9.2.13

Between a rock and a hard place

I have tried to maintain an objective stance when it comes to the politics of Jordan. There are mainly two clear schools of thought when it comes to the situation in Jordan, and I tend to see-saw almost daily between the two extremes.

On the one hand the corruption in Jordan is rampant. All Jordanians are in the know of many public official who are career civil servants and have salaries which have peeked at around USD 2,000 - 3,000 after 30 years of service, yet somehow they own multi-million dollar investments, homes and cars and have household yearly expenditures in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The cases are many but the names are known, and they have been clearly given a carte blanche or some sort of immunity or amnesty. The problem, according to many observers, is connected to the palace institution and therefore cannot be unraveled without endangering the whole regime.

The public is at wits-end and rising inflation, taxation and cost of living is not helping. Security apparatuses and intelligence departments can deal with so much resentment before a Bouazizi pops-ups and turns some region or another of Jordan into a Sidi Bouzid. Jordan is different but you can not take the country out of its regional context.

The most affected people in these price-hikes are the people who traditionally have been the back-bone of the security regime; the military and the public security. They will learn sooner or later that defending a series of governments that have shown no empathy towards them might not be the best idea.

On the other hand, no one can tell what an escalation in demands by the public will mean, some fear the schism between West-Bankers "Palestinian-Jordanians" and East-Bankers "Original Jordanians." (I do not prescribe to these labels, in fact, I detest them, but there is only one way to confront the issue, and that is, straight on.)

This schism, many assume, will not allow a transition in an era post-regime, and therefore the status quo, according to them, is the lesser of two-evils. They are quick to point that the regime is continuously fueling these prejudices and is the main beneficiary of such divides. Also, years of tribal stances and even tribal in-fighting have not left any politician with any sort of legitimacy to allow a post-regime move.

Parallels to Syria are quick to be dismissed, as one commentator insisted, because the regime does not have a sect or a faction to fall back on. Parallels to Egypt and Tunisia are dismissed even further because there are no respected public institutions that people can rely on in their struggle to equality. I have yet to see an institution like the UGTT of Tunisia or even SCAF of Egypt.

The way forward should not necessarily be revolutionary, it might be a reaction to a continued presence of the people, their movement and their demands. Though at first the movement going on in Jordan should agree on a certain level of demands and work towards it, to allow institutions to form.

On a related note, the recent elections have only proved to me that people need more awareness before the process can mature to allow for a parliamentary government and maybe move forward on constitutional amendments.

God Bless our People.
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