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The new wave of protests

Jun 05,2018 - Last updated at Jun 05,2018

Protesting against International Monetary Fund-backed austerity measures and the new proposed income tax, Jordanians took to the street in cities across Jordan. Negotiations between the government and the unions have reached a dead-end. Indeed, the economic team in the government has failed to convince the public with the new measures, particularly when the approval rate of the government is less than 30 per cent, the lowest in the history of Jordan. 

Enough is enough, many demonstrators said the other night. The Economic Intelligence Unit ranked Amman as one of the most expensive cities in the Arab world. This year witnessed price rises on bread and basic goods. The new income tax bill, if passed, will weaken Jordanians’ ability to meet their daily basic needs. Interestingly, the prime minister has failed to open the law for public debate. For this reason, stakeholders have made the argument that the government cannot just impose a law like this without consulting with them.

By far, His Majesty King Abdullah is more sensible to the needs of his people and the proper way for enacting a law. He called on Parliament to lead a “comprehensive and reasonable national dialogue” on the new tax law. “It would not be fair that the citizen alone bears the burden of financial reforms,” he told officials on Saturday evening. For this reason, it seems that the best way to calm the storm is by withdrawing the new proposed Income Tax Law.

A new government is needed to embark on consultation with stakeholders on a new law. In other words, no government should impose a law like this depending on a spineless Parliament. 

The government’s top priority should be how to get out of the bottleneck of the economic crisis. Over the last decade, Jordan's economy has deteriorated. The governments’ mismanagement of the economy in addition to the intake of over a million Syrian refugees and the lack of foreign aid have a toll on the Jordanian economy. 

Talking to some protesters at the Fourth Circle, they told me that the government cannot continue with the International Monetary Fund-backed policies that have impoverished Jordanians. Explicit in their demands is a need to withdraw the income tax. They insisted that corruption is a key reason for the current problem. But, the protests reveal a deeper problem. Jordanians, on the whole, do not trust whatever the government says. In many of letters of designation that the King sent the governments, he stressed the need to restore public trust. This seems a difficult goal to achieve.

To be sure, the problem will not be solved by getting rid of this government. Jordan needs a paradigm shift. The economic approach adopted by successive governments has failed big time. The levels of poverty and unemployment reached an alarming point. By insisting on imposing new tax on people will hardly solve the twin problems of unemployment and poverty. In a nutshell, Jordan needs to think thoroughly of the changing regional environment. We have fewer friends and, therefore, we need to look inwards and this entails political reform in addition to economic reform.

