Thursday, March 29, 2007

Palajordanian view (spoken with a P B accent) Part DOS

In part UNO I Discussed the first scenario, so Today we will hit the second one !

the Second type: The current situation in Jordan is heading for the better, just give it time and it will be better. The monarchy is a better system than the democracy and we must bond with whatever makes us Jordanian, and put Jordan as the first priority on our agenda!
(Oh) and if we adopt democracy the people that will be in power will not have Jordan's interest in their hearts and will ruin the country.

So in order to really appreciate were we are going a visit to were we have been in recent history is required.
Since The Inauguration of King Abdullah the Second in February 7, 1999 The main focus for Jordan was on 3 fronts:
  • Political Reform
  • Economical Reform
  • Social & Educational Reform
Which are encompassed in an illusive illusion called the National Agenda, which keeps on popping up intermittently.
In terms of political reform, no seismic movements occurred. The natural flow of here comes a new cabinet and here goes a new cabinet remained.
Major questionable decision were made (e.g. the insurance policy for the cars comes to mind), and the underlying belief of the population of highly spread corruption in the political organism got re-enforced. So all in all not much occurred on this level.
The Social & Educational Reform has moved forwarded successfully, since Mr. Touqan has been appointed as the head of the ministry he has been able to establish a long-term plan to improve the local schools.
With the increased inflation there has been an influx of students moving to public schools, This has put more pressure on the ministry.
Plagued with a choke corded budget, lack of resources, a head strong mentality of the educational body, and logistic complications have slowed the process considerably.
Although some people have been pessimistic about the progress, what The minister set out to achieve is a Herculean task. Great strides have been achieved and the program will be implemented in the near future.
One side effect to the complete implementation is the controversy that will arise due to the curricula.
On the social side, although the actual effects have not been felt yet but the status of Queen Rania on the philanthropic end has been enormous, the work she has been doing in that area focused a spotlight on the country again. Gave Jordan and iconic status in that area, but at the end of the day the actual effect that filtered to the population has not been as visible.

The major focus during this era has been the economic reform in 2002 the IMF program was finished, and managed to Join TWO(2000) and secure a free trade accord with the US(2001) and an association agreement with the EU(2001). Due to this the privatization of Jordan began, and Jordan became a free trade country. Aqaba became a special economic zone which was one of the major pillars in the economical reform plan.

At this point you might be wondering why the focus is so much on the social and economical sides rather than the political side. The reason is simple, for the current system to maintain the status-quo, the commons need to live comfortably again they will eventually forgot about the internal political side. If the economical and social pressures keep erking the populous that will reflect on their political activism.

Some background number the official estimate for the population is 5,906,760 (UN July 2006 est ) , with a GDP of $28.89 billion (2006 est.) at a growth of 6% (2006 est.). The distribution of income lowest 10%: 3.3% highest 10%: 29.8% (1997). while the unemployment rates officially stand at 15.4% official rate; while the unofficial rate is approximately 30% (2006 est.)
The national debt is 72.2% of GDP (30 September 2006 est.) down from 105.1% of GDP in 1999. finally the percent of the population under the poverty line is 30% (2001 est.) (i need to verify a source but according to what i can recall the poverty line was set at 500JOD salary for a 6.8 member family)

These numbers show that the government reform plan is succeeding on the macroeconomical level, and Jordan is promising investors to be a haven, so the investments constitute 24.8% of GDP (2006 est.). On the micro societal side it shows that the lower class is tightning their belts, with the unemployment rates increasing during this period in the official and non official numbers.
With the inflation rates increasing at a 2% per year average every year since 2001 the effects are very visible to their everyday life, this has drove the commons into a corner. Eventually it might prompt them to take action if driven any further. With the wealth distribution being typically capitalistic it will be nature effect to witness an increase in crimes and unrest.

In order to avert the situation the government will need to move on a number of layers;

First the localization of population in the capitol, highly localized people will tend to bond together and stand for their rights. So incentive must be utilized for the population to spread.
the incentive should aim at localizing the population in the ASEZA, to provide the work force for the development.
That means a creation of the suburb notion in Jordan, and to market the area as a long term establishment rather than a leisure spot for the rich
with investments topping $540 million (Tala bay, saraya, Aila Bay, AIIE ceramics factory) and a major ADC capital investment plan estimated at $2,600 million will provide the employment to the population (projected to hit almost 50000 new jobs in 2009) these numbers are according to the AZEM report
the only other incentive required to dissipate the population cluster is to provide free schooling in that area, and raise the level of education in the current schools. Also providing special grants for relocation will aid the process considerably.

