Image by Troy Carter (@CarterTroy
“I am the type of person that wants everything done yesterday, and that doesn’t only apply to the peace process and regional stability, but also economic reform.”
-King Abdullah, answering questions at the National Press Club in Washington DC, on April 9 2001.
Since assuming the throne in 1999, King Abdullah has had a lot to say about reform and democracy. He has repeatedly stressed the need for Jordan to implement political and economic reform. He talks the talk very well, he knows exactly what to say. The part that he seems to have difficulty with is in actually taking action with these commitments.
What is clear from these quotes is that King Abdullah and the regime are not serious about the implementation of political reform, and it is time for those who have not realized this to wake up. We should not have to dig up quotes from 1999 to demonstrate our point.
May 18, 1999: “Well, I think his late Majesty started the procedure of democratic reforms, and will continue–we will continue to move in that direction. There’s a lot that needs to be done. There’s a lot of maturing that we have to go through, but it’s a process that his late Majesty started, and, and we will continue to, to see it through.”
“The sky is the limit for what can be done on, on democracy and demo–democratic reforms.”
October 13, 1999: “In fact, this is the major challenge that faces us today as we approach the dawn of a new century. A modern state with functioning institutions, and an economy that is based on sustainable growth and on private sector enterprise, guaranteed by an independent judiciary. This is our aim and this is what I have set out to guarantee and protect.”
October 14, 1999: “Through our partnership with America, we have built a unique model in our region. It is a model of peace that is cemented by the respect of the principles fo democracy, freedom of expression, political pluralism, free economic enterprise and human dignity. It is being continually reinforced through our positive interaction with our neighbors.”
October 15, 1999: “At the top of this agenda is our determination to deepen our democratization process and to ensure that the culture of democracy becomes embedded in society through daily practices. An important aspect in this regard is the issue of national unity. Jordanians, men and women, regardless of origin, religion, or ideology need to feel equal before the law, as guaranteed by our constitution.”
October 21, 1999: “We, in Jordan, are continuing the process of democratization and in developing a proper system of checks and balances. We are taking steps to ensure that the democratization process is not just a set of laws establishing the framework for political activity, but a process by which the culture of democracy becomes intertwined in our society through daily practice.”
November 1, 1999: “My esteem for your Honourable Council is unlimited. Your council is the symbol of the free Jordanian will and it is the stronghold of our democratic path and its fortress. It is the beacon of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights.”
June 2, 2000: “Cementing democracy and pluralistic ideals, in a lawful environment that safeguards our national interest, continues to be the pillar of our strategy.”
June 5, 2000: “We are providing a model for our region where political stability, democratic principles, and the rule of law are offering Jordanians the opportunity to excel, to contribute to the develpment of their country, and be assets to the region”
June 9, 2000: “ We have to realize, me dear brothers, that such substantial changes affecting all aspects of our lives cannot be done away from our democratic course. We should endeavor to establish democratic open horizons for it, protect it from all forms of abuse and harm effecting it under any pretence. We believe that deepening the awareness in democracy…”
April 4, 2001: “In the next 10 years, we will see a dramatic, positive transformation in our democracy. There is criticism that I’ve concentrated on the economy, and that politics take second place. If you can concentrate on the economy, make life better for people, improve the standard of living, you’re actually, in the long run, accelerating the process of political reform.”
April 9, 2001: “Well, for our country the priority is the economy, getting, as I’ve said from day one, food on the table. We have problems with poverty; we have problems with unemployment. If we are going to progress, if we are going to move forward on political reforms, economic reforms, we have to make the economy of paramount importance, and we’ve seen over the past two years a real improvement in that.”
November 8, 2001: “We, in Jordan, also take pride in our democracy and democratic institutions.”
“Jordan is committed to preserving, protecting and developing our democracy. And I am dedicated to ensuring that every Jordanian continues to enjoy his basic and inalienable human rights.”
June 12, 2002: “Above all, it means speaking clearly and forcefully about the principles we stand for: democracy, freedom, respecting diversity, honoring the individual and the heritage each represents.”
January 26, 2003: “Early on, we realised that for reform to last, democratic consent must be built in. Today, Jordan’s progress towards democracy and pluralism is irreversible, and we are committed to it.”
May 25, 2003: “In Jordan, we seek to promote our democratic march, through the development of political and partisan activities, and the reinvigoration of civil society institutions, which form the basic core of our renaissance and comprehensive development that we strive to achieve.”
April 16, 2004: “Long-term stability and economic growth cannot be sustained without political reform, and Jordan has made this its priority.”
