It is very noticeable in His Majesty King Abdullah’s letter to the newly appointed Director of the General Intelligence Department (GID), Major General Ahmad Husni, the level of frankness in highlighting the professional mistakes of several institutions. This is a clear message in an exceptional situation that requires this kind of non-traditional approach.
The change of GID Director must not be the last, as the mistakes referred to in the Royal Letter are not limited to one institution. This could be an indication of further changes across the political spectrum. This change, and addressing of the issues is exactly what is needed to rebuild trust and credibility of the state in the eyes of the people.
While there has been some optimism that change has begun and the white revolution is about to spark, the third cabinet reshuffle in less than a year has not been enough to meet population expectations. In fact, it has created an atmosphere of disappointment as it is seen as incremental change that does not address the underlying concerns, nor does it remove the people in power who are failing to deliver, and could have a negative impact on the bureaucratic system.
The political attitude of the government and the changes made so far do not yet appear to match the level of expectation in the community. In fact, there is a growing sense amongst the population that the approach since the Arab Spring has been to maintain soft power and shuffle people around without actually addressing the underlying concerns.
The approach to containing and addressing community concerns needs to be the most efficient and least risky, especially given the levels of anger, frustration and poverty that is driving the protests. It is imperative to avoid destabilization, and the establishment needs to consider the line from Dante’s masterpiece, the Divine Comedy; “from a little spark may burst a flame.”
Jordan needs to inspire national solidarity to face the challenges that it is facing. A new strategy and approach are required that takes into consideration the need to revise domestic and regional policies. It is imperative to work on improving relations with geographical neighbors. Ending relations with Syria will negatively impact across the north of the country, and a new approach to this situation is imperative.
It is strategically important that Jordan works to minimize the risks of social unrest, especially in such difficult economic conditions. It is important to adopt flexible and progressive polices, that work on creating outcomes of mutual interests between Jordan and its neighbors.
The changes in the security apparatus must accompany more efficient and effective government performance across the board. Facing the current challenges requires an extraordinary vision capable of addressing the domestic problems and the potential consequences of a changing regional situation on Jordan.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh