In Jordan, there lacks any clear criteria for who gets appointed to posts of prime ministers or ministers, and there are no limits on how long or short the term of the government is, and no obvious evaluation checklists for evaluating people and retaining them.
In essence, the officials serve at the pleasure of the king. This means that the king needs to make judgments based on his own instincts as well as what his circle of advisors might think suitable. Inevitably, this circle of advisors is influenced by what is said in political groupings or what are known as “political salons” in Jordan. They rarely are influenced by what the average Khalaf thinks. Thus, political salons with unemployed ex officials and aspiring wannabees looking to work their way into the political class (and king’s advisors) begin to wield disproportionate influence in a murky uninstitutionalized “system”. This is exasperated by the lack of political timelines whereby changes in government are a constitutional requirement.
So, soon after any government is formed, these political classes (except the ones lucky enough to get into the government) start to pressure for another change in government. Any sense of weakness or vulnerability becomes a signal that a new fox hunt is on. Some governments are lucky enough to last a couple of years. Adnan Badran’s government’s pelt was taken a few short months after it was formed.
Sometimes the PM needs to sacrifice some of the members of his cabinet in order to save the rest (and himself). Often, this diverts the fox hounds long enough for the rest to get away. For a while that is.
Marouf Bakhit has the hounds at his tail now. Aside from the usual diversionary tactic mentioned above, he seems to be attempting a high risk approach of actually fighting back. His government has been dusting off corruption files and sending them to the prosecutor’s office. Of course, most of these files involve ex officials and their cliques, who are the same people sitting in the political salons.
So, will it work? It certainly will make many ex officials scared, and give them extra incentive to get his hide. On the other hand, sending some really big names to the prosecutors office will boost his popularity, and give him some level of immunity. If he is removed the impression will be that the king is protecting corruption. I doubt that the king will want to enforce such a perception.
So, the current level of “fighting corruption” is only enough to scare and anger the established corrupt political class. However, a more bold approach that will involve ex prime ministers and many more high officials will achieve the reprieve he wants. Ammon news has a report suggesting that the salons are backing away for now, probably trying to make him complacent.
Does he have the guts to make it an all out war on corruption? We will see. His skin depends on it.