With the bases for the political movement fragmented, opposition from the people of the lower class will be reduced. Further development in the northern border, and establishing a trade city on the Iraqi borders will help further relocation to that area, and will establish a very flourishable service area for travellers on that route and to the neighbouring Gulf country.

At this point you have dealt with the problems of over-population and unemployment, but that leaves the upper class which has been demanding political representation. To deal with this class the economical incentives will prove tempting, and their natural gluttony will help take care of the rest if we are optimistic. A readjustment of the representation based on the population spread will manage to develop a faux representation in the political system.

To deal with the refugee problem, a new special worker standing can be introduced to accommodate better living standard for them, this way they will contribute more to the economical growth. Also this will prove as a stepping stone on the international scene, and will prove rewarding in terms of grants and aids. One importance for that worker status is to not be called temporary or worker, maybe special standing would be fitting, and dilute the purpose.

The inflation will be regulated by the national debt, an increase in the upper class tax can be utilized to ease the effect on the lower class in terms of special privileges (free education, food stamps al)

The major point to gain the public support is to extract visible elements of corruption, the media will be of a great tool in this area. the zealous nature of station akin to Al-Jazeera may be abused to inadvertly highlight this issue with a few public cases. Since they have the commons trust than can be utilized the adjust the psyche of the nation.
That would require taking a few major hits, and scandals that might cause certain scares in the society but if controlled they will be able to garner much affection and economical effect than collateral. scape goats is the word.

With the economical and social tensions relaxed that will naturally reduce the spiritual escaping and secular hemorrhage that is being observed. As for the Iraqis, governmental grants with association with local banks could be used as an incentive to drive them into acquiring the a special status akin to the refugees' suggested status, this will ease up the inflation since it will drive up the GDP and increase the market liquidity.

OH well this daydreaming cycle has proved to be more challenging that I imagined, and I believe I lost focus towards the end. The general idea here is that it is achievable and for the short term. It will reflect well on the general population. The requirements is that the regional situation doesn't deteriorate any further, and the USA economy to not collapse since that will prove to be catastrophic.

Summary: points to achieve;
  • Dissipate the population cluster through incentive for relocation to rural areas
  • Providing a special status to the residing Iraqis and refugees
  • Seriously fight corruption in a manner that is more visibly exposed to the media so it will register with the society
  • readjust the political system by giving more weight to the newly populated areas in order to reduce the seat count for the capitol, and at the same time provide faux representation for the upper class
third part coming tomorrow :D
Ps. please do comment since I was scatter brained when i wrote it and the only way to get a more fractal view is to discuss it

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  • A very ambitious agenda!

    My favourite point is the suburbanization of Jordan, Amman is over populated indeed.

    I remember a similar program in Egypt where they offered young educated people the opportunity to own land and a small business by relocating them to smaller undeveloped areas; I am not sure of the outcome of this program but the principle of the idea seems good.

    Lets face it, it's almost impossible for people from the middle class, and I am saying middle middle class and lower middle class who are surviving day by day to own a house or a car. Offer them the dream of owning one and they might relocate instead of immigrating.

    The suburbs have to be very attractive for people to relocate so I suggest the government give tax relief to businesses from Jordan and outside willing to relocate or open shop in a less populated area. Maybe offer them loans to open up those businesses?

    I think that's what Dubai is doing and that's why it's the hub now (I can be mistaken about Dubai but I think I heard that somewhere).

    As for the other points, I am really not an expert in politics but they seem reasonable to me :)

    By Anonymous 7aki Fadi, At 29/3/07 19:11  

  • By the way , what's a PB accent?

