Jordanians need to unite in this moment of crisis
Jordanians have been shocked by this week’s revelations concerning Prince Hamzah bin Hussein and an alleged conspiracy to destabilize the kingdom. The government, in a press conference on Sunday, said an investigation is ongoing and that it will be open and transparent. This is an important message to Jordanians and to the world. The public has a right to know the details of what the conspiracy was all about and the identity of the foreign parties involved. A reference to an Israeli citizen, believed to be associated with Mossad, is a cause for concern and will require further investigation.
Jordan was fortunate to have survived the tumultuous years of the so-called Arab Spring. It did so through its wise leadership and an admirable level of public awareness. It had to battle regional anarchy, especially in neighboring Syria and Iraq. It was able to rebuff attempts by Daesh to destabilize the country and was able to accommodate the waves of Syrian refugees that have put additional burdens on the kingdom’s limited resources.
Then came the pandemic, which tested the government’s ability to deal with a double challenge: Mitigating the health risks while cushioning the economy from further losses. This is still ongoing and it is no secret that, one year on from the first lockdown, the kingdom still faces a surge in virus cases while trying to keep the economy going. The effects of the pandemic have been difficult for a majority of Jordanians, who continue to suffer under tough economic conditions.
These conditions have had deep socioeconomic repercussions, leading to a rise in the level of criticism of the government’s actions and measures. But such public outcry must not be used by outside parties as an excuse to destabilize the kingdom. Jordan plays a pivotal role in regional stability and, despite the challenges it faces, there seems to be a new drive to revive political life in the country. King Abdullah recently underlined the need to review the laws that regulate the kingdom’s political life, including those covering elections and political parties.
With local council elections coming this summer, it is hoped that new laws will be introduced to enable wider public participation. It would be right for the government to launch a public debate on the urgently needed amendments to the election law.
The crisis that erupted this week triggered waves of solidarity and messages of support from all over the world. This is testimony to the kingdom’s role as an essential part of regional security. Jordan needs the support of its allies as it faces difficult economic and health challenges. The government must be assisted in mitigating the effects of rising unemployment and poverty rates, which are reaching critical levels. The economy needs genuine initiatives to attract foreign investment in projects that will create new jobs and help the economy grow to healthy levels.
A number of Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, recently expressed a desire to help Jordan through investments in various projects. The government must seize the moment and prepare a portfolio of projects that will be of interest to foreign investors, especially in the fields of tourism, mining, renewable energy, medical tourism and services. Once more, this must be preceded by amendments to the relevant laws to make it easier and safer for foreign investors to come to Jordan.
The long-term stability of the kingdom relies on a strong and sustainable economy that can create jobs and offset the high poverty rate and its social effects. But, in parallel, there is a need to launch a sustainable process of political reforms that give momentum to a political scenario where Jordanians of all walks of life feel they have a say over their future. Such a process will eclipse the effect of the so-called outside opposition.
Public outcry over the economy must not be used by outside parties as an excuse to destabilize the kingdom.
Moreover, the Hashemites have long been the backbone of the Jordanian state, which celebrates its centenary on Sunday. The current crisis must be resolved within the royal family in order to limit the damage. This requires wisdom and a high sense of responsibility at this critical stage. Jordan has enemies who lurk in the dark, hoping to destabilize the country. Israel’s far right, which is getting stronger and is now holding the key to the formation of future governments, does not hide its malicious intent toward Jordan and its position on the Palestinian question. Above all, Jordanians need to be wary of foreign plots against their state and that is why unity is needed more than ever before.
- Osama Al-Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. Twitter: @plato010