, they are an essential part of Jordanian culture and identity whether we like it or not. The tribal system should have been left alone starting in 1970s …and they would have evolved and developed into a true Jordanian political party with culture and home grown democracy intact. Instead of which ‘the authorities and outside interests’ kept meddling to demolish the so-called power of the tribes and we end up with a social mess, and deep seated identity crisis = vacuum taken advantage of by politicians abusing the sanctity and soul of Islam.

    For more info see the highly respected work of Dr Mohammad Abu Hassan: Turath Al Bedu Al Qada’i – Nethareeyan wa Amaleeyan (Bedouin Customary Law – Theory and Practice, first published 1974 now in its fifth reprint.)

    Let’s hope all concerned take a long hard look back into history, to enable us to go forward with our heads held high … which at the moment, are hanging very low indeed at the current state of affairs in the Middle East – where violence is the name of the game wherever it comes from … including the West that adopts the old tactic of divide and rule, and carrot and stick … their arrogance and ignorance is getting tiresome.

    Thanks for the article … very important dialogue at this point in time.

  22. In my opinion, this is all another play mastered by the GID. Painting him as the ultimate reformer with the “old guards”, as he calls them, going against him. It is also to gain some Palestinian sympathy(GID all along standing against them? NOT him). His bedrock is getting fed up so might as well check on the other side.

    For all I know, the king is extremely powerful and can change heads of GID in minutes(and put them in jail too). No one could stand against him. This means that the article and its timing were orchestrated to serve a purpose. I also heard the journalist is a friend.

    And most importantly, he’s done more interviews than most leaders. He’s no stranger to these stuff. Anyone who thinks he slipped is an idiot. And when you slip, you slip with a word or two, NOT with the whole thing filled with “scandals”. And I’m sure they sign journalists on legal documents binding them to write only what they approve.

  23. An excellent article that gives a flavour of the king and the country.

    Jordan is perhaps the only state on earth, whose ruling elite is more progressive than its masses, more democratic than its people and less- dare I say – corrupt than its ordinary citizens.

    Jordan is a country which has survived and is still alive thanks to its rulers. The Jordanian people have enjoyed a standard of living they have not dreamt of. Despite its poverty, the standards of living for the individual citizen in Jordan, have consistently exceeded those of the neighbouring countries including those gorged with oil.

    King Abdullah’s problem is that there are still not enough enlightened people, who are able and willing to support the type of reform and transition to modernity that he aspires for the country.

    Jordan is a country where you will never meet anybody who admits to have failed an exam because they performed badly, or that they were declined a job because somebody else was a better candidate. Rather it is always because the teacher or the interviewer was against him /her because he is from the East or West Bank, a Christian or Muslim, North or South Jordanian.

    You will never hear Jordanians say that their neighbour’s new grand house is the result of the neighbour’s success and entrepreneurship. Rather it is always because of drug dealing or being spy.

    In this atmosphere corruption is almost an inevitable accusation of the royals. Yet corruption permeates every level of society and is accepted and even promoted and pronounced. From doctors to engineers, from policemen and teachers to any low or high rank officials, all will tell you proudly and boast about how they “helped” their family, relatives and friends to gain some sort of advantage from the system. This is all what they could do and they did it without hesitation. No wonder then they help themselves a bit more whenever they are able to.

    Jordan is on crossroads: either its people, with its progressive political powers, side with the ruling elite and help win the fight against backwardness and reaction, or the country will loose its reason to exist.

  24. HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH II AND THE ROYAL FAMILY ARE THE PRIDE OF JORDAN AND JORDANIANS… HIS MAJESTY IS THE SYMBOL OF SECURITY AND STABILITY OF OUR BELOVED COUNTRY, NO MATTER WHAT..MEDIA TALK ALWAYS REMAINS MEDIA TALK.

  25. King Abdullah tried to gain the sympathy of the Western audience and he underestimated how well the Jordanians are tied to the internet! His objective is evident but there was some collateral damage. The King knows very well Jordanians tend to forget very quickly (not sure if they forgive once reminded?). The Atlantic article will be forgotten in 1 month in Jordan but the King will build on this article in his future “external” communications. As for the Royal Court’s PR and media department; I believe the Blogger has exaggerated their competence; their strategy is no-strategy.

