Thursday, November 24, 2005

First impressions

General Marouf al Bakhit has been chosen to be the new prime minister by His Majesty King Abdullah. A brief CV has been published by Petra (in Arabic). General Bakhit is a career military officer, who joined the army when he was 17 years old. He rose through the ranks and retired from the army in 1999, after serving for 35 years. During his service, he obtained a Ph.D. in military science from the University of London and managed the military wing of Mutah University. He also lectured there in political science. After retiring, he was appointed as our ambassador to Turkey and then to Israel.

General Bakhit was appointed to the post of director of national security about a week ago, suggesting that he was initially not in the running for this new post. It is clear that he has the confidence of the king. But what can we read into his record?

Jordan has not had a military prime minister in recent memory. The only possible exception was Sharif (later Prince) Zaid Bin Shaker. Sharif Zaid was kept for the specific purpose of organizing elections (with assurances that THIS TIME, the elections will be fair). Asides from the case of Sharif Zaid, army officers have not been appointed to the post of PM.

General Bakhit seems to be a largely self-made man. Whereas most recent PM's have come from privileged childhoods, he joined the army when he was only 17. To be able to achieve what he did required intelligence, hard work and loyalty. Clearly, these characteristics are admirable and I am sure that they will be useful in his new position. Being self made, one would hope that he would respect merit over pedigree. Not knowing the man, this is only a guess, and we will know more when he chooses his cabinet. If he lives up to this hope, he might be the man to deliver the long awaited reform that people are waiting for.

One cautionary note also comes from his background. The military is not a democratic institution. Therefore, I wonder if he has the type of experience needed to deal with parliament, political parties, the press and the syndicates. Cooperation with these groups is needed if the hope of reform is to be achieved. Dr. Badran mismanaged his relationship with these groups, and one might argue that his downfall was being too accommodating to them. I hope that General Bakhit doesn't take the other extreme and try to be too tough. Democracy doesn't work that way. The balance requires some experience, which he doesn't seem to have.

In all, I hope that General Bakhit lives up to the promise of his record. Only time will tell.

4 Comments:

At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Hamamah said...

Many prime miniters came from the Military during Jordan reign, Wasi Attal, Modar Badran, Ahmad Ubeidat to name some whom all had long service in the Military and Mukhabarat..beside the one you've mentioned..

other than that your stance still awfully disgusting! A typical life cycle of a Jordanian self proclaimed liberal, soon to end with a desprate call for the King and the Mukhabarat to take hime out of his miss, if not his utter mesry

 
At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the government is changing that rapidlly, and there is some how a need for it, and the public in consent for that, I might say..why don't we think of a king change..why doesn't he change, every year for example?

 
At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dick (head): Surely you can differentiate between the mukhabarat and the army. If not, there is no hope for you. Could you please (coherently) point out what my stance is? I still haven't taken one. Of course, you could still write a 17 page rant that doesn't make any sense. The longer your rants are, the less likely people will figure out that you have nothing useful to say.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger Lina said...

With regards to what his attitude towards the parliament and the professional syndicates would be, I don't think you should focus on the fact that his background is military and overlook his diplomatic and negotiation credentials! Word has it he's quite an excellent negotiator, and those who know him say he's flexible and open-minded...

One would be able to tell more once the cabinet is chosen, I can't wait for Sunday!!

 

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