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The fallacy of deep state

Sep 10,2018 - Last updated at Sep 10,2018

The notion of a “deep state” is hardly a new one. During the Arab Spring, for instance, many argued that the deep state was behind the lack of reform. Even in the most progressive country in the world, the United States, some observers pointed out to the fall of constitution and the rise of a shadow government.

In Jordan, some use the notion of deep state to account for what they see as lack of reform. It is as if the “deep state” is a monster that intimidates the activists and helps curb the tendency to effect political reform.

The term “deep state” is understood as a reference to Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID).  This reference might carry an underestimation of the GID’s pivotal role in maintaining the stability of the country and the security of its people. However, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the requirements of reform and the deep state’s key role in creating the proper environment for it.

I was among the few writers who met His Majesty King Abdullah three weeks ago. He made it perfectly clear that were it not for the meticulous efforts and sacrifices of the GID, stability in Jordan would have been compromised. He referred to the Al Salt attack and the heroic role played by the security agency and the army.

In April, I met senior officials at the European Union in Brussels. Officials in charge of the terrorism file briefed us on the GID’s remarkable role in foiling terrorist acts outside Jordan. They said that the Jordanian secret service helped foil some 40 terrorist attempts in the region and worldwide. I think that an agency with this professionalism should be praised rather than undermined.

The argument that the “deep state” hampers reform is a deceptive one.

Perhaps, the “deep state” has its own opinion about the way reform should be followed, but there is no national consensus among Jordanians on what constitutes reform.

Even in the ranks of the self-designated reformist and liberal camps there are disagreements on the reform process.

I know liberals in Jordan who approached the GID urging it to rig elections to help them win seats in Parliament. This did not work though.

These people’s failure was later on blamed on the state agencies, including the GID.

Interestingly, all liberals who assumed senior positions were never elected! Their power base is weak, to say the least. Therefore, their demand for genuine reform contradicts their professional history.

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