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.


Your Jordanian Conspiracy Dose(s)

An internal crisis is brewing and a huge backlash is beginning to take place on the Jordanian “political” platform. The root of this is the government’s move to remove its reservations with regards to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). 

They basically opened Pandora’s box; the IAF (Islamic Action Front) says that the convention is aimed at destroying families. Saleh Armouti is singing the same lyrics.

Ammannet has a very good and comprehensive  report on the issue.

It will be interesting to see how the debate around the issue will shape up..

Like father, like son

The Majali Clan, or shall I call the majali royal family is at it again just like they have been at it forever.  Jameel El Nimri of Alghad reports on a case which stinks so bad that I can taste it in my mouth.

Long story short, The “Decent House for Decent Living royal initiative(surprise)” which was supposed to offer affordable living for the poor proved to be an opportunity to steal and suck more blood out of our national “wealth”. Sahel El majali- the son of the all too powerful Abdel hadi El majali- who was the minister of public works and housing created an entity to manage the process. Only two parties participated in the bidding, the military and another coalition called the decent housing coalition, and not surprsingly a main partner in this coalition is a company owned by the one and only Sahel El majali!!

The semi governmental entity was shut by the new minister who switched posts with Sahel El majali in the recent governmental shuffle.

Oh, the manager of the now shut entity was paid a monthly salary of JD8000, and the running cost for that entity which has done absolutely nothing was JD1,000,000. [Source]


Update on Majali’s interview

This guy never fails to amaze me. Now that he read what he said, he criticized the editors and the interviewers for not “editing” the interview(i.e. didn’t make him look good).


Abdel Hadi El Majali: I am the state.

In his interviewwith Alghad news paper El Mmajali who got to the parliment by collecting less than 4,000 votes offered his diagnosis of the current state of affairs in Jordan.

– Only islamists will benefit from changing the one-man 0ne-vote law.

OK, Mr. Majali, only you and your alikes are benefiting from not changing the law that is specially designed to marginalize Jordanians of Palestinian origin.

– On the regions, which were advocated for by the king, Majali implicitly implies that he is not in its favor.

– On Rawabdeh: He didn’t show up, not my problem.

See, Rawabdeh wants his son to be a minister just like Majali’s son.

– The era of external threats is over, we are now entering the era of internal threats;takfiri ideology is gaining ground, thus we created the national party to offer an alternative for the youth.

Hmmm, great, so I either become a tool for the regime and the likes of majali or I might end up with bin-laden like beard! The underlying tone also implies a call for a “tougher” stance with regards to opposition regardless of its source.

– The new national party main goals will be defending the great national achievements and representing the great majority.

Great! They will be state party. As if we didn’t know that!

– The existence of this party will help the decision maker(i.e. the king) when faced with external pressures.

What he really means: If the king decides to pursue any policies that the party doesn’t agree with,well…

– For years we have been suffering as a result of the weakness of the government, the reason behind such failure is the lack of solid support from the base(i.e. the people).

Mr. Majali, the same thing applies to the Parliament.

– When we are finished with establishing the party, our plan for governing will be ready.

I can imagine the results, and they don’t look pretty.

– Until we reach a state were islamist will loose an election, nothing will change with regards to the elections law.

This is absurd! He is saying: We can’t let them win, so we don’t change anything until some other political party (i.e. my party) is capable of winning the elections.

Plus, check out Mohammad Abu Rummans take on the interview.

On institutionalizing racism, favoritism, and sexism at the same time.

Another Excellent pieceby amman net on the issue of granting citizenship to the children of Jordanian women. 

When taken from the perspective of equality between Jordanian men and women the issue can be viewed through a sexism lens. But when viewed from a HUMAN perspective it becomes a broader issue that epitomize racism and favoritism in our society, and as a result it becomes a taboo issue that touches on everything from national security to the economy. The underlying logic is flawed to say the least. 

Excerpts from the piece that make your stomach turn:

يعود قانون الجنسية الأردنية ساري المفعول إلى العام 1954، حيث تنص المادة الرابعة منه..على أن لكل عربي “الحق” في الإقامة في المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية مدة لا تقل عن خمس عشرة سنة متتالية لكي يحصل على الجنسية الأردنية “بقرار” من مجلس الوزراء “بناء على تنسيب” من وزير الداخلية إذا تخلى عن جنسيته الأصلية بإقرار خطي وكانت قوانين بلاده تجيز له ذلك وبشرط. 