April 16, 2004: “We in Jordan are already committed to the work of reform. It’s driven by a vision, a vision that builds on our society’s strengths, values and history, while it reaches out to global opportunities. And we are succeeding.”
July 2, 2004: “In Jordan, an extensive reform program is well underway. We in Jordan are already committed to the work of reform. It’s driven by a vision, a vision that builds on our society’s strengths, values and history, while it reaches out to global opportunities. And we are succeeding.”
April 27, 2005: “Reform has many aspects. It obviously includes political reforms to give citizens a stake in progress. There must be transparent, accountable institutions. We are serious about combating corruption, which is an enemy of public confidence and drains a nation’s resources.”
October 9, 2005: “The reform process is irreversible. It stems from our conviction that our people always deserve the best.”
February 3, 2006: “In recent years we have accelerated reforms across the board to meet our country’s needs. The goal is tangible, genuine progress – economic, social, and political.”
Those who like the status quo find excuses to reject reform; often, they will claim it is being imposed from outside. But Jordan’s message is: reform is ours, and our future will not be stopped.”
July 12, 2006: “As you know, there have been a number of efforts over the past few years, from governmental and nongovernmental institutions, to draft goals, plans, agendas and executive programmes that embody my vision for Jordan’s future, for reform, modernisation and development and for confronting challenges and problems that must be faced.”
September 19, 2006: “In Jordan and elsewhere, there is a serious commitment to good governance and reform.”
September 20, 2006: “We occupy a key position in the global economy. We have led the developing world in driving the reforms needed to create economic growth and opportunity.”
May 19, 2007: “Our success anchors our respective regions in prosperity and stability. And it provides a crucial model, for other countries, of what structural and economic reform can achieve.”
July 1, 2007: “We believe that economic reform is inevitable and there is no alternative to it, and we will continue our reform programme until the end.”
December 2, 2007: “Our vision for Jordan’s future is clear and ambitious; its pillar is comprehensive reform and modernization – political, economic and social – for the sake of attaining the ultimate goal: improving citizens’ standard of living and providing the means for a decent life to every Jordanian family. This is the duty of all: myself, the government and you, the two houses of parliament. I repeat: what is required is to improve the citizen’s standard of living. This for us is a principle to which we are committed in governance and administration, and not just a slogan that some reiterate to achieve interim or momentary goals.”
“When talking about political reform, the first thing that we want to emphasize is the importance of entrenching awareness of democratic culture, and developing political parties that enable Jordanian citizens’ real participation in decision-making, provided that intentions are loyal to the homeland and to the preservation and defence of our immutable national principles, and not subject to outside agendas.”
February 10, 2008: “Many of us, including Jordan, have undertaken extensive reforms and with great success.”
March 16, 2009: “We have initiated reforms that have enabled our economy to do well in the hardest of times. We believe Jordan offers an extremely lucrative environment for investment and we are trying to lure investment that can create jobs and contribute to economic growth.”
June 8, 2009: “We are determined to comprehensively review and evaluate our experience of the past years. This is essential to avoid the pitfalls and inefficiencies that may have occurred and to revive the role and performance of institutions so as to accelerate the process of reform, modernisation and development, whose results are felt by citizens and will make Jordan a strong and prosperous nation.”
November 10, 2009: “Reform and improving the economic situation are linked to stability. Therefore, it is not an issue of prioritising one over the other; stability is a priority, reform is a priority and improving economic conditions is a priority. We are working on establishing mechanisms that allow us to develop our country and improve Jordanians’ standard of living and provide our citizens with best opportunities for achievement and creativity. I said several years ago that there’s no economic reform without political reform. We are committed to reform in all its aspects out of our conviction of its necessity and the need for development and modernization that stimulate the energies of Jordanians.”
April 29, 2010: I am optimistic that with this serious effort, we will overcome the challenges and advance in our reform and development process in all political, economic, administrative and social fields.
February 20, 2011: “And when I say reform, I want real and quick reform, because without genuine reforms, the situation will remain as it was, when many officials wasted opportunities because of reluctance to move forward and fear of change… when they retreated before people with private agendas who resisted reform to guard their own interests. I will not allow that to happen again.”
“When I talk about political reform, I want real reform consistent with the spirit of the age.”
June 12, 2011: “We direly need to activate the reform programme and accelerate its implementation; for we are moving forward in the process of reform, modernisation and comprehensive development within a system of freedom, justice and equal opportunities. There will be no postponement or reluctance in dealing with the files of reform, freedom and democracy.”