    By Anonymous 7aki Fadi, At 29/3/07 19:12  

  • hey always nice to have you around, I don't with regard to Egypt or Dubai but i'll have to check that out.
    All the incentive you have mentioned are great, but it will be more attractive to the lower class to move . plus easier :D

    Oh the PB accent is when you say a p as a b. for example you say pay "as in offer money in exchange for something" as Bay(sic)

    there is a pun there somewhere but its eluding me :P

    By Blogger No_Angel, At 29/3/07 21:09  

  • I think the regime is really trying to scatter keeping the current shape of the north and the south and hopefully adding more people to those areas, and the reasons are booth economical and political. In my opinion, there have been increasing dissatisfaction with the regime in said areas as it became apparent lately in Ma’an uprising. And it appeared (at least for the government) that it’s actually easier for the government to gain acceptance in the more populated cities, therefore, they are trying to increase the regime acceptance in those areas by providing economical opportunity (in Aqpa and Mafraq) and ease the tribal settings by adding more diverse population. Off course, they picked those two areas to increase their return on investment (Mafraq with Iraq and Karak, Ma’an with Aqapa)
    Honestly, I think fighting corruption initiatives are only to improve Jordan image for investors and international donors. As for the upper class representation it appears to most Jordanians that the upper class is the one being represented especially in terms of ministers and top executive posts even if there’s disparity in this representations, it looks like that there are certain people and families that get the posts every time if not the sun, brother in-law or somebody from that same circle.

    By Blogger Firas, At 29/3/07 21:24  

  • I got the Bun (pun) now :).

    Firas has a very interesting point.

    By Blogger 7aki Fadi, At 30/3/07 02:45  

  • No-angel:
    Thanks for your analysis, I agree that 60% of Jordan is from Palestinian origin, and I agree that they had the greatest role in building the modern Jordan, and we have to agree that our parents are more tolerable than our new generation..

    I think I fall in the second type which is this one:D as you analyzed me:)

    Mohanned point of view:
    1-Jordan is an independent country, our political parties have to put the Jordanian interests first, some of Jordan’s interests may not be compatible with the interests of Palestine or even our Arab brothers, the history taught Jordan that it was left on its own when it needed the Arabs most.
    2-We have to create a national identity for Jordan, Jordan will welcome anyone who loves Jordan and who is loyal to the country (PEOPLE).
    3-The creation of a Palestinian state is critical for Jordan, after the creation of Palestine people would have to choose between the two states and where they want to be.
    4-Palestine has enough political parties and armed fractions, Jordan will always support Palestine, and Palestinians are our twins, special ties will be created after the creation of Palestine.
    5-Jordanian political parties should focus on the internal situation in Jordan, we have poverty, crime, education, etc…
    6-Foreign policy should put Jordan’s interests first.
    7-Democracy doesn’t mean the majority rule, it means the rule of people, democracy is not measured by how many seats a party got, it is measured by the rights that are given to the people of our country specially minorities.
    8-The party that takes control should be responsible, their actions should not put Jordan in danger.
    9-The IAF has their own agenda and their own definition of democracy, they call for democracy but at the same time they silence anyone who stands in their face. The IAF is a political arm for foreign countries; they use religion as a tool not as a goal.
    10-Religion is something between an individual and god, times has changed and our interpretations of Islam have to change (Islam is for anytime and anyplace).
    11-Education is our only way to change, and change is a process that needs time, our education should focus on scientific research and critical thinking.
    12-Corruption is killing Jordan; it should be handled by elected officials whose backgrounds are known to the public.

    That’s what popped up in my mind, I am not against Palestine and Palestine is every Muslim heart. Lets build a strong Jordan, Jordan that can help our Arab causes, Jordan that can depend on itself and not be bullies by everyone, but to get to this point we have to put Jordan first.

    By Blogger Mohanned Al-arabiat, At 30/3/07 04:39  

  • Mshan alla ma 7ada yseb 3lay:D

    By Blogger Mohanned Al-arabiat, At 30/3/07 04:42  

  • Firas:
    True regarding that those areas were chosen for the ROI, but I have a big question mark regarding that uprising in Ma'an ?? am not quite so sure it was due to dissatisfaction with the regime, from what i heard it has nothing to do with that. more criminal intent than anything else. (unless you were referring to the previous one which was just as you mentioned)
    Then again in those area the main outlet for earning money is the military there is nothing else & that has to change by either moving them back to agriculture or moving them towards the service area for the new cities.
    fighting corruption currently is for our image true, what i was saying is to target it towards the people more.
    I'll be honest i don't believe they can eliminate corruption, what i was suggesting is scape goat a few "2itgal" so that the people will believe in it more, and the small fries will stop doing it.

