Saturday, October 21, 2006

Blood sports

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.

20 Comments:

At 5:25 PM, Blogger EmGrace said...

Hey - thanks for your writing. As a foreign student here I'm impressed by your blog and insights ... wish it were easier to meet like-minded young people (and not just other foreigners, we're easy enough to find) when out and about in Amman.

 
At 6:02 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hello Emgrace: Welcome to my blog. I appreciate your compliments, and I hope that you are enjoying your stay in Jordan. I am sure you will make many Jordanian friends.

Cheers!

 
At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear average Khalaf,

Many Jordanians would like the PM position to be elected by one-man-one-vote system.

Even though the whole democratic process and its institutions in Jordan are impotent and are meant for PR purposes, the symbolic value of an elected PM goes along way in addressing the injustice of the respresentation issue in the jordanian parliment whereby heavily populated areas with over 70% of jordans' population (read: jordanians with palestinian origin) get to elect less than 30% of members of parlimant. this is a system that was devised to keep tensions high and give some folks the power to play judges between the local parties and to constantly pit them against each other. in a country where 90% are sunnai arabs, you have to me more creative in fomenting divisions :)

by letting jordanians vote for PM it will create some sort of a balance.

Again, we must remember there is NO real democracy in jordan. There is LEGO democracy.

 
At 1:23 AM, Anonymous hashmi hashmi said...

"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"
Maybe just maybe, this IS the biggest problem.

 
At 5:24 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: Your numbers are exaggerated, but the point is taken. Over representation of people living in rural and deprived areas is not such a terrible thing. Amman is far and away in better off in terms of economy and infrastructure than other areas. Nobody would ever guess that Amman is sufferening from under representation.

HH: In this case, this is a problem.

 
At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf, of course 30% is exaggerated. It's less than that. Go count the MPs and tell me how many of them are of falasteene origin? Luck? competence? Devine intervention? or a calculated effort to foment division and then play judge?

And no, this system of institutionalized injustice was not done to ensure the representation of rural Jordan. If it were, a system like the American system (House of Reps + Senate) could have addressed rural presentation issue, or the election of the PM.

But you see, this is the sort of heated argument that is the intended purpose of this deliberate and institutionalized disenfranchisement of one group for the benefit of another. And the powers behind it have always relied on the modern Arabs' instinctive desire to screw each other and to always maneuver to win an unfair advantage. We see it in almost every Arab country. Hence the constant strife in the Arab world and the cycle of foreign interventions.

I always have to remind myself not to be a stooge in this game of divide and conquer even though many are. So I do love all my fellow Jordanian citizens. They are not the ones behind this sinister game. They are the victims, even if some are willing victims.

 
At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

Khalaf and Anon; I think it is a real political challenge to discuss the representation of "Jordanians of Palestinian origins" in theb parliament. The figures mentioned are correct but there is one major issue that should be highlighted which is to how much "Jordanians of Palestinain origins" are willing to be Jordanians and not Palestinians? In some previous parliaments we had MPs here who were also MPs in the National Council (Hamadeh Fara'neh" and a lot of MPs representing Palestinians factions like Fateh, Popular front and democratic front and now we have the Hamas MPs. I firmly advocate a balanced Jordanian MPs provided that any candidate should not have any institutional linkages to Palestinian organizations and consider himself to be a representative for all Jordanians, and not like Khaleel Attiya for example who always claims that he represents Palestinians. It is a very delicate issue and needs to be discussed within a framework of citizenship.

 
At 7:05 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: In your original comment, you said that areas with 70% of the population vote for 30% of the representatives. The Amman governorate houses 38% of the population and elects 23 deputies (21%). The Zerqa governorate houses 15% of the population and elects 10 deputies (9%; 10% if you count the women quota). Irbid houses 18% of the population and elects 16 deputies (14.5%; 15.5 counting the women quota). These three governorates comprise 71% of the population and are represented by 51 deputies (46.4%). You can see where the exaggeration lies.

As for the number of Jordanian Palestinians in the Parliament, I have not counted them, and I really don't know. Also, the percentage of Jordanian Palestinans in the country is not known either, although Isreal and the US media have a vested interest in citing large numbers to push the idea that Jordan should be an alternative homeland for the Palestinians. The 60 and 70% numbers frequently cited by the MSM are unsubstantiated and driven by an obvious agenda.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Batir: These are important points, and present a real challenge to the integration needed to put the divisions of the past behind us.

