Monday, April 28, 2008

How Will Jordan Look in 30 Years?

Being Jordanian myself, I have considered several times the possibility of Jordan being completely wiped off the map of the Middle East. I don't think I'm alone here. Plenty of Jordanians have witnessed events that threatened the very existence of Jordan as a nation. For many years the main threat to Jordan was not only coming from Israel but rather from the neighbors; Iraq, Syria and Egypt. The leaderships in these countries have considered the Jordanian regime an obstacle to the liberation of Palestine and the unity of Arabs. For about three decades after its foundation, Jordan had witnessed several wars with Israel, one brief dirty civil war, the assassination of the king and two prime ministers, in addition to several assassination attempts on late King Hussein and states of instability that the country went through but miraculously survived.

Jordan is about sixty-years old. I will personally divide it into two eras, each being three-decades long. The first is the one I just talked about, and the second is the one starting in the late 1970s, after Al-Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel. It looks to me that whatever happens in Egypt will soon affect the Arab world one way or another..
First came Nasser, and his nationalistic tone hit Arabs in their core. They loved him. Then came Sadat, he gave Arabs victory but later infuriated them with shaking hands with the enemy. Whether they liked or not, Arab leaders realized they could not fight a major war with Israel without Egypt being an essential part of it.

Beginning in the late 70's Jordan became a more secure country, the country that most of the young people including me know, a safe country where nothing wrong should happen. The main threats to Jordan were not external anymore. The Iraqi regime became less hostile at the time Al-Baker. Syria's tone towards Jordan calmed down after Black September, and Al-Sadat had no interest in toppling the Jordanian regime. Israel knew that Jordan did not and could not fight another war.

A lot of things happened since then. Three gulf wars, a Lebanese civil war, Iran became a different country, several peace treaties were signed and we had a new leadership. A large influx of people immigrated to Jordan but again, Jordan survived.
That made me wonder how will our country look like in the next three decades?

The last war in Iraq might have been more than what we could handle. It was different from the previous ones. The whole country of Iraq was destroyed, and to make things worse there was a significant racial divide that spread to other countries in the region. Currently 15% of Jordan's population consists of Iraqis who are not going anywhere anytime soon. If a democrat wins the US elections there's a near-100% chance the US troops will start withdrawing from Iraq soon afterwards and will never come back to the region for whatever reason. Syria's current president did not inherit any iron fist from his father and there's an increasing dissatisfaction with the dominance of Alawiyyin in the country, in addition to the internal conflicts within al-Assad family. Lebanon: worse, they can't figure a way to select or elect a president. Husni Mubarak has never been that unpopular in Egypt.

Jordan has never been a rich country; however the level of poverty of plenty of families combined with the obscene level of apparently undeserved wealth of another group of Jordanians seemed to have miserably affected the middle class. Add to that the awful situation Palestinians are growing through in the West Bank and Gaza, and the terrible injustice they're subject to both by their own people and by Israel amidst Arab silence, you can tell there are a lot of angry people in Jordan.

All of these facts cross my mind when I think of the events that shaped, if not created, my country. The question of how we will look like in 30 years stays in mind and I have no answer to it. I don't know if anyone living in the late 70's could have thought the region would look like that by now. Everything was sudden, unpredictable and insane and there's every reason to believe the future of the region will be so.


Anonymous said...

As a Jordanian from the north i refuse your introduction as it mixes very basic identity description for me as a Jordanian and how i belong to this land i come from. the different arabic regimes attacks or threats (as you liked to state) were against the ruling System ,for the obvious reasons that resulted in those attacks, on the other hand the Israeli war and occupation on the whole region is against our ethnicity/race and ownership and belonging to the land and any way to make the both sound like equal is the real threat against our nation existence.

What you are talking about is the future of the monarchy and the regime ruling this land. Other than that, My grandfathers long lived in Irbid and had much more history all over decades and face the variety of those who ruled up from the romans to el 3'asaseneh o el manatherah to the islamic era and then the othmans and then the current monarchy. with the collection of occupations that came along with some of it.

this has nothing to do with us, the land original and current inhabitants, with the history, language and mentality. what will happen next, is what we want to be and make. its our future and present and we are the strongest link in the chain to deiced what we want and shape what we deserve.

yasaminatdimashq said...

Alla yostorha ma3na, btw dear, in syria we finally could reach to a point where we are so much satesfied about the "Alwiyeen", it is never the same as before anymore!

Anonymous said...

happy Easter chief hareega!

Azzam said...

I agree with Anon. You have described the history of the Saudi-originated Jordanian monarchy. I have always rejected the notion that somehow the Arab countries and their dictators are inseparable entities. if any, the Arabs have paid dearly for the mistakes of their leaders, Jordan being a prime example and now Palestine. Jordan is an artificial entity inasmuch as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine are. A best case scenario is that 30 years from now there will be democracies in all those countries, and for their elected parliament and governments to take the first step into a union not unlike the EU and GCC. So much unites the people of Sham. So much gets in the way of their progress if they remain in a state of disunity.

Worst case scenario, in 30 years we will wake up to a Jordan not unlike Ecuador or Burma, poverty, corruption, packs of homeless children roaming the streets, government death squads and radical militant groups battling it out in the street. If the economy continues its downwards spiral and if the educational system continues its decline and if corruption is unchecked, that's a likely scenario.

za3tar said...

"If a democrat wins the US elections there's a near-100% chance the US troops will start withdrawing from Iraq soon afterwards and will never come back to the region for whatever reason."

