By Dr. Abderrazaq Bani Hani
For almost 2 years the Arab World(AW) has been embroiled with political and social unrest. People from the middle and downtrodden poor classes went en mass to the streets, in the baldest challenge to the authority of tyrants such as Bin Ali (Tunis), Mubarak (Egypt), Gadhafi (Libya), and Saleh (Yemen). The outcome of such movements has not settled yet. With the exception of Morocco, desirable stability is not ascertained in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Jordan and Syria are still under pressure. However, the crisis in Syria is still lingering, with blood, sufferings, and agonies by the population, while in Jordan, the so-called popular Hirak is still weak and unproductive.
It is astonishing to the observer that the Jordanian public mood is ambivalent toward the way it wants to achieve true and genuine social and political reforms. Demands to initiate reforms in Jordan have preceded all reform movements in the AW. Yet nothing of value was materialized on the ground. One may ask a question on why such procrastination by the regime is taking place. The answer to such a question is not an easy chore. However, one may stumble upon it with some facts and analysis.
The regime in Jordan is characterized by some basic features that make it different from other Arab regimes. It has the ability to regenerate itself in an astonishing manner. It has a natural bend for reaching compromises with its opponents, and its learning curve was declining throughout its entire historical presence in the country. Socially, the regime was able to reach out and extend its hands to all classes, tribes, religious sects and the like. And during the years, the regime was able to bluster its way out of any real conflict with its people. Such characteristics have rendered the regime, at least superficially, endeared by part of the population, and to look as a moderate in the eyes of Western Governments.
The population of Jordan has been corruptly divided in a schismatic way, (i.e. Desert dwellers vs. City dwellers, Southern dwellers vs. Northern ones, Western people vs. Eastern ones, Arabs vs. non-Arabs, and Muslims vs. Christians.) With this picture in the mind of policy makers, it was easy to fool people with reforms that were bereft of any value. In addition, the authority was able to capitalize on the weakness of the social structure. Through a weak social structure, the state apparatus was able to foist on the people corrupt institutions, and implement policies which were in favor of a tight control of the country. Security came first, it came at the expense of economic and social development.
A relevant question is in order: Is this state of affairs sustainable? Can the regime continue ignoring public demand to implement true reforms, including legislative reform, with an election that guarantees the widest possible representation?
To answer such questions, one must examine the performance of government and its politics.
It is most unfortunate to admit there are some forces in country that still have some power, and work against any true reforms. Who are they, and who supports them?
Since 1999, states institutions, including the Royal Court and the economic ministries, were infiltrated by a number of thugs who usurped powers from behind the scene, and whose aim was on dismantling the state and sell its possions, to render it weak and powerless.
When those thugs took power and started the implementation of their conspiracy, government indebtedness was nearly 6 billion JD, with full governmental control over strategic sectors like telecom and manufacturing industries. However, when the thugs’ mission was about to be completed, government indebtedness jumped to more than 14 billion dinars. At the same time the government had lost control of its main source of income. It was deprived of income from the telecom and manufacturing sectors. It had replaced its cash cow with a tax flow. From an economic point of view a cash flow from operations is more sustainable than a tax flow, for the latter is in the hand of companies gnawing at the foreign reserve of the central bank, while a cash flow from operations comes from domestic consumers with local currency.