  26. Good Article, insightful interpretation…
    I agree with many while I disagree with others.
    Yes. HM said what can be in the hearts and minds of many Jordanians (like me). Things that should have been said a long time ago.
    I would like to think that, those who have been called dinosaurs should not be offended. It’s meaning is not that they are bad, but they are not able to accommodate the rapid change of pace that is expected from reform. Those who were not on the same wavelength (GID) have failed to deliver what was expected of them, and where guilt was found, punishment should follow. Even in the most civilized western societies, failures can be found, and those who failed will be replaced by others.
    As to wolves, hidden agendas cannot be accepted. Custom laws for a winning formula cannot be made to each party’s liking to accommodate their chances of winning.
    HM, in my view, spoke of frustration in complete transparency. If we cannot accept honesty how bluntly it may come, we are not ready to be a democracy.
    As to why now, it was coming sooner or later. If not now, next month, or after… HM is a seasoned monarch and politician… No mistake… It’s easy to criticize anyone including HM, but are our people ready to be criticized for their faults and shortcomings??? For the first time ever in the history of Jordan to my recollection, the people and their appointed leaders (heads of tribes, parties, etc.) were criticized openly by the head of state, and the next thing you know, people are offended.

    Fellow Jordanians, do not be offended. Reform is the responsibility of every Jordanian, not HM, not GID, not tribal leaders, not parties… everyone has his share.

  27. I was very interested to read your article, but it is sad that the essay you wright is to long , more than 4 pages, which make a reader bored

  28. Thank you for an interesting essay. As an American living in México, I am a fan of your King. As someone with high numbers on the odometer, I can also say that he is human and confronting many forces, some of which are beyond his immediate control. Yet those factors he does address may render others less malleable. Perhaps the monarch was merely ‘ventillating’ in voicing some frank opinions and feelings, with the hope of shaking some people from complacency in hardened positions so they will begin to think more and, perhaps, compromise. No way to know, really. Yet I have great respect for your country, nimbly making the peace is a sad and troubled part of the world. Besides, Jordanians are among the friendliest people on earth. So, to cloase by misparaphrasing an proverb in English, “To air is human, to forebear, democratic…”

  29. I just want to see the king’s supporters admit for once that the king should take a massive part of the blame for whats going on now in Jordan. I mean the government is composed of people he assigned personally based on his own knowledge, and those same people have been accused of fraud, and I can’t comprehend the fact that the king is that blind or naive to assign such people those high political roles for perhaps the past decade, and not take any part of the blame. Either the king is functioning terribly and has no knowledge of whats going on in the street (very unlikely), or he knows the true identity of those people and he continues to assign those roles for some “unknown” reason (maybe his benefit) in which those people continue to destabilize the country and steal its wealth. If you want to argue with me then don’t swear at me, but actually for once “loyalists to Jordan” try to persuade me with your opinion, because all I can find on the street is a contradiction to my opinion with violence. All I’m trying to say is the king is not holy, and he should be discussed locally without any interference from the GID or “loyalists” because he should take part of the blame for whats going on now in Jordan. And I also want you to explain why is decision in choosing those people is continuously wrong, and what reforms have been initiated in Jordan, because there is nothing new on the streets.

  30. If a country is built in the image of the West then it will behave like a Western country: to quote this article “If it’s an environment of privilege and entitlement to a select few – then you’re not going to get a forward thinking meritocratic population, and you’re not going to get a sense of social justice.” In America the “Free Markets” and the ideology of ‘Freedom’ (as opposed to Democracy) seem to serve only the interests of the 1%. Those in glass houses etc…

  31. Actually the interview made the King look impotent, a leader who cannot affect change and who lost control of everything including the Mukhabarat. In the interview, the Abdullah II takes shots at all Jordanians both the tribes and the Islamists (the widely accepted code name for Jordanians of Palestinian origin). You can sugarcoat this PR disaster all you want but neither friend nor foe was impressed.

  32. I am puzzled as to why seemingly politically aware people in Jordan keep using the term “one-man one-vote system” when we all know that there is no such a thing in Jordan. You know Nasseem that it’s one man-3-votes in Ma3an, for example, but one-man-half-a-vote in Amman. So for God’s sake stop peddling the one-man one-vote lies so casually.

  33. تزوير الحقائق وتلفيق الواقع المر لن ينطوي على احد. هدا الملك يكدب عليكم صباحا ومساء والمستقبل والتاريخ لن يرحم

  34. couldn’t agree more! – brilliant analysis of the Atlantic article. The King’s apparent desire for a political parties spectrum that directly mirrors the West, rather than one that reflects the political culture (the development of which is reliant on the creation of a condusive environment) and salient perspectives in his own country was what astounded me most about the article. You’ve hit that nail on the head with your response in this commentary.

  35. couldn’t agree more! – brilliant analysis of the Atlantic article. The King’s apparent desire for a political parties spectrum that directly mirrors the West, rather than one that reflects the political culture (the development of which is reliant on the creation of a conducive environment) and salient perspectives in his own country was what astounded me most about the article. You’ve hit that nail on the head with your response in this commentary.

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