Wow, that is awfully optimistic!! So you are saying that the USA will leave the Middle East if a democrat was elected ? Well, i guess you meant Iraq not "the region" :-).

Anyway, regarding Jordan. I think it is evident that Jordan is trying hard to establish itself as a stable country with an active economy. If this trend continues, i think we'll see more westernization projects just as those in Dubai (such as the new Abdali project, and others).

It seems that there is a huge flux of investments in Jordan from the gulf countries. I think this is just the beginning of the stream. With many gulf companies trying to diversify their investments and enter new markets, i believe many more investments, and much more money, will be entering Jordan in the upcoming decades.

This increased investment could potentially lift up the Jordanian economy to an even better level. It will thus be a hub for a good consuming market, good work force with relatively cheap labor compared with the gulf. So, this could also encourage even more foreign companies to invest in Jordan, and also hopefully many more local startups to sprouts.

This is my outlook on the upside. On the downside however, this incoming money will likely widen the gap between the rich and poor. Middle class will get ever so thin, other cities will be worlds behind compared to Amman.

Also on the downside, the widening gap between rich and poor will also increase the current show-off mentality of western Ammanintes. People could start speaking only English in the streets, and completely lose touch with who they are and with reality.

So that's my outlook, more money, more investment, more companies. Growing rich-poor divide, and growing "fakeness" for some.

Hani Obaid said...

You should write about this subject more often.

It's no coincidence that USA turned into a tyrant shortly after the cold war ended. Who's gonna stop them, right ?

You give the democrats too much credit. Simply not being a republican tyrant doesn't make anyone a saint.

Nearly everyone I know at work (several dozens young intelligent men) would do anything to be able to leave. Taxes, the ever-rising oil prices and the instant inflation we've never seen before. The looming regional instability which hasn't hit Jordan, yet.

Surely we can recognize a pattern when we see one. I think the downward spiral will continue. I'd advise anyone who'd listen against having kids.

Hareega said...

anonymous... I did not question your identity or belonging or that of any Jordanian, nor did I say that Israel have not caused a serious threat to Jordan or the region. But Jordan did face a lot of threats. You're assuming that the attacks against the ruling system are not threats against the country itself and that is not always true. A lot of such attacks did target the country and those linked to them were connected to intelligence services in other countries.
I understand Jordan has never been a separate entity and it has always been part of another civilization or kingdom, but I believe (or like to believe) that most Jordanians prefer the country with its borders to be the way it is; political changes are something different.

Yasmine, I don't know if you're being ironic or serious.

Azzam, I don't know why you're assuming that those other Arab countries will have prosperous futures but Jordan will become so miserable. I'm not optimisitc at all about the future but I don't we'll be worse than the rest of the region. Jordan was not an obstacle to some sort of Arab unity or communication and it's actually in our advantage to be part of such thing.

Hareega said...

za3tar, I just said democrats will withdraw from Iraq for the sake of their people at least. I didn't say they cae more about the region.

I think that Jordan is a bit different than Dubai. There is still a possibility that Iraq will become more stable one way or another in the next few years, and all the money influxed to the region might go somewhere else. Dubai became an empire in a relaitvely short period of time but it was something planned for and it still has a plan for the future. the influx of money to Jordan was unpredictable and the way things will go are very largely dependant on what's going to happen in Iraq and in Dubai or other countries that is not the same case.

Hani Obaid, As I told za3atr I just think democrats are leaving Iraq for the sake of the American economy and their own people, and that can change a lot of things in the region.
and I'm not having kids anytime soon!

Maha said...

Nicely written, those who left the country 30 years ago cannot comprehend what it is right now.

Batir said...

To anon: had the countless threats from Egypt, Iraq, Syria against the Monarchy succeeded, you and your fanily would have lived under the fantastic regime of the Ba'ath or any other military dictatorship.
It is really offending to the history of Jordan that our main enemy Israel was called upon for help on two occasions:
In 1958 after the bloody coup in Iraq and the murder of the Hashemites, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia had a complete air emnargo over Jordan to topple the regime. Only the agreement between King Hussein and the British to use Israel air to send oil and food to Jordan saved the country and the regime from falling to Syrian rule.
In 1970 about 300 syrian tanks entered Jordan in Irbid to occupy the Northern area that was declared free by the PLO. The King had to ask Israel to stay calm and not invade Jordan when he ordered the army to move from the Israeli line to Syria and kick the asses of the invaders.
It is ironic, bad but still a fact that conspiracies against this country were mainly from our neighbores. If our neighbor was Denmark I may not be angry but I will not tolerate living under an Asad or Saddam style regime.

Hani Obaid said...

I had seen a documentary that says it was that the Israeli airforce made the syrian tanks turn back. At least that's what the Israelis say.

مياسي said...

In coming 30 years?? I see lands of Jordan sold for Lebaneses and Gulf ppl while Jordanians are paying more increasing taxes

I see more and more young guys dreaming of immigration, to where?? to no where "el muhem nehej men el balad"

Allah Yustorha Ma3na Really

Solomon2 said...

If external threats remain absent, then internal developments will primarily determine how Jordan looks in thirty years, I guess. To answer that, I'd ask: what are Jordan's children like today? Are they being taught marketable skills and the importance of living in peace tempered by the will to challenge convention? Or are they being brought up to be blind instruments of revenge, like "The Arabs of Palestine" of the 1960s? Or is something else entirely being drilled into their skulls?