Monday, March 16, 2009

The Jordanian Regime Hypocrisy and Vulnerability

Dr. Awen Al-Meshaqbah / د. عون المشاقبة

The Jordanian Regime Hypocrisy and Vulnerability

The Jordanian Regime Hypocrisy and Vulnerability

Mr. Rheil Gharibeh, the Jordanian Regime’s Latest Victim of Character Assassination

"The present decision-making structure in Jordan remains an authoritarian institution at best, allowing little or no room for serious and genuine consultation with the Jordanian public. To make matters worse, effective parliamentarian oversight is almost non-existent, except for a small group of obedient royal advisors who are entirely dependent on the regime for their political and financial survival. These advisors have no independent power base and no role that permits them to regularly have access to autonomous information on domestic and foreign affairs

Thus, when any Jordanian public figure shows any sign of independence and courage to engage international organizations in dialogues on Jordan’s current state of affairs, the regime becomes apprehensive and displays gratuitous viciousness in attacking that person. Dr. Abbadi’s case has been a clear manifestation of this behavior

Since he came to power, King Abdullah has, perhaps unsurprisingly, exhibited a case of split personality in dealing with domestic and international audiences. On the one hand, the King would like to present himself as a moderate Arab statesman who strives to modernize his country by establishing strong ties with the open and secular western democracies, especially the United States. However, when dealing with the Jordanian public and its national representatives, he acts in an entirely different manner

I am using this introduction to shed light on the recent campaign by the Jordanian regime and its apologists to carry out a mean-spirited and well orchestrated character assassination against a member of the Jordanian “loyal” opposition

Mr. Rheil Gharibeh (the Chairman of the National Initiative for Reforms and a member of the Jordan’s Islamic Action Front), was recently invited by a U.S. think tank in Washington, DC to participate in a non-government-sponsored discussion regarding the role of moderate Islamic movements in advancing democratic practices in the Arab and Muslim world. Evidently, that was a non-crossable line in the sand to the patricians living in Al-Hum’mer. The attitude was: “How dare a Jordanian citizen engage in open dialogue with a foreign entity without the government’s consent or prior approval

In response to this “provocation”, the regime in Amman has unleashed its paid journalists and self-proclaimed supporters to attack this well-respected Jordanian figure. Why? For daring to participate in this public gathering to discuss his party’s perspective on many issues facing the Middle East in general and Jordan in particular. The regime’s mouthpiece machine and its propagandists such as Saleh Al-Ghalab, Aymen Al-Majali, Maher Abu Teer and many other paid supporters took the lead in articulating the regime’s malicious and undeserved assault on Mr. Gharibeh

According to official transcripts of the meeting, Mr. Gharibeh rightfully advocated the need for a genuine political reform in Jordan by calling for the establishment of a national government in his country that is based on a constitutional monarchy whose core value is respect for human rights and genuine political participation by all members of Jordanian society. Going further, he discussed his movement’s reservations regarding the current elections and party regulation laws in Jordan. Furthermore, he called on the government to be more forthcoming in allowing political parties to represent and explain their platforms to the public, without official censorship. He also criticized the West, especially the United States for not encouraging genuine democratic reforms in the region

The invited guest was engaging, well-informed and more importantly judicious in his views. Mr. Gharibeh never attacked the “institution of the monarchy” but merely criticized the regime’s political practices, which he correctly described as non-democratic. This freedom of “responsible” speech is supposedly an “inherent basic right” granted to all Jordanian citizens

In addition, as an example, he spoke warmly of the historical experience of Turkey’s Islamic movement in leading the country’s political and economic reforms. Mr. Gharibeh’s perspective reflected on the Islamic political movement in his country, which, according to him, is operating within the legal and constitutional framework of its society and has used only peaceful and democratic means to educate, energize and prepare its people for more active participation in the country’s economic and political affairs

As an outside observer – but also a native son of Jordan - who cares deeply about the country and its future, I am once again disturbed to see the regime in Amman exhibits such hypocrisy and lack of confidence in dealing with its opponents

I am not a champion of Mr. Gharibeh’s political platform, but I am absolutely supportive of his right to speak, his right to meet and his right to engage in conversation with whomever he wishes. This is not a subversive or treasonable activity. In my opinion, Mr. Gharibeh’s words and actions in Washington are an unexceptional ritual that the regime’s supporters and allies routinely engage in. Washington, DC, Boston and other American cities are a popular destination for many Jordanian officials in the country’s private and public sectors; they travel to the United States in the hope of engaging their American interlocutors in discussions on the core values of western democracies and how other countries can benefit from the American experience in building and nurturing democratic institutions

Needless to say, such events are mostly funded by government and non-government organizations in the United States. Some of those Jordanian officials would have never been able to participate in these educational and political events were it not for the good will of the American people. So, for the Jordanian regime to feel betrayed and offended by Mr. Gharibeh’s actions is hypocritical and childish, to say the least. As a free citizen of Jordan, Mr. Gharibeh is entitled to attend any public event that he and his political colleagues deem instructive and relevant to them