 
At 11:28 PM, Anonymous 3aadi said...

"how much "Jordanians of Palestinain origins" are willing to be Jordanians and not Palestinians?"

Batir, what sort of a question is this? Are Charkisians willing to be Jordanians? how do you measure a Charkisian's Jordanianship? by being loyal to your clan before your country? or by waving a 2 JD flag and yelling Jordan First? Or may be by working in the Mukhabarat and turning over patriots to be tortured? Don't confuse serving the regiem with serving the country.

Don't start this line of debate because everyone will lose Batir. And don't appoint yourself as the guarding of Jordanian Purity.

A citizen is someoen who abides by the laws. that's all. Last time I checked in the civilized world, if you consider Sweden and Finland, for example, civilized. You are a citizen so long as your passport says so. And you are a good citizen so long as you obey the laws of the land.

So what are you suggesting Batir? That somehow those law abiding Jordanians of Palestinian origin are not good enough for you? Who are you to judge a law-abiding citizen who pays his taxes and respects the law? Do you pay more Taxes batir? Did you spend more time in military service than others Batir? Do you stop longer at Stop signs than others Batir? Don't start inventing dumb guidelines that don't exist anywhere.

If any, Jordan's biggest challange is the tribal make up and those who put their tribe above country and those who put their race above country. We all know stories and we all have seen enough dirty laundry from everyone. it is stupid for anyone to start playing the WHO IS A GOOD JORDANIAN game.

 
At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

3aadi you are correct. it's either stupid to start playing the who is a good jordanian game or it's deliberate to do it to start nasty arguments and fule divisions. I think Batir knows what he is doing. he has done it before. he is the only blogger who does this. See how the Kurds in Iraq will do anything to divide Arabs into sunni and shiia. it's self preservation and the regime here encourages this sort of divisiveness. divide and rule.

 
At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Batir confuses the loyalty to Jordan with kissing the feet of the king. No biggie really...

 
At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

Wow all of you anons have completely lost my point and thought about the extreme opposite. I hope you will READ the following lines before starting your "citizenship" crusade.
I am not a popular figure among circassians because I always criticise the trend of marginalising themselves from the Jordanian community. Circassisns are and should only be Jordanians in political identity. However, Circassians, palestinians, Kurds and Syrians have all the right to express their own CULTURAL identity but when it becomes an issue of political identity all should be Jordanians.
So, there are no Circassisns or Kurds or Armenians in Jordan who are members of "liberation parties" and have political loyalty to a non-jordanian political party or ideology. Unfortunately some Palestinians do have their political loyalty completely linked with Palestinian political movements. If they make this decision of loyalty to Hamas or fateh they simply should not be a part of the Jordanian political system. In the civilized world as you say citizenship is a balance between rights or responsibilities. It seesm that you anons are focusing only on rights and forgetting responsibilities. Jordan only asks one responsibility from its Palestinian population which is loyalty to the Jordanian state and not necessarily the regime, but it seems this is too much to ask for based on your reactions. The simple fact is taht no country in the world even Sweden will allow one of its citizens to be loyal to a Norwegian or Danish political party. Of course there is no problem with transboundary ideologies but not loyalty to political parties of other system.

 
At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jordan only asks one responsibility from its Palestinian population which is loyalty to the Jordanian state "

Who are you to speak on behalf of jordan and who are you to say that palestinains are not loyal to the state. but it seems you know what it takes to move up the official ladder.

But Batir you seem to advance an Israeli agenda that basically tries to discredet those who pursue liberation fo palestine and seek to paint it as some sort of anti-Jordanian behavior, while Americans, French, British, and other Western countries encourage their Jewish citizens to support Israel.

the "palestinains" whoes loyalty you question have built the institutions of the modern state of Jordan and their tax money got you educated and pays for the salaries of state employees. If "palestinains" stop paying taxes and remove their money and investments, the economy will collapse. So before you start making empty and hateful generalizations look at yoruself in the mirror and ask yourself what's your worth...nothing. Batir, you are a mukhabarat and a hateful charkissian who only feels safe so long as arabs are divided in jordan...just like the Kurds in iraq who thrive on Arab divisions. you are not loyal to jordan, you are loyal to clan and regime and you are anti-liberation and pro occupation.

