Regions? Political Reform? Scratch that..

The regions “project” was introduced as the King’s idea for “our gradual” approach to “reform”. After its introduction the “idea” has been under attack from different fronts. Just today the king met with some officials and journalists, and the names suggest that they are mainly the people who were vocal against the idea.

Basically, the king “reintroduced” the “idea” as a project mainly aimed at giving people more say in economic and developmental decision making within their region. The new name for the project is : “decentralization”. Oh my, how novel is that? In a way what they are saying is:let us just make nepotism and corruption local.

OK. Here is what I think, all of this is BS. Looking at local politics recently one can see that the king is no longer in charge as he used to be (Or think he is), sadly the powers he “surrendered” were captured by the same people who created an artificial bubble around him. By doing this he is alienating the already weak reform forces in Jordan and empowering those who are holding us back.

The late King Hussein adopted a “reform” agenda only after the rising in the south which started in Maan in 1989. In his 2008 Book about the life of King Hussein, Dr. Nigel Ashton tells the story about the 1989 rising and the king’s decision to restore political life in Jordan, he specifically quotes the king talking about the elections as being a way to allow the people to “let some steam off”.  Ashton, reached a conclusion that maybe obvious for many that the king truly believed that  he knows what is best for Jordan, thus in king Hussein’s view any “democratization” and “reform” will only hamper his efforts to move Jordan “forward”.

King Abdullah, I believe, started his rule as being different from King Hussein, he seemed more open and more aggressive in his local reform agenda, but sadly, lately we have seen him regress in his positions toward reform. His majesty is now surrounded by the same “dependable” people his father surrounded himself with. Dependability ,of course, is subjective, thus those who are viewed as being dependable by the regime are not viewed in the same way by the people-at least the people who are not being co-opted in one way or another. The people around the king seem to have been successful in convincing him that local reform shouldn’t be pursued until the Palestinian issue is solved, and the king bought it.

I wandered all around in this post, but let us keep an eye on what the journalists who were invited to meet the king will have to say in the coming days, namely, Fahed Elkheitan,  Sameeh Maaita, and Mohannad Mbaideen. Interestingly, Elkheitan’s piece published before the meeting with king was about the regime’s policy of diverting attention with regards to political reform by focusing on expanding personal freedoms and “equality” and selling those fake attemps as true reform to donors who keep the regime alive.

Let me finish this post with an example of the over abundant irony we have in Jordan: The anti-corruption committee handed its report to Abdel Elhadi Elmajali. HA.

Oh, and happy press freedoms day.

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4 Responses

  1. I think you are not quite correct here. The first mentioning of the project was through a letter prepared by the King in 2005 asking for a plan for ‘decentralisation” for empowerrment of local governance and local budget allocations. Then the Committee made up of the likes of Zeid Rifa’, Rawabdeh, Majali and co simply divided Jordan to three regions and submitted its recommendations. When the plan was introduced for debate with the current government it was criticised. Both Rawabdeh and Majali chracteristically pulled back from the recommendations leaving Dhahbi to fight alone and then the King dismissed the three regions proposal and embraced the principle of “the governorate as a development entity” supported by the majority of comments raised in the last two months. Again it was the spineless nature of the political elite in this country that led to confusion.

  2. But batir, I recall the king talking about the regions plan in an interview with ABC in 2005. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter whose idea it was, what matters more is that lately the king has been put in the forefront of many failed projects. He was not able to defend his man basem awadallah, the decent living initiative, and now the regions..Oh and don’t forget his promise for “clean” elections in 2007..Kollna Alordon, Jordan First, and what else..They all were utter failures.

    On a side note, don’t you think that the political elite are becoming more powerful than the king? It like we becoming more and more like egypt..

  3. I agree with you that a lot of the people the King trusted have failed to deliver. Even worse, got engaged in corruption scenarios and degraded a lot of the credibility of the initiatives. Now what we have is a dangerous process of deflating hope. A lot of initiativs were launched with great hope and then got derailed. I think the focus will be now on designing “systems of delivery” for royal initiatives that is trusted and transparent before launching such initiatives.
    And yes, we are becoming more and more like Egypt in a lot of political, economic an social contexts. What I used to read about Egypt five years ago is happenning in Jordan now. The resembelence is striking.

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