Controversial minister back for third stint in reshuffled Jordanian government

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz announced the appointment of eight new ministers Thursday. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 May 2019
0

Controversial minister back for third stint in reshuffled Jordanian government

  • Thursday’s reshuffle is the third since Razzaz replaced Hani Al-Mulki as prime minister amid nationwide protests against proposed tax increases and price hikes
  • The frequent government changes are seen as a way of deflecting public frustration in the country

AMMAN: Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s newly reshuffled government was on Thursday sworn in before the country’s King Abdullah.

The reorganization was marked by the appointment of political hardliner Salameh Hammad as the new minister of interior replacing the outgoing Samir Mubaideen.

It is the third time Hammad has held the interior ministerial post, his first stint being between 1993 and 1996, and his second in 2015 during the administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour.

In April 2016 Ensour was forced to ask for Hammad’s resignation after a large number of parliamentary members signed a petition expressing no confidence in him.

Haytham Erefej, a founding member of the Civil Coalition party, told Arab News that the government rejig will make things more difficult.

“This is a strange reshuffle, normally there is a goal behind the change, for example to lessen tension in the street, but this change will make the public angrier than before and this is in total contradiction to Prime Minister Omar Razzaz who was brought in as a liberal savior,” said Erefej.

Sabri Rbehat, a former Jordanian minister, questioned the need for change. “It produces no advancement in the badly needed political process,” Rbehat told Amman’s Radio Al-Balad.

Abla Abu Elba, secretary-general of the left-wing Hashd party, said: “Even though we don’t want to be pessimistic, the message in the appointment (of Hammad) signals that we will be facing a harsh position in the future.”

Jordan MP Tariq Khoury told Arab News he was opposed to appointing government Cabinet members based on a quota system rather than qualifications. “We need to end this idea of making appointments based on geography or tribalism but on qualifications,” he said.

Ali Khawaldeh, director general of the Jordanian Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, told Arab News he welcomed some of the changes particularly the renaming of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to the Ministry of Local Government. He said the new name was in accordance with “international norms” and that it will “strengthen the current decentralization efforts.”

The country’s Ministry of Telecommunications will now be called the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship with Mothana Gharabia continuing to head up the ministerial role.

Razzaz had asked on May 8 for all his ministers to resign ahead of the third reshuffle in the space of a year. It follows a change of personnel in the general intelligence directorate and at the royal court.

Bisher Al-Khasawneh was appointed as adviser to his majesty for communication and coordination as of April 23, 2019, and Maj. Gen. Ahmad Husni was appointed as director of the General Intelligence Department (GID) as of May 1.


Syrian journalist claims torture, humiliation at hands of Turkish forces while crossing border

Updated 44 min 24 sec ago
0

Syrian journalist claims torture, humiliation at hands of Turkish forces while crossing border

  • According to Al-Shami in his video, he was arrested with two of his children
  • 419 Syrian civilians – among them 75 children and 38 women – have been killed trying to cross the border since conflict began

LONDON: A Syrian journalist has claimed on his YouTube channel that he has been assaulted and beaten by Turkish forces on the Syria-Turkey border.
Mazen Al-Shami posted a video to the social media network and also posted on Facebook, saying: “After nine years of the revolution, that is how my family and I are treated.
“A Turkish officer tortured me in front of my family and tortured my children on the Syria-Turkey border, it was his reaction when he found out I was a Syrian journalist.”
Al-Shami ended the post with the hashtags #Thank_You_Turkey and #Thank_You_Hotel_Opposition with a number of photos containing the injuries sustained by him and his son as a result of the assault.
According to Al-Shami in his video, he was arrested with two of his children along with other civilians as they tried to cross the border into Turkey from the Syrian Idlib region.
The Association of Syrian Journalists, which represents journalists opposed to the Bashar Assad regime, quoted Al-Shami as saying: “The opposition did not respond to my request to enter Turkey for a follow-up to my medical treatment.”
The association added that Al-Shami was beaten and severely tortured with “metal rods, iron chains and agricultural hand tools.”
Hundreds of Syrian activists have responded to the incident, saying the officer responsible must be held accountable and that the Turkish army is constantly targeting civilians trying to cross the border from Syria.
In a recent report, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that 419 Syrian civilians – among them 75 children and 38 women – have been killed trying to cross the border since the start of the country’s ongoing conflict.