Jordanian Cabinet resigns ahead of government reshuffle

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz meets with member of Union leaders in Amman, on June 7, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2019

Jordanian Cabinet resigns ahead of government reshuffle

  • Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz on Wednesday asked ministers to submit their resignations in preparation for a cabinet reshuffle
  • Al-Razzaz said that the reshuffle aims to contribute toward efforts overcoming the challenges and achieving the priorities and plans of the government

AMMAN: The entire Jordanian Cabinet resigned on Wednesday, signaling a major government reshuffle.

The official Jordanian news agency, Petra, said that Prime Minister Omar Razzaz “asked his ministerial team to submit their resignations in preparation for a Cabinet reshuffle in the coming days.”

According to Petra, Razzaz stressed: “The reshuffle comes in line with the requirements to address challenges and achieve the government's priorities and plans.”

Mamdouh Abadi, a former deputy prime minister, told Arab News that the idea of mass resignations has become part of the norm in Jordanian politics. “Ever since the 1980s, when a particular minister refuses to resign in a small reshuffle, all Jordanian Cabinet members present their resignations en masse, allowing the prime minister to decide who to keep and whose resignation to accept.”

Hassan Barari, a professor of international relations at the University of Jordan, said that the individuals who will change are unknown, but that: “The aim of this reshuffle is internal, not external. Razzaz wants to address some pressing domestic issues and he feels handicapped by some ministers not delivering what is needed.”

Barari added: “There is no change in politics or policy, the only explanation I can see in this reshuffle is internal.”

The Cabinet reshuffle is taking place after important personnel changes occurred in the royal court and the general intelligence directorate. It also comes before the expected announcement of the US-Middle East Plan, although most experts do not expect the change to affect Jordanian policy or positions.

Last week, the Jordanian royal court made important changes among several officials in sensitive and senior positions. Bisher Khasawneh became the senior official at court, while Manar Dabas, the director of the King’s office, has become a special advisor.

One of the major changes made by King Abdullah was the replacement of the director of the General Intelligence Department, General Adnan Al-Jundi, who held one of the most influential positions in the country. The palace issued a statement saying the king had decided to retire Al-Jundi and replace him with Gen. Ahmed Husni, who has served in several senior intelligence posts.

Jordan is going through a difficult economic period with unemployment at high rates due in part to a large young population and a lack of private sector jobs. The country’s public sector is bloated, and national debt is rising. A year ago, 40 days of protests against a controversial income tax law brought in liberal-minded Harvard University graduate Razzaz, but he has had a hard time producing change.

It is not clear when the reshuffle will be completed and the newly established Cabinet will be sworn in. Most analysts expect it to take place within 48 hours of the resignations, and after consultations with the king.

From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

Updated 46 min 37 sec ago

From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

  • Doors open again after virus lockdown
  • Internal flights resume from Saudi airports

JEDDAH/AMMAN: It began at dawn. As the first light appeared on the horizon and the call to Fajr prayer rang out, Muslims from Riyadh to Madinah and Jeddah to Jerusalem returned to their mosques on Sunday after a two-month break that for many was unbearable.

More than 90,000 mosques throughout Saudi Arabia were deep cleaned and sanitized in preparation for the end of the coronavirus lockdown. Worshippers wore face masks, kept a minimum of two meters apart, brought their own prayer mats and performed the ablution ritual at home.

“My feelings are indescribable. We are so happy. Thank God we are back in His house,” said Abdulrahman, 45, at Al-Rajhi mosque in Riyadh, where worshippers had their temperatures checked before entering.

Television screens inside the mosque displayed written instructions, including the need to maintain a safe distance from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Jerusalem, at 3:30 a.m. thousands crowded outside three gates assigned to be opened to allow Muslims to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque. Young and old, men and women, many with their phone cameras on, chanted religious songs as they waited to return for the first time since the virus lockdown began.

“Those wishing to pray were checked for their temperature and those without a mask were given one by Waqf staff. All were asked to stay a safe distance from each other when they prayed,” Mazen Sinokrot, a member of the Islamic Waqf, told Arab News.

Wasfi Kailani executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque told Arab News that enabling Muslims to pray in large numbers and according to health requirements had gone smoothly.

“People cooperated with the local Muslim authorities and followed the regulations.” The people of Jerusalem had shown a high degree of responsibility, he said.

Israeli police spokesman Miky Rosenfeld told Arab News that extra police units had been  mobilized in the old city of Jerusalem for the reopening of Al-Aqsa. 

“People arrived in the areas scheduled according to health and security guidelines,” he said.

Khaled Abu Arafeh, a former Minister for Jerusalem in the Ismael Haniyeh government in 2006, said people were happy to be able to pray once more at Islam’s third-holiest site.

“It is time to open a new page in cooperation with local institutions and with Jordan to regain all that has been lost over the years,” he told Arab News.

“The Waqf council has done a good job in dealing with the contradictions and pressures that they are under, which is like walking on a knife’s edge as they deal with the occupiers on the one hand and the health situation on the other, while also trying to be responsive to the desires of worshippers.”

Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, commercial flights took to the air again, office staff returned to work and restaurants resumed serving diners as life began a gradual return to normal after the coronavirus lockdown.

Eleven of the Kingdom’s 28 airports opened on Sunday for the first time since March 21. “The progressive and gradual reopening aims at controlling the crowds inside airports because we want to achieve the highest health efficiency,” civil aviation spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News.

No one without an e-ticket will be allowed into an airport, face masks must be worn and safe distancing observed, and children under 15 may not travel unaccompanied.