In an article for LobeLog, POMED Deputy Director for Strategic Development Arwa Shobaki responds to Shehab al-Mekahlah’s op-ed entitled “Jordan Attempts to Transform Challenges into Opportunities.” She argues that—far from being the model nation it seeks to be—Jordan’s stability is threatened by its repressive tendencies and diminishing public trust.

After reading Shehab al-Mekahlah’s LobeLog post, “Jordan Attempts to Transform Challenges into Opportunities,” I felt compelled to respond. I am also a Jordanian that cares deeply for the country’s prosperity and stability, but my understanding and knowledge of the nation and its current challenges could not be more different from al-Mekahlah’s. He states that “King Abdullah II is presently building on the national ethos of the Jordanian people to develop their country as a model for others to follow in terms of pluralism, cohesion, modernity, and moderation.” Sadly, that’s simply not the Jordan that I see.

Although Jordan remains an important ally of Western and regional powers, and has managed to maintain stability in a volatile neighborhood, this stability has been and will continue to be challenged. Jordan is not immune from public discontent, nor is it safe from terror attacks.  The 2011 regional uprisings did provide Jordanians with a rare public platform to express long-suppressed social and political frustration linked to a struggling economy, allegations of widespread corruption, a weak and bloated public sector, and limited freedoms of expression and association.

Continuing to gloss over a not-so-shiny record of human rights and reform with slick diplomacy neither quells dissent nor addresses the demands of a bulging youth population with limited future hope and vision. Censoring expression, curbing association,  and denying due process do not foster the pluralism or modernity that al-Mekahlah describes, nor does it build trust between Jordan’s citizens and its rulers. And this is especially true when one-third of the population lives below the poverty line…

To read the full article click here.

Photo: Elizabeth Arrott / Wikimedia Commons