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The identity of the chairperson is irrelevant

Maher Abu Tair
Maher Abu Tair (Photo: Jordan News)
Two days ago, there was a leak about a reform committee to be announced soon, comprising between 70 and 80 figures and chaired by former prime minister Taher Al-Masri, who, by the way, presided over a national dialogue committee in 2011, at the peak of the Arab Spring.اضافة اعلان

I asked Masri if that was accurate and he said that he was supposed to be the first to be informed of assigning him the chairmanship of the panel, which would be mandated of examine the best scenarios for political reform in Jordan at various levels, but he had no idea, at least not until this article was published. This means that he might be or might not be the head of the committee.

Meanwhile, Senate President Faisal Al-Fayez has been engaged in open discussions with all political, media and social sectors in Jordan, extending over the past weeks. He is expected to draft a report and present it to His Majesty the King, summing up the outcomes of these dialogues. The discussions held by the Senate president might have upset the government, which was watching the ongoing dialogue from afar, knowing it could lead to legislative and changes to serve political reform purposes. It is a remarkable thing indeed when the government is excluded from this mandate and it only hears about it, like everybody else, from the media or people who took part in the conversations, knowing that they could not have taken place without the green light from the Royal Court, even if they, as some believe, started as a personal initiative by Fayez.

We have learnt that the King met four former prime ministers on Wednesday, May 26. The 75-minute meeting, held at the King’s office in Al-Husseiniya Palace, was attended by Taher Al-Masri, Samir Al-Rifai, Abdur-Rau’f Al-Rawabdeh and Hani Al-Mulki. They discussed several files, including political reform and various domestic issues, all focused on the envisioned reforms. His Majesty listened to the attendees and what they had to say about these files.

Amid these interlacing developments, the parliamentary session has been prorogued, as of next Thursday. Analysts speak about a series of moves being taken locally, with some people going as far as assuming potential changes to the Cabinet, let alone the reform committee issue, among others. Let us not forget that the past six months have been tough on Jordan at all levels, which dictates a re-engineering of the internal status quo, especially since remaining silent over what is happening will be a costly misjudgment that will affect several files.

If the reform committee was announced, as the leak suggests, and someone was assigned of chairing it, the issue would actually be about the motives behind the formation of the panel, at a time when we have an immense heritage of similar plans, including the old National Charter, National Agenda, National Dialogue Committee and hundreds of rounds of dialogue involving the government, Parliament and political parties. Why do we need to foretell a future that we already know?

Reform needs a decision, not a committee. That what we should say today, candidly and directly, so that we do not step into the battle over the honor of membership in the panel: who is on board and who is not. After that, we will be trying to buy time again to be ready with the right messages sent locally and internationally. We can spare ourselves all this hassle, just by having the will to carry out political reforms and the courage to do that and to overcome concerns and fears regarding its cost.

It should be underlined, too, that the public’s reaction to set up a committee will not be encouraging. Jordanians have known situations like this and every time there were no results translated into facts on the ground. There will also be talk about the members of the committee: What do they represent? Will they play a role in positive change? Or will they just be watching a repeated scene without actual yields? This leads us again to remind ourselves of the fact that the situation in Jordan is too sensitive and in need of a different kind of therapy, away from the conventional approach, where it is assumed that we have enough time to engage in empty discussions and trade suggestions for solutions and remedies. We will all fall into the same time-buying game and crisis-deferment. 

Supposing the leak was true, the identity of the committee’s chairperson is irrelevant. What is more important is the nature of the people who will be members, whether their recommendations would be heeded, or just buried in the same graveyard of those of previous similar committees. 

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