August 14, 2011: “With the completion of this step, we assert that the roadmap of political reform will be achieved within a timeframe that observes institutional processes and the existing constitutional channels, and no later than the fourth quarter of this year.”
September 20, 2011: “On the issue of political reform, yes. And again four months from now, God willing, I want to feel much better.”
October 17, 2011: “Political reform characterises the current phase in the journey of our beloved Jordan.”
October 22, 2011: “The second major player in job growth is government. Let’s be clear. Political reform is economic reform. For businesses to invest and expand with confidence, they need a predictable, level playing-field… transparency and accountability… the rule of law… and a strong, stable foundation of inclusive political life.
These are key elements of Jordan’s reform effort. For us, the Arab Spring has been an opportunity to move our nation’s interests forward. We seek a consensual and evolutionary path, engaging citizens at all levels.”
October 26, 2011: “The sensitive regional circumstances and the transformations that our region is undergoing compel us to assert our firm conviction that public participation, a clear roadmap, and unwavering commitment to reform are the only way forward. We need to overcome and rectify mistakes, and uphold meritocracy and accountability, which guarantee balance between the branches of government.
Our priority today is political reform.”
January 17, 2012: “I think luckily in Jordan, we’re going from Arab Spring to Arab summer, which means we’re rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of reform. I think the Arab winters that we’re beginning to see around us have had impact on Jordanian society, to invigorate [us] to make sure we continue into the Arab summer and not into the Arab winter.”
January 26, 2012: “The Arab Spring was a positive opportunity for Jordan and an impetus towards real and comprehensive reforms, an opportunity that we seized to re-invigorate the political process in our country, setting a unique reform model for the whole region that would be a source of pride for all Jordanians.”
March 25, 2012: “The process of reform, development and modernisation is a continuous one and is necessary for Jordan’s interest. We have made great strides in that area, but the road ahead is still long and there must be concerted efforts to push the reform process forward. I have said more than once that we are committed to reform in all its aspects – political, economic and administrative – out of conviction that it is an inevitable requirement to develop the country and unleash the potential of Jordanians. And as I stated in the Letter of Designation to the government that we consider economic reform a priority due to its direct impact on people’s lives. We believe that economic reform will not achieve the results that we seek unless it becomes part of comprehensive political, social and administrative reforms that ensure the highest degree of public participation in decision making through efficient institutions that work transparently to exemplify achievement and address deficiencies and shortcomings wherever they may occur.”
June 20, 2012: “Since the start of the Arab Spring, I have had open and public stands. What I meant, more specifically, was that the Arab Spring had an impact on the pace of all aspects of reform in Jordan; add to that the general climate in our region, which constituted another catalyst for development and modernisation. The pace of reforms in the last decade in Jordan has often been described as progressive, but “two steps forward, one step backward”. The reasons are many and complicated, including the existence of certain powers that deem reform a threat to their interests. Other reasons included lack of a clear agenda and scale of priorities pertaining to reform or consensus over it, in addition to other factors and the regional developments that we all know. The situation today, mostly due to the Arab Spring, is better in Jordan in terms of clarity on the reform agenda and priorities, in addition to a general conviction among large segments of the population that reform is essential and inevitable. I am with my people, on the same boat when it comes to the belief that comprehensive reform is our ultimate goal, which we shall not give up. God willing, we will achieve our goals.”
April 18, 2012: “I am confident that 2012 will be a year of key political reform in Jordan.”
September 13, 2012: “Regional challenges are no excuse not to proceed with reform. We are confident enough with the reform process not to use regional challenges to step away from what Jordanians want to achieve – a strong drive for reform. We will continue with the reform process and our drive for elections by the end of this year”
September 25, 2012: “In Jordan we have charted our course guided by our heritage of mutual respect and moderation. Our Arab Spring journey is one of opportunity, to accelerate home-grown reforms and achieve national goals.”
October 23, 2012: “Here, I would like to assure you that our country is on the right track towards the reform we aspire to, and I would like to reiterate that we will have a new Parliament by the new year, following parliamentary elections that will be conducted with the highest degree of integrity and transparency.”
December 4, 2012: In Jordan, the pace of reform has been consistent with our national political priorities.
December 5, 2012: I look at the reforms achieved so far — the constitutional amendments, Constitutional Court, the IEC, the development of laws governing political life, early elections slated for January, and then starting to pilot a parliamentary government in line with the people’s aspirations and the nature of Jordan’s political structure…. All this is part of phase one, which will give us a boost but is not in itself the end of our democratisation course…The future of reform is in the hands of the Jordanian voters as they go to the polls early next year. They are the ones who will decide the composition of the coming parliament and government.