Nasser bin Nasser, Global Comment
The writer is founder and CEO of Ambit Advisory.
Arab countries have long accused the West of a double standard when it comes to them. They cry foul every time the rules-based order has been violated.
Ambitious development plans such as Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 have been the subject of regular media attention, especially regarding the massive financial resources earmarked to realize them or the transformative economic impact they could have on their countries.
Like many lower-middle-income countries, Jordan embraced the ideals of free market capitalism that characterized the globalization era of the 1990s and first decade of the 2000s. Jordan was the first Arab country to conclude free trade agreements with the US in 2001 and third with the EU in 2002. During that same period, it privatized a number of its industries, such as those in the telecom, mining and industrial sectors. Foreign direct investment grew from 0.2 percent of GDP in 1996 to a record 23.5 percent of GDP in 2006. That peak in foreign investment coincided with the global financial crisis of 2007, which may have also marked peak globalization, after which it fell into retreat because of its destabilizing impact on national politics, interests and sovereignty.
The ambitious development plans of some GCC countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar, will undoubtedly have a transformative impact on the region. One needs to consider that Saudi Arabia alone expects to spend over $3 trillion to realize Saudi Vision 2030 to appreciate the significance of this.
His Majesty King Abdullah II visited the White House last week for an impromptu meeting with President Biden. The meeting was followed by a regional tour conducted by Secretary Blinken where he met Egyptian, Palestinian and Israeli leaders. Both visits appeared to share the same objective; reduce tensions between Palestinians and Israelis amid an unprecedented spike in violence. This isn’t the first time that leaders meet to reduce tensions during outbreaks of hostilities between Palestinians and Israelis, but they come at a time that is anything but usual, especially given developments in Israel’s domestic politics and the trajectory of the country’s politics.
One of the greatest yet most underappreciated feats of Jordanian diplomacy in recent years was the tripartite agreement of July 2017 signed between Jordan, Russia, and the US to implement a ceasefire across southern Syria and create a de-escalation zone.
Jordan and Palestine are bracing themselves for Israel’s fifth election in just over three years, slated for November 1. Beyond Israel itself, these two countries are arguably most affected by the outcome and subsequent shifts in domestic politics. Taking primacy are Jordanian and Palestinian concerns over the future prospect of a two-state solution, given that trends show the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is no longer a key issue for the Israeli electorate (having been considerably eclipsed by other issues such as the country’s Jewish identity).
The successful completion and launch of Jordan’s Economic Modernization Vision has been an interesting experiment in public policy and strategic planning.
Jordanians were saddened and infuriated by last week’s accident at the port of Aqaba. On June 27, 13 port workers and members of Jordan’s civil defense and gendarmerie directorates died and many others were injured when a chlorine container bound for export fell and ruptured as it was being loaded onto a ship. It was yet another accident in a series of unfortunate and avoidable ones in recent years.