Jordan Day in Washington, DC and Amman


Obama and Abdullah II of Jordan.jpgToday, I happen to be in Amman, Jordan — just arrived and learned that today is the 10th Anniversary of the accession to the throne of King Abdullah and the 60th Anniversary of diplomatic relations with the U.S.
Prince Zeid Ra’ad, Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States (who had been this blog’s preference to be Secretary General of the United Nations in the last round), hosted a great party this evening in the Library of Congress with my friend Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) and other Members — but I didn’t get to partake as was already in route over here.
The King has been outstanding in my view in standing as a resolute, clear-headed voice in favor of ending the status quo of doing nothing in the Israel-Palestine dispute.
I am over here doing some interviews and will be in Syria tomorrow.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


13 comments on “Jordan Day in Washington, DC and Amman

  1. ... says:

    johnh – wigwag holds the same policy here as israel does on nuclear weapons…it’s called opaque.. it’s the elephant in the room visible to anyone paying attention here at twn…


  2. JohnH says:

    Wigwag–good to see you trying to parse the shades of despotism to separate friend from foe. Why just the other day, you were telling us how bad things are in Turkey, which has a democracy. Now you’re telling us how great things are in Jordan, which is an authoritarian monarchy and has a per capita GDP half that of Turkey or Iran.
    Why don’t you come out an just say it? You think Jordan is currently a better friend of USsrael than Turkey, so you like Jordan. And with that attitude, you have good company in Washington. Tribalism uber alles!


  3. WigWag says:

    I am afraid you have it backwards, JohnH.
    The per-capita income of Iran may be twice as large as Jordan’s but then again, Iran has the third largest oil reserves in the world. It has the ability to export in excess of 2 million barrels per day as opposed to Jordan which exports no oil. What’s amazing is how a nation endowed with the natural resources Iran is, can be as poor, backwards and underdeveloped as Iran. If King Abdullah’s nation had the natural resources Iran does, you can count on the fact that Jordan would be far wealthier than Iran is.
    Unlike the Mullahs in Iran, King Abdullah doesn’t sanction and financially support thugs on motor scooters who travel around checking to see how much hair women have exposed while they are out walking on the street. Nor does he support or tolerate the rape of demonstrators whose only ambition is greater freedom.
    There are Sunni extremists in Jordan (the Muslim Brotherhood) who aspire to the same reactionary social policies as the Shia extremists in Iran. But in Iran, those extremists have been incorporated into the governmental apparatus. In Jordan, the monarch works to keep religious extremists under control as much as he can.
    Jordan is far from perfect. But comparing King Abdullah to villains like Ahmadenijad and Khamenei is just dumb.


  4. JohnH says:

    I love it!!!! Many of those praising the KING of Jordan are the same as those condemning the leaders of Iran! Iran gets savaged for its election system, but Jordan gets exempted. And Iran’s per capita income is more than twice Jordan’s.
    Just goes to show that the measure is not freedom, democracy, or prosperity. The only thing that matters to some is whether a country is a friend of USreal or not. Once that is determined, the arguments get lined up, the facts included or selectively ignored, to praise or condemn a particular regime.
    Bottom line: it’s all tribal. Freedom, democracy, human rights, and prosperity mean nothing to these posters. They’re just pawns in the debate.


  5. WigWag says:

    King Abdullah is certainly no Thomas Jefferson, but there are no Thomas Jeffersons in the Arab world. In fact, there are no Thomas Jeffersons in the Israeli political leadership right now either.
    The King’s position is precarious. The economy of his nation is second-rate. He has a growing problem with the Islamic Brotherhood. Relations between Palestinians and Bedouin in Jordan are imperfect at best. Tens of thousands of Sunni refugees from Iraq, expelled by Shia militias affiliated with Iran are a destabilizing force. Problems abound in the Old City where supposedly the King plays a special role. The idea that Jordan is Palestine, while quiescent, could reemerge at any time. The King’s reign is threatened by lack of peace between Israelis and Palestinians but there are a number of scenarios where his reign could actually be threatened by peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Since World War I there have been assassinations and assassination attempts galore against members of his family.
    Under these circumstances, the King has done a remarkable job of protecting civil liberties in Jordan and creating a relatively tolerant society. What Arab nation has a more progressive society that Jordan? How much can really be expected of the King? Every majority Muslim nation in the world today is poor, backwards and on the bottom wrung of economic development. Under these circumstances, instead of criticizing the King, perhaps he should be congratulated for a job well done.
    None of this changes the fact that without the IDF and the Mossad, King Abdullah’s father would probably have been deposed long before the current King was coronated.
    It’s enough to make you wonder why the King doesn’t abdicate and move to the United States where he would be greeted warmly. He could write books and lecture like his step-mother does and maybe he could become a visiting fellow at some think tank or other.
    My guess is that he continues in what is a difficult and thankless job because he is a patriot who cares about the future of his people.
    To stay in power, he has to say alot of dumb things and ignore alot of truths. But be fair. That just makes him like every other politician in the world.
    And the King should look at the bright side. Once Haim Saban completes the purchase of Al Jazeera, coverage of the King should improve dramatically.
    At least that’s something to look forward to.