 
At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

Anon again you really do not get it and it seems you are not even trying to understand. I did not at any circumstances say that I question the loyalty of Plaestinians in Jordan and if you use your skill of reading which you should have developed at grade 1 you can read all the articles I wrote on my blogs (English and Arabic) about this issue. The only thing I am saying is that there is simply no way to accept that a person can be an MP in Jordan and a member in Hamas or fateh. If this is a crime and hateful statement then I think you are in deep mental trouble.
I am no mukhabart and no palestinian-hateful. In fact my wife is palestinian and 75% of my friends are great palestinians who are loyal to this country and who are well educated and have contributed with more than taxes and money to the advance of this country. If only 5% of palestinian carry your ideas then we should be in deep problems, luckily they do not.
BTW loyalty, in the civilised world is not measured by taxes and money, but I doi not blame you because Jordan has opened its borders for anyone who can pay money and become a citizen and this is the great mistake done by our regime.

 
At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jordan has opened its borders for anyone who can pay money and become a citizen and this is the great mistake done by our regime."

Really? are you saying you know something about immigration and economic planning that the rich and free world does not know?

What a shallow guy Batir. Most of the most prosperous, freest, and most technologically and culturally advanced countries in the world will take in immigrant based on skills or investemnts alone. Lest you think jordan or any other poor, repressive third world country have so much to protect from people with skills and money. if it were up to me Batir I would do exactly what you hate, give jordanian passport to anyone with money and talent.

 
At 3:19 PM, Anonymous azzouz said...

Ya batir, you are backtracking but it's not genuine.

besides, what if your wife is jo-palestinian? Rafiq Hariri's wife was palestinian and under his rein some of the most repressive anti-palestinian laws were passed. big deal and it proves nothing.

and so what if most of your friends are jordan-pals. that says you are an untrustworthy peron who is willing to befriend peolpe then stick to them. additionally your % of friends reflects the make up of jordan.

ya batir, it's obvious from your posts you are a hateful guy. whether you see it or not. even the israelis will not admit to being hateful. so you do share some values with them.

in jordan where the regime subordinates the security and interests of jordan and jordanian to the interests of the US and Israel, it's a joke to hear you question the loyalty of those jordanians who champion liberation of arab land from those who have done so much harm to the arab people. but you don't question the loyalty of a regiem that exploits jordan and its people for its own benefit and political survival. i guess you know your masters and you obey.

 
At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

I have to rest my case here since this is becoming a personal attack on me and not a civilised substantial debate. I will end with three issues:
1-The loyalty should be to the Jordanian state regardless of ideologies. The Jordanian constitution asks for loyalty to the state and if some people have problem in being local to the state they should not be in this state to begin with.
2- Loyalty is not measured by money and taxes and amount of skills. To argue that a certain "race" is more skillful and talented than another one is a true reflection of hatred and superiority so do not preach what you cannot practice. This is a form of hatred that you both seem to share with the Israelis: superiority complex.
3- Immigrants in other countries usually spend a few years with no political rights before getting the citizenship and then they prove their loyalty by not advocating the agendas of political parties from other countries or work to topple the regime. Loyalty to the state is untouchable in civilzed countries and you can not be allowed to be a citizen who questions the integrity of the state. As this is practiced in Sweden it should be also in Jordan
This is my point. If you are good enough to challenge me mentally and substantially go ahead. Otherwise do not resort to personal attacks because this reflects weakness.

 
At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Immigrants in other countries usually spend a few years with no political rights before getting the citizenship and then they prove their loyalty"

In the context of French or Israeli politics, your topics of interest fall neatly within what's known as reactionary right wing or simply anti-Arab agendas. you seem to relish in borrowing "hot issues" from Israeli politics and from European anti-Arab movements with your constant banter about loyalty and immigration.

You have lifted a page from the Israeli book on "demographic threat" and added it to another page from the French anti-Arab book questioning French-Arabs' loyalty and advancing anti-immigration sentiments (read anti-Arab)

What's your problem Batir?

The only beneficiary from these divisive discussions is the regime whose sense of security is rooted in magnifying divisions in Jordanian society. So by constantly poking at these issues, you are either a misguided person or worse. Some naive reader may think the former.

 
At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

Wake up. The french policies are not anti-arab and there is no way to compare them with Israel. The french people decided in 1789 to adopt secularism and enlightement and they welcome everyone to their country with one condition which is to integrate and accept the minimum of french secular value. The problem with Arabs and muslims in France and most of the western european countries is that they want to bring with them the traditional Arabic and Islamic laws and implement them in Europe and this will not be accepted by the french.
Again I am not calling for division. On the contrary I am asking for unity in the loyalty to the state.

 

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