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Leaving it to the wheel of fortune

Dec 03,2018 - Last updated at Dec 03,2018

Challenges facing Prime Minister Omar Razzaz abound. Obviously, he is an ambitious man bent on reforming the economy. His idea that the society should move to a productive one is the key for proper and lasting reform. 

In fact, he is not the one who came up with this idea. Attempts to end the rentier relationship between Jordanians and the state started as early as the beginning of the new millennium. Over the course of two decades, the lives of the successive governments have become a rollercoaster filled with ups and downs as they tried to lead the country toward that end.

Let us cut to the chase and say that the country has been hard-pressed, financially. Massive cash infusions from the Arab Gulf have ceased. Worse, the country had to host hundreds of thousands of refugees, thus adding too much pressure on depleting infrastructure and services. Besides, the turbulence in the region has made it hard for Jordan to maintain trade ties with traditional markets. On the other hand, successive governments have mismanaged the economy and failed to regain the trust of Jordanians.

Currently, there is no knowing how this whole situation will play out. Perhaps, we just have to leave it up to the wheel of fortune. A former prime minister gave a lecture a week ago in which he argued that Jordan is on the ledge! If you talk to laymen in the street, they are most likely going to say that the future is bleak. The tendency to see the half-empty of the glass is confusing.

All of that lead to one point: Omar Razzaz has been working in an atmosphere that is filled with depression. It is here, where a prime minister should live up to his responsibility and act as a leader. After managing to pass through Parliment the contentious income tax draft law, the prime minister needs to understand that people are not happy. His number-one priority now is to regain the lost trust in the government, a goal that is of paramount importance for the stability of the country in years to come.

When I try to decode Jordanian politics, I cannot but say that successive prime ministers sought one thing: survival. While this is legitimate, Jordan needs someone who has a vision and the ability to implement it. 

Critics of Omar Razzaz say that the man also seeks popularity. His lip service to key issues and his tendency to take selfie photos, though important, are not going to do him good. And PR efforts, if not associated with tangible achievements, are most likely to backfire.

Two factors may work against Omar Razzaz. First, the grace period given by people is over. The most recent protests should ring the bell that if Jordanians take to the street for an extended period of time, the government cannot survive. 

Second, there is an impression among Jordanians that Razzaz’ choices of ministers are below the bar. It is not too late to rectify that, as a Cabinet reshuffle is expected soon. Bluntly put, he still can make a difference. I will be extremely worried if Omar Razzaz reaches a point where he gives up and leaves it up to the wheel of fortune.

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