    Yes representation for the high class needs to be abolished, we stopped believing in those names a long time ago. so when i mentioned high-class is the new or other high class that has been established economically but has no access to politics. the only way for that to occur is by appointment otherwise we will always get the same names through elections since the majority lost faith in it.

    very few ppl make it here so don't worry :D just one weird thing why are you speaking from the 3rd person ?
    1 & 6. Jordan is actually Dependant, not that its a bad thing but since we don't have a strong economy or natural resource we will always be.
    So you always try to balance your friends and enemies not based on what the people see but on what will maintain your existence
    2. that is the thing a national identity won't sit well with jordanian, the threat of a reaction is not only one sided in jordan
    3 & 4. never will happen, so why fantasize ? then again you are saying they will have a choice (candid hope they would choose Pal) the reality is most of them don't know another home so why should they move?
    5, 8, & 9. Parties are impotent, and unless the election system is revamped that won't change.(also not gonna happen under this scenario) the IAF is just a tool that went out of check thats all.
    worst comes to worst, stricter methods will be used against them. whatever party takes control they have no power in reality, just like all us arabs they like to talk thats all.
    10 & 11 Education is too slow, while the situation doesn't really allow that much time for the education to have any significant effect, and your suggestion to turn secular will unite the majority (more like 90%) of the pop against it, so its a no brainer that decision will still be influenced by it (especially education actually)
    12. lets not beat around the bush why would an elected official want to fight corruption ? just because he is an honest person ? i don't think there is anything for him to benifit from fighting it, in actuality its a career suicide at this point of time.

    By Blogger No_Angel, At 30/3/07 21:43  

  • No-angel:
    I think that you an me are on the same page, but one point: you said I had a candid hope, and I say to you I don't, I just want that people who live on jordanian soil be loyal to the country and agian I say COUNTRY, I don't care who rules the country as long as he/she put jordnaian interests first.
    And Why I am fantasizing about the creation of an independent palastine, this should be in the minds of every palastenian.
    I didn't get the third person thing? I posted something about how I see democracy, check it out..Nice talking to you brother..
    And I will add you to my favs if you don't mind...Good luck..

    By Blogger Mohanned Al-arabiat, At 30/3/07 22:59  

  • I might have mischaracterized the Ma’an uprising.
    While the spark that ignited the uprising was mainly criminal. I guess what shocked every body (gov, ppl, and monarchy) is the amount of support that a person who lived most of his life out of the city was able to gain in a short period of time and more importantly the difficulties that faced the army in putting this resistance to a sleep, and how fast the perceived loyalty to the regime might change. Considering the wide geographical spread of the northern and the southern areas (e.g. mafraq and Ma’an) and the social-economical status in said areas. The regime is worried of quickly losing grip of those areas (80% of Jordan size) in the likelihood of any problems or confrontation. The regime is trying to solve this on the two fronts socially; easing the tribal loyalty and effects by adding more people, and economically; improving the living standards by creating jobs (make ppl happy with them) and ultimately help people to move back to those areas, hence, changing the demographics as well.
    I agree with you that in said areas the military/gov is the largest employer and this is part of the problem; the wages are not enough and the army can’t keep adding people to the army/ gov while keeping the same living standards to its members. with the great consensus at all levels that they can’t let this happen and turn the military to a risk factor instead of a stabilization factor. Basically they don’t want the military to grow unhappy about their economical situation and cause problems to Jordan stability. More members means bigger military, less professional and less benefits and after a while the military will turn to something like the 70's arab armies, in the event of any disturbance they will overthrow the regime. Honestly, I think the USA military aid every year been a great factor in minimizing this.
    As for the corruption we are on the same page. And there’s no way you can eliminate corruption –completely- not even in the most democratic systems. In my opinion, gaining an edge on this front would require:
    1) Increase the transparency of all government operation. This will make every body [from normal citizens to gov officials] involved in fighting the corruption.
    2) Real and complete independence in judicial branch of the government along with accountability for government operations. If something goes wrong their must be somebody accountable tried in a court of law.
    3) Increase, regulate, and give more independence to the oversight agencies in the government to do their job effectively.
    As for the high-class I agree to some extent but It seems those people or the new high-class as you described them are not really popular in the streets especially with the attitude toward privatization and capitalism. People are looking for someone who really now their problems and can relate to their needs and they don’t feel that they are getting this from those people.
    I would like to add this to you and mohaned arguments at least to show a point of view and clarify some things.
    See Mohand it seems like you are trying to isolate Jordan from the rest of the Arab world and Palestine. And this really hard for many reasons, first is geographical proximity. Second and most importantly are demographics of Jordan. Third is the economical, effect of such isolation. Therefore, the stability of Palestine is actually in Jordan best interest and it’s really hard to isolate one from the other.
    As for a Jordanian national identity it’s really hard if not impossible to create a Jordan identity that is isolated from Palestine at least in the mean time until the Palestinians issues are solved and the refugee matters are settled. And this is fine if it’s a cultural not political identity,but I am not sure how we can evaluate or judge this, since we are dealing with pure feelings here. On a different front, east Jordanians and government feel that many Jo/Pal consider Jordan as temporary home and they fail to label them self as ‘Jordanian’ or even a ‘Jordanian of Palestinian origin’ and as a result of that they don’t understand or accept that such person would want to be involved in the politics of a country that they do not feel identity with. Many Palestinian Jordanians feel that way, and choose to refrain from involvement in Jordanian politics. Truthfully, this is a straightforward and internally consistent approach. On the other hand, the government (and some people) in general, treat Jo/Pal (and some opposing Jordanians) with a flat rule especially when it comes to sensitive Jobs (political and security jobs) and this wrong and unjust to many people who only know Jordan as their country . In my opinion a system based on the merit will solve this.
    I agree with no-angel the IAF is just a tool that went out of check and their "Land of Mobilization and Fortitude" statement is only votes propaganda. However, the troubling fact is that they do not present any REAL political agenda in addition to their undemocratic approach, a party that still uses “shora” as a way for their internal election can’t lead a democratic government. At least in my opinion.
    I am sorry for the long comment; I tried to be as impartial as I can. I hope this will help.