  6. nadine says:

    So if King Abdullah is really so beloved, what made him disown such a large percentage of his own population? How can you call someone a “civil rights protector” who does that? If you have no citizenship, you have no civil rights.
    This must be a large number of people we are talking about. About 350,000 Arabs left the West Bank in 1967, refusing to be ruled by Israel. They and their descendants must be close to a million people by now. Did King Abdullah really just make nearly a million people stateless? Why is this a non-news event?
    However it seems that you are determined to overlook this little faux pas in light of King Abdullah’s utility. But let’s not confuse Jordan with a democracy.
    “the king has been more than outstanding
    in supporting the status quo locally and DOING
    NOTHING to reform and democratize the country…!!!”
    Ashraf, I think you just agreed with me.


  7. Josh Meah says:

    You make the king sound oppressive. Have you been
    to Jordan? The people love their king —
    Palestinians and Bedouins alike.
    Also, placing Jordan’s treatment of Palestinians
    as similar to Israel’s treatment is absurd. Do you
    really mean that? Palestinians are probably not
    80% of the overall population, but they definitely
    dominate any lucrative sector of the Jordanian
    economy. Bedouin culture is marginalized and the
    vast majority of the traditional Bedouin now work
    in the army and are without skill in any
    particular trade the extends outside of their
    pastoral traditions.
    Cut the king some slack. It really sounds like you
    have no idea what you are writing about.
    That said, I’m glad you stated what you did, and
    hopefully this discussion further illuminates the
    positive role King Abdullah and his family play in
    the region.


  8. Ashraf Z says:

    Nadine – It seems you havent lived in Jordan for
    sometime and havent visited it for quite sometime
    … because let me tell you that all that you said
    is not true, and I am a Jordanian of Palestinian
    origin … and I can prove my statement.
    As for steve’s comment, you can also add on the
    local front, the king has been more than outstanding
    in supporting the status quo locally and DOING
    NOTHING to reform and democratize the country…!!!


  9. Steve Clemons says:

    Nadine — I don’t think that is a fair criticism on citizenship at all. Jordan is an important, secular, civil rights protecting state in the Middle East that has been host to huge refugee populations from Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere. There are about 700,000 Iraqi refugees in a nation of six million. So, let’s not over generalize the challenges here and throw a criticism the Jordanian state’s way without looking at the important absorption role it has been playing with very little international support. best, steve clemons


  10. nadine says:

    “The King has been outstanding in my view in standing as a resolute, clear-headed voice in favor of ending the status quo of doing nothing in the Israel-Palestine dispute.”
    Yup, he’s been a voice, alright. But in reality, behind the scenes, nobody is more against a PLO run terrorist statelet in the West Bank, because it would threaten Jordan as much as Israel. He remembers Black September in 1970.
    Did anybody at the TWN even NOTICE that marvellous King Abdullah just deprived all the Palestinian citizens of Jordan (who are 80% of population) of their Jordanian citizenship if they have lived in Jordan for less than 40 years? Geez, you think that might have attracted some attention if Israel had tried it? But, no, this was just Arab-on-Arab, so it’s not news. This from people who claim to care so very much about the sufferings of the poor Palestinians. (In reality, the care is exactly proportion to the amount of blame that can be assigned to Israel. No blame, no interest. Regardless of the suffering.)
    And regarding democracy in Jordan: there isn’t much of it. The mukhabarat (secret police) is very active and the King relies on his loyal Bedouin. But as Arab regimes go, it’s better than average.


  11. JohnH says:

    Maybe Wigwag and Steve, both avid supporters of democracy in Iran, could comment on the state of democracy in Jordan.
    Like the United States, one house of parliament represents mostly unpopulated areas. But unlike the United States, the other house gets appointed by the King! Now there’s democracy for you. And it’s almost certain that democracy protesters would meet the same fate as those in Iran.
    And, of course, Jordan is one of the United States’ biggest allies in the region. Go figure!


  12. Mr.Murder says:

    Regional interactive engagement, to which a series of benchmarks can be attached.
    The complex matter is actually a strength. Gains in any one sector can accelerate positive benefit elsewhere, including the ability to lead by example.
    Thus gain in the Israel Palestine model can benefit measures in neighboring lands. Advance for Syria can help with the regional transition facinf Lebanon and neighboring Iraq.
    Agreement with neighbors can pattern deeper engagement in the leadership role of Turkey, etc.
    True there are ethnic and historical overlays across these boundaries. Look to that as a way of developing regional accord to fullest available measure.


  13. WigWag says:

    Glad you arrived safely Steve. Perhaps your associates in Jordan can fill you in on the latest in King Abdullah’s fight with the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. I am sure that many of your eager readers would find a discussion of that topic quite edifying.


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