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Debate to question effect of Arab Spring on Jordan

By Hani Hazaimeh - Dec 09,2012 - Last updated at Dec 09,2012

AMMAN — “Is Jordan the next target for the Arab Spring?” is the theme of a debate on Monday, in which different views will be presented, Tim Sebastian, chairman and founder of The New Arab Debates, said at a press conference on Sunday.

“We are not politicians and we are not here to make any judgements,” Sebastian, who will moderate the debate, told reporters, noting that the goal of the discussion is to invite speakers with different views to discuss the effect of regional developments and internal issues on the Kingdom.

“The session will discuss the motion: ‘This House believes Jordan is on the brink of serious political turmoil and unrest.’ We hope we can come up with answers to many questions that hover in the minds of the people,” he said.

Sebastian stressed, however, that no country that has witnessed the Arab Spring can be compared to another as each has different circumstances and different political structures.

Sebastian will be joined by Egyptian TV presenter Mai Sherbiny, who will moderate a debate in Arabic on the same topic on Tuesday. Under the format, the moderator will question two panellists — one supporting the motion and the other opposing it — before inviting the audience to quiz the speakers and decide the issue by electronic vote.

In the English debate, former foreign minister Salaheddin Bashir will oppose the motion, while former minister of state for legal affairs Ibrahim Jazi will argue in favour of it.

Meanwhile, in the Arabic debate, Minister of Political Development and Parliamentary Affairs Bassam Hadaddin will argue against the motion, while former deputy and head of the Islamic Action Front’s shura council Ali Abul Sukkar will argue for it. The New Arab Debates is a platform to “foster democratic accountability and free speech among young Arabs” after the popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, according to organisers.

The project, now in its second year, is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Arab Partnership Participation Fund at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The series will be aired on Deutche Welle TV in both Arabic and English and on the Public Broadcasting Service in the US, reaching an audience of over 100 million, according to the organisers.

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