    By Blogger Firas, At 31/3/07 10:27  

  • Back to the economical aspects and 7aki-fadi's point; I think we do need a reform in the sense that there is a distribution of the economical growth in all areas. Mainly, by focusing on industrial and agricultural investment rather than services and real states, as at the long run those provide more to the economy in the sense that if there is agriculture and industry in one area the private sector will run to complement the areas with services and real state. This might be done by gearing incentives toward such investments. Second, is the suburbanization of Jordan and this very important and can be achieved in two ways one as you said is by creating jobs in those areas. Second, is building huge transportation infrastructure in those cities and in Amman as well, like the recent train between Zarqa and Amman. This needs to be extended to north and the south, so people won’t have to live in the city they are employed in. easier said than done, ha?

    By Blogger Firas, At 31/3/07 10:52  

  • Firas: this is what happens in the rest of the world, you live in the suburbs and work in the big city which makes the transit system very important and trains are the way to go because you don’t suffer from congestion on the highways and roads.

    I wish I can fast forward to see how Jordan will fair in the future and I hope that people making the decisions are reading what people have to say

    So a realizable goal: build more train tracks and connect Jordan from North to South , this will definitely bring people to smaller cities if not to live at least to visit, who would not want to live/visit a nice quite green or un-crowded area? Also makes transporting things from Aqaba to the rest of Jordan easier and faster.

    The benefits of doing this are plenty.

    By Blogger 7aki Fadi, At 31/3/07 18:05  

  • In all I see that we all agree on the prinicples. My points were just to show how I want things to be. The identity issue and the independence, in this new global economy there is no independant country in the whole world, what I meant by independent that we have to have our own identity like syrians, egyptians or even iraqis..

    " it’s really hard if not impossible to create a Jordan identity that is isolated from Palestine at least in the mean time until the Palestinians issues are solved and the refugee matters are settled."
    Thats my same idea, we are on the same page, democracy in jordan is connected with resolving the palastine issue. So it is a jordanian interest to create an independent palastenian state, and after that we can discuss the special ties that we will have..

    By Blogger Mohanned Al-arabiat, At 31/3/07 19:42  

  • regarding ma'an the problem they had in my opinion was mainly due to tribal loyalties and that part can't be eased since its their bread and butter. which also plays into the corruption side of things.
    regarding the transparency true that will help, but in reality what will be more beneficial is to establish a true department capable of creating statistics and polls. we are lacking in that area we dont have statistics regarding most things. and barely the major statistics are available.
    Am just glad that we are up to 13 comments and no body is screaming here
    thank you people

    By Blogger No_Angel, At 31/3/07 21:09  

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