You have to reside in Jordan for 15 years, then you can become a citizen.This decision has to be made by the ministers council given that you give up your other arab nationality. Leaving the unnecessary power granted to the ministers aside, one can see that this law is reflective of a paranoia of arab states, because you can have the nationality of Jordan and any other country that is not arab. The regime at the 50’s maybe feared the ambitions’ of the Syrians, their Iraqi cousins, the Egyptians, and even the Saudis, but I think we are way beyond this era.

And here where it becomes truly sickening:

مصدر رفيع في وزارة الداخلية تمنى عدم التطرق إلى الموضوع نظرا لحساسيته لكنه أكد “حق” الداخلية في عدم إبداء السبب في منع “منح الجنسية أو التجنس” لطالبها.

A senior official in the interior ministry said that this subject should remain off limits due to its sensitivity, stating they they have the right not to disclose the reasons behind such policies. See, they have the right to not give any reasons, but we don’t have the right to ask why. HA.

Amman net ends the piece with their summary of the requirements to become a citizen, some of which are just, well, you decide what they are best described as. 

 On a side note: Queen Rania don’t you think that you should tackle issues that are closer to home? I mean it is a great photo op, but wouldn’t be greater if you worked harder on giving the women of Jordan their rights? Or what about the 25 or so maids that died so far this year in Jordan? Or again, what about the-I d0n’t know how many- honor crime victims? What about the sexual harassment that many of our school children go through? I mean Come on! And by the way, who pays for such trips?

The regions BS Plus vote on what region you’d rather live in?

This is an excerpt from ammannet’s piece on the regions issue in Jordan, an initiative led by the king(WOHOOO) who promised that we will begin to reap the benefits of this project very soon, and indeed we did:

ويتلخص مشروع الاقاليم في إقامة ثلاثة أقاليم عرضية: شمال وتضم إربد، جرش، عجلون، المفرق، ووسط تضم الزرقاء، البلقاء، مادبا، والعاصمة، باستثناء أمانة عمان الكبرى، وجنوب تضم الكرك، الطفيلة، معان، والعقبة مع مراعاة أحكام سلطتي إقليمي العقبة والبتراء باعتبارهما مناطق تنموية خاصة.

يكون لكل إقليم مجلس محلي منتخب بواقع عشرة أفراد من كل محافظة يشكلون في مجموعهم أربعين فردا منتخبا بآليات الانتخاب العام والسري والمباشر، يضاف إليهم فرد واحد يعينه مجلس الوزراء لكل محافظة ليكون عضوا في المجلس المحلي بواقع أربعة على الأقل معينين ضمن مجلس الإقليم، يتم انتخاب رئيس مجلس الإقليم ونائبه ومساعدين اثنين له انتخابا داخليا بين أفراد المجلس.

ويعين مجلس الوزراء لكل إقليم مفوضا عاما برتبة وزير يرتبط إداريا برئيس الوزراء، ويحدد النظام اختصاصاته. يشكل في كل إقليم مكتب تنفيذي يرأسه المفوض العام للإقليم، ويتولى الإشراف على إدارة الأجهزة الرسمية في الإقليم ومراقبة عملها، وإعداد الخطط الاقتصادية والاجتماعية، وعرضها على المجلس المحلي لاتخاذ القرار المناسب بشأنها ضمن الخطة العامة للدولة، بالإضافة إلى المهام والصلاحيات الأخرى المحددة في النظام.

I am in no mood to translate the excerpt, but basically there is a commissioner for each region to be APPOINTED by the government, the same appointed commisioner will create an executive office that will oversee the management of the official bodies in the Territory and  its work. The executive office will also be responsible for the preparation of economic and social plans and presenting them to the local council to take appropriate decisions that shall fall  within the general “plan” of the “State”. This in addition to other functions and powers specified in the system. 

Basically this is what it is: a charade to impress the international community and preempt any efforts by the new US administration to push for reforms in Jordan. The PM himself mistakenly(but truthfully) said so before being slapped on the hand by the king who later said that all of our reform efforts come from beliefs held by the leadership and the people(Yeah right).  It can also be an effort to delay any reform with regards to policy making in the country as whole. This policy of delaying tactics is nothing new to the regime and government of Jordan and so far they have been very successful in doing so, but the hope is that the locals and the international community are no longer stupid(or maybe turning a blind eye).  

Oh, and don’t forget the added bureaucratic bodies. Splendid!

BS, Period.