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ONCE IN A WHILE, I WILL AGREE WITH JACK IN A GEOPOLITICAL DEBATE. YES AND NOT ONLY JORDAN BUT THE ENTIRE ARAB WORLD SHOULD HAVE DIPLOMATIC RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL AND FORM MIDDLE EAST COMMON MARKET. ISRAEL SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IN THE EUROPEAN GROUPING OF THE FIFA WORLD CUP TOURNAMENTS BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO THE MIDDLE EAST. I CAN NOT FORGET WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE LATE KING HUSSEIN MADE PEACE WITH ISRAEL. GOODS AND SERVICES STARTED TO FLOW ACROSS THE BOARDERS, DIRECT FLY OVER THROUGH ISRAEL FOR AMMAN BOUND INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS SO IT WILL BE A GOOD THING IF WE CAN ALL BE HONEST AND FAIR TO ENGAGE IN TRADE AND COMMERCE BETWEEN THE TWO NATIONS WHICH CAN ONLY HAPPEN IF THERE IS A JUST AND COMPREHENSIVE PEACE IN THE REGION. WHILE I AGREE WITH MY FRIEND JACK IN THEORY, HE SHOULD ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE. JORDAN ALEADY IMPORT GAS FROM ISRAEL AND SHARE IDEAS IN VERY MANY AREAS TO MENTION BUT ONE. HOWEVER, JORDAN HAS RECEIVED NOTHING IN RETURN AND JORDANIANS ARE NOT HAPPY SEING THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA OR THE CUT BACK IN AIDS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. TO TRADE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE PEACE AND SECURITY. I DISAGREE THAT JORDAN HAS NOT TRIED OR INVESTED IN TRADE AND COMMERCE BECAUSE ALL THAT THEY HAVE INVESTED HAS DRIED UP BECAUSE OF WARS THAT ARE EITHER UNNECESSARY OR BASED ON FALSE COVER TO DIVID AND RULE. HERE IS SOME HISTORY FOR MY FRIEND. BEFORE THE DESTRUCTION OF IRAQ, JORDAN WAS PAYING LESS THAN TWO DOLLARS A GALLON OF PETROL BUT TODAY THEY ARE PAYING AS MUCH AS SIX DOLLARS A GALLON SO WHAT DID JORDAN GAIN FROM BEING NEUTRAL OR EVEN BEING A PARTY TO THE IRAQ DEBAKO. NOW IN SYRIA, JORDAN WAS BEEN SUCKED INTO BEING ON THE SIDE OF ITS FRIENDS AND ALLIES AND WHAT DID THEY GET FROM IT OTHER THAN REFUGEES AND ECONOMIC DISSASTER BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING HUMAN AND CONSIDERATE. ONE WILL THINK THAT THE WEST AND THEIR ALLIES WILL PAY THE BILLS THAT JORDAN IS SPENDING TO CARE FOR HUMAN CATASTROPHY THAT THEY DID NOT CREATE. THE SITUATION IN JORDAN TODAY WAS CAUSED BY REGIONAL INSTABILITY, MULTIPLE WAR FRONTS TO THE POINT THAT MOST FORMS OF TRADE AND COMMERCE IN JORDAN HAS COME TO A HALT. EVEN AS I WRITE THIS ARTICLE NOW, MOST COUNTRIES IN THAT REGION ARE ALREADY WARMING UP FOR YET ANOTHER FRONT BETWEEN A GROUP OF COUNTRIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND IRAN. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT WILL HAPPEN IF ANOTHER WAR BREAKS OUT BETWEEN IRAN AND ANY COUNTRY IN THAT REGION. WHAT HAPPENED AND WHERE IS THE PEACE TALK BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINE? IS IT UNFAIR TO SAY THAT IT IS BIZZAR THAT THIS STATUS QUO HAS CONTINUED FOR OVER 50 YEARS WHILE THE SO-CALLED INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TURNS A BLIND EYES ONLY TO TALK ABOUT ASSAD KILLING OF HIS PEOPLE. IN A NUT SHELL, THE COMMON DENOMINATOR TO THE DEMON CAUSING THESE HAVOCKS IN THAT REGION IS PALESTINIAN ISSUE WHERE THE PROBABILITY OF ANY MEANINGDUL PEACE PROCESS IN THE NEAR FUTURE IS ZERO. NOT UNTIL WE CAN PLAY JIMMY CARTER, THE LATE PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL AND PRESIDENT OF EGYPT THE ECONOMIC DESTRUCTIONS AND MEHAM WILL CONTINUE. SO MY FRIENDS, IT IS NOT THE JORDANIAN FAULT BUT THE PROXIMATE CAUSES OF THEIR SITUATION. THEY ARE IN A TOUGH SITUATION BECAUSE THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES ARE THE VICTIMS WHILE THE COMMON DENOMINATOR CAN ALSO BE TRACED BACK TO THEIR GOOD FRIENDS AND ALLIES THAT THEY TRUSTED WITH OUT CONDITIONS. THE JORDANIAN DEBT IS ONLY THE COST OF FEW WAR JETS, BIG BOMBS AND OTHER TOYS THAT DOES NOTHING BUT KILL PEOPLE AND CREATE CHAOS. I WILL LOVE TO GET A RESPONSE FROM MY GOOD FRIEND JACK.

When will Jordan get ahead of the curve, think out of the box or whatever and start having serious economic ties such as factories and shared infrastructure projects with Israel? Is there a more obvious solution?

MR BARARI IS NOT ONLY CORRECT BUT REMINDS ALL THE PARTIES THAT IT IS NOT ONLY IF THE ECONOMY IS STUPID BUT ALSO
GEO-POLITICAL MISCALCULATIONS. THE REGION HAS BECOME MORE COMPLICATED, POLITICALLY FRAGMENTED, TRIBALLY POLARIZED AND SHIFTING FRIENDSHIP AND UNITY. THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT JORDAN HAS LESS HONEST AND GOOD TODAY THAN IN THE PAST NEVER MIND FOREIGN AIDS. GIVEN THE TREND WE ALL SEE TODAY, THE MASSAGE HAS BEEN SENT OUT TO THE GOVERNMENT THAT AT SOME POINT IN THE NEAR FUTURE, JORDAN CAN NO LONGER COUNT ON FOREIGN AIDS.

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