Jordan’s Change Of Government Proves State-Nation Gap – OpEd

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By Mohyeddin Sajedi

At last, Jordan’s King Abdullah could not tolerate his reformist Prime Minister Awn al-Khasawneh and dismissed him while in a foreign visit to bring the country’s political game once against under direct control of the royal court.

Awn al-Khasawneh, a judge of The Hague Tribunal, was missioned to establish the new government on October 17, 2011. The Jordanian king aimed to reconcile with his nation by giving the post to a famous person with no record of economic or political corruption.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the biggest and the most effective political group in Jordan, but is not capable of moving the masses. Salafis come next. They are under heavy influence of al Qaeda and many of them have fought in Iraq and have been killed, or imprisoned.

Getting close to the Muslim Brotherhood was a reason for hasty removal of Awn al-Khasawneh by the Jordanian king. Abdullah was also concerned about the increasing popularity of his premier.

Under new conditions in the Arab world, following the Tunisian revolution, al-Khasawneh’s cabinet was the third to be forced into resignation in Jordan. Rapid change of governments in Jordan proves the wide gap between people’s demands and the royal court. The king is trying to raise people’s hope in new changes by replacing the cabinets.

The difference between Awn al-Khasawneh and Jordan’s king over the new election law and election schedule has been mentioned as the main reason behind his dismissal. The prime minister had called for the dissolution of the parliament to which the king had apparently agreed. However, King Abdullah II changed his mind in the last minute. At any rate, the differences between the king and the premier seem to have been more profound.

A government will be successful in Jordan only when it is granted some of the powers of the royal court, a move which the King of Jordan has procrastinated. The king’s powers have remained intact even after amending the constitution, which occurred following the same move in Morocco.

Khasawneh’s government went after the cases of financial fraud and caused the imprisonment of one of the former chiefs of the security organization. The groups in power, who have gained several economic advantages in Jordan in the past decades and have established a good relation with the royal court, cannot bear a government that may damage their profits.

Jordan’s new prime minister is Fayez Tarawneh who was the head of the government in the time of power transfer after the death of Malik Hussein in 1999. His being the head of the government will provide further assurance for the royal court. He has also worked as the chief of the royal court and has been an appointed member of the senate for several times.

Zaki Bani Arshid, head of the Islamic Action Front (a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood), has related the change of prime minister to the victory of the security systems in the war between the wings of power in Jordan and says, “Rule of constitution has no place in Jordan. Whatever we hear about reforms is meaningless and is a failed experience and proves that there is no determination for reforming the country.”

Demographic factors play an important role in Jordan’s political scene. The majority of Jordan’s 6.5 million-population is Palestinians who are displaced both before and after the creation of Israel in 1948 and the six-day war in 1967. Although the Palestinians have held senior posts in Jordan, the main power is in the hands of the population that are the old residents of the country and are loyal to the royalty.

Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the distribution of its occupied possessions in the Middle East, King Abdullah, supported by the UK, in 1929 declared himself the king of eastern Jordan, which did not have a specific government and was under the UK mandate without having an identity as a country.

He and his successors who ruled over Jordan did not originally descend from the main inhabitants of this region and were all the grandsons of Sharif Hussein of Mecca. Sharif Hussein was the king of Hijaz in the early 20th century and tried to lead an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire with the support and provocation of the UK.

The Jordanian Kings have always been seeking to secure Jordan’s position in the Middle East as Israel considers Jordan the same as the Palestinian state and believes the solution to the Palestinian issue is to change the Jordanian sovereignty to a Palastinian one. King Hussein in 1994 signed the treaty of peace with Israel to gain the final recognition. But the “Jordanian solution” has still many supporters in Israel.

Depriving the Palestinians of their nationality or the quarrel of former crown prince over his family background every now and again increases sensitivities in Jordan. Given the fact that the majority of Jordan’s population is comprised of non-Jordanians, the emergence of uprisings like the one in Tunisia or Egypt is not considered much of an option in this country.

Mohyeddin Sajedi is a prominent Iranian political analyst, Mohyeddin Sajedi writes extensively on the Middle East issues. He also serves as a Middle East expert at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran.

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