Saturday, September 13, 2008

How can I quit?

After reading something like this, it is just too difficult. So Al Shahed reported last week that former prime minister Ali Abu Ragheb took 600,000 dinars from the treasury in the final hours before he left office. Not missing a beat, deputy Ali Dala’in sent an inquiry to the government to ask if this was true and what the money was for. Abu Ragheb refused to comment, saying that it was the job of the current PM to answer.

So, the official answer was that the money was actually withdrawn from the treasury. According to the government response, the money was to “pay those who ensured the oil supply”. The article accompanying the answer implied that the money was distributed to government employees who were charged with this task.


I use the term implied on purpose because the answer itself could mean that the money was used to bribe somebody. Anyway, you choose the image: either Abu Ragheb on a park bench with dark glasses and a newspaper over his face and a briefcase on his side, waiting for somebody to tell him that the “merchandise” has been delivered or an image of Abu Ragheb distributing fat plain brown envelopes to happy high level employees who had taken their valuable time to go to Iraq or Saudi Arabia. Presumably, this was a difficult task because, hey, 600,000 dinars is a lot of money.

Anyway, neither image conjures up a scene where Abu Ragheb asks for a receipt. This makes a third scene of Abu Ragheb opening a safe in his house to deposit bundles of cash just as likely.

And this, just as the government was convincing everybody that they are serious about fighting corruption. The government has been really tough. For example, the PM rescinded a tender which had been awarded by the ministry of public works for the “honorable housing” project. The award had been given to a company with ties to the minister, Sahel bin Abdulhadi Majali. The PM also rescinded a tender awarded by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone that had been awarded to the wife of the chief commissioner, Husni Abu Ghaida. Apparently, it is illegal to award yourself a government contract. Who knew? Both men are lucky in that they have clout, and so they still have their jobs. Same goes to Basem Awadallah, who may or may not be involved in human trafficking.

Unlucky is the president of Balqa Applied University Omar Rimawi and his deputies, who were taken handcuffed from their offices after being accused of unspecified administrative and financial improprieties. Either Rimawi is much more corrupt than Abu Ragheb, Majali, Abu Ghaida et al, or he is simply the whipping boy needed to atone for all of their sins اجت الدقه فيه!.

So, I had to get that off of my chest. I still might be away for a while, and I have not made any final decisions. To be truthful, the comments I received from you were deeply moving for me, and I appreciate them very much. I will probably be back, but I can’t say when or with what frequency.

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good bye

Well, it has been three years since I have started this blog. Much has happened since then. Although I have enjoyed relating Jordanian politics through my perspective, I feel that this project has run its course.

My postings have become sporadic, and I really don’t have the excitement anymore to follow up on the minutiae of what is going on. Events change, jockeying techniques change but the basic dynamics and trends are the same. The politicians are the same, their techniques and ambitions are the same, the corruption and mismanagement waxes and wanes, freedoms diminish and peoples’ focus is fixated on their own problems.

I frankly have lost interest. I am afraid that this is affecting the quality of what I post. If I can’t contribute something fresh or interesting, I would rather not continue. In case of something extraordinary happening, I might have something to say. However, these will be the exception and not the rule.

Thank you all for your interest, comments and support over the last three years. I will continue to follow up on what my fellow bloggers are up to. I wish you all the best.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Human trafficking

The story of the Nepalese worker who is suing KBR and a Jordanian partner, Dawood and Co., is making waves here. The story is that KBR allegedly recruited 13 Nepalese workers to come to Amman and work in local hotels, but on arrival they were forced to go to Iraq and their passports were confiscated here.

The interesting part is that Dawood and Co. apparently is partially owned by Bassem Awadallah, our controversial but beloved head of the Royal Court. The record of the company has mysteriously been expunged from the Companies Control Department website.

Anyway, one would imagine that only people of influence could get restrained, passport-less workers across the border to Iraq.

The parliament is relishing this. Nariman Rousan (who recently compared Awadallah to Elie Cohen) wants a committee of which she is a member to investigate, even though it is outside the mandate of the committee. Who cares about mandate when you are playing politics?

Mohammad Abu Rumman has a more sober assessment. In his article he ignores the Awadallah connection, but emphasizes the seriousness of the suit, and how it will reflect on the country. This is the most important point.