The U.S. Government, through its Agency for International Development (U.S.AID) has allocated millions of U.S. dollars to support Jordan’s civil society and projects promoting the rule of law. So, if these propagandists really believe that Mr. Gharibeh’s participation in such a public gathering would give the United States the pretext to intervene in Jordan, then, may God help Jordan and its people

I feel obliged to remind the regime in Amman that lecturing Jordanians about the value of public responsibility and loyalty to their country is irrelevant when the entire regime’s political and economic survivability hinges on the good will of the United States and its taxpayers. People such as Mr. Gharibeh have the same inherent rights as the regime’s supporters when it comes to engaging international public opinion regarding the need for peaceful democratic change in their society

Unfortunately, Jordan has and will continue to reap the fruits of years of ad-hoc arbitrary policies, political and economic structural weaknesses, the lack of a strategic national vision, and more importantly the total absence of institutionalized decision-making processes which are now, alas, subject to the idiosyncrasies of the monarchy and its security services

In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that the regime in Jordan would ever be able to face up to present and future challenges confronting Jordan without giving its people the freedom to engage in genuine political participation. Hence, it is essential for the king and his cronies to acknowledge and allow all democratically-inclined Jordanian citizens, irrespective of their political views, to take an active and genuine role in running their country’s affairs. This is the only way that will provide stability for the country to develop and enhance its political and economic infrastructure to provide a peaceful, prosperous life for all its citizens

Going back to Mr. Gharibeh’s “controversial” statement, aside from some corrupt politicians and their beneficiaries, the majority of Jordan’s citizens – the young, urban cosmopolitan men and women, well-educated and have access to international news through the internet and other media outlets – would likely welcome a constitutional monarchy as is the case in Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, and other Western democracies. With a guarantee of free and responsible speech, we would find louder voices calling for this form of government in their country. Unfortunately, this is not happening now in Jordan because people know that they are not free to express their views without retribution

A statement attributed to Francois Marie Arouet, Voltaire, the great 18th Century French philosopher of the Enlightenment, exclaimed: “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend - to the death – your right to say it.” The meaning behind this simple sentence has become a cornerstone of Western democratic tradition, and, in my opinion, they are words whose spirit a truly democratic Jordanian society should live by"

Awen R. Al-Meshagbah


Anonymous said...

Relying on sleazy tabloids like the ArabTimes rag hurts every and any point you are trying to make.
Any self-articulated opinion even if vastly flawed (like the solution post below) serves as a genuine attempt from a concerned citizen. ArabTimes trash hurt the cause, because it is juvenile and lousy on every possible level.

AlurduniAlurr said...

OK Anonymous,,It seems you have no argument to refute Dr Mashabqah's argument and maybe you agree with it ,but your protest or objection is were it was published, and that's good and for the sake of your comment,
If I bring an article from let us say, The Nation Magazine that reports on the corruption of the Hashemites would you except it?

Anonymous said...

Take it easy.
I understand that you are constantly faced with idiots who want to defend the regime so you are a little confrontational. I am fully aware of the "Kingdom of Corruption" nation article, and I actually translated parts of it, and tried publishing it on various website.
My point is that the article below brings absolutely nothing new: autocratic regime, single decision maker, corrupt parasites....etc stuff that has been said over and over since 2001 - publicly.

The difference is this Dr has two things that discredits his argument and is actually hurting anyone who is seriously trying to make an argument against the regime:
1- His platform is a sleazy tabloid that has no credibility at all and does not subscribe to the minimal limits of decency let alone professionalism.
2- He compares a shady character (politically at least) like Rhaeil Gharaybeh to an even shaddier character (Ahmad Ouidi Abbadi) and present both of them as the patriotic outspoken "leaders" they are not.

Again, regardless of the article below, I was just offering a sincere advice: I know that reading and quoting a tabloid that constantly criticizes and mocks the king can be exciting, but using it as a reference and buying too much into its content, contributors or style would hurt your overall cause.

Alurdunialhurr said...

OK Anonymous,,First, Iam not using the article as a reference to prove my point but quoting and I you notice I put it between two parentheses to prove Iam quoting it.
Regarding who is a patriot and who is not is just silly and irrelevant. Dr Mashabqaha original argument is to defend Mr Rahil right to speak and he indicated that in his article that he is not champion of Mr rahil's political orientation and ideas but for his the right to speak his mind anytime and where.
On the credibility of Arab times, I disagree WITH YOU ON THAT.while I recognize that Arab Times is a tabloid but it gives even the Mukhabarat the right to respond and refute unlike some of the Jordanian propoganda dailies such as AlRai or Aldustur in which they will never allow him to publish his article and believe me If some of those dailies I mention allow him to publish his article I don't think Dr Mashabagha would send his article to be publish in Arab Times

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