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Deep state can only be countered through credible democracy

Sep 08,2018 - Last updated at Sep 08,2018

Most recently, Jordanians have been referring to what they call “deep state” or “al dawla al ameeqa” to refer to “shadow” forces that scuttle or hinder reform and political progress in the country. At its most superficial, some of those using the term are pointing to what they believe is a pre-designed policy by senior intelligence officers.  Those in the know, or students of this type of political analysis, understand that this is not necessarily completely accurate and that a so-called “deep state” is borne of a network of players and influencers from multiple sectors, not necessarily at the decision-making level, but who come together to protect their interests. 

In a recent article on the “Deep States in MENA” published by the US-based Middle East policy council, Robert Springborg, a retired professor of national security affairs, argues that so-called deep states can only exist where citizens are unable to freely organise politically, cannot change their governments through elections and are powerless to subordinate militaries and intelligence services to their institutionalised control. 

Springborg’s article reviews the origins of the term and traces its evolution and evidence within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, while at the same time assessing if the recent attempt in the US to co-locate the term in US politics and tie it to attempts to subvert US President Donald Trump’s policies is valid.

His conclusion on the US is that the link is at best tenuous and the conditions as outlined in his review of manifestations of the deep state are not replicated in the US, where citizens are in fact able to freely organise politically, change their government through elections and also subordinate militaries and intelligence services to the control of the people and their democratic institutions.

But where the article is truly fascinating is in its review of structures, influences, formations and impact of the deep state in our region to show what he says is evidence that "real" politics that determine who gets what, when and how is essentially the preserve of deep states, leaving others with only "pseudopolitics".

I had gone in search for a body of work in the deep state and its indicators because I found recently that the term is being repeatedly used by political analysts in Jordan to explain the inability of successive governments to create any tangible change that can impact the lives and welfare of ordinary citizens. Analysts most often use the term in conversations aided by a knowing look, sideway glance and a sign of resignation implying that we all know who are the architects of the deep state in Jordan and why they are doing it, but we do not have the tools to counter it. 

And when I read in the first few paragraphs of the article that the deep state is effectively a network of influencers, who hatch “secretive conspiracies” in the corridors of power, shadow the country’s politics and undermine democratic process, I admit I also felt that I had hit a jackpot of sorts. 

Although the article does not study Jordan closely enough for us to draw out firm conclusions, it does mark us as the only monarchy that more closely mimics republican states (he believes Israel and most monarchies in MENA do not suffer from deep states) and therefore is afflicted with deep state symptoms. We may have to pause to consider the detailed analysis of the different forms of the deep state that the author of the article posits in order to more closely identify where we are and what “type” of deep state we have, but there is no doubt that we certainly are a good candidate for a case study at minimum. 

Which brings me to the point I need to make. If we are serious about reform, a new social contract, good governance or whatever term we are using now to describe our intended transformative action, then the government must immediately study the manifestations and tactics of the deep state in Jordan, unpack its shadow activity, locate its beneficiaries and then draw out a plan to counter, or at minimum, contain the deep state’s influence in order to liberate a system of governance that promotes the common citizen as the primary beneficiary of the state’s economic and political activity. 

The deep state, by any definition I have read in preparing for this article, is a blocker of any serious effort for reform and for it to be derailed, it has to be studied closer, understood more fully and targeted with more serious cohesive planning for action. That action cannot be haphazard or piecemeal, and to succeed must be adopted by a parallel and organised network, drawing in supporters and influencers from multiple sectors, that is equally obsessed and vigilant about pushing its agenda and protecting its beneficiaries. 

The goal of this effort, and in fact the ultimate beneficiaries of this counter effort, will be without doubt the longevity and steadfastness of the state, the cohesiveness of the nation and the welfare of all citizens equally.

And, in my opinion, herein comes the need for political reform.

If the main objective of this network of detractors is to thwart citizens’ efforts to organise themselves politically and to deny them the opportunity to change their government through election and by deduction build a functioning and credible parliament and political parties feeding into those parliaments, doesn’t it make immediate sense that political reform to maximise citizens’ ability to institutionalise and organise democratic behaviour should be our primary objective? 

I assume in this analysis that the government, and especially the government of Premier Omar Razzaz, at its most senior level is not part of the deep state network. I believe that Jordan falls more within a model of deep state, if I am to follow the deductions of experts on the phenomena, that does not fully nest at the decision-making level or most senior positions, but at the lower layers of the government, military and intelligence, supported by outreach networks into the economic and financial circles that stand to benefit most from paralysing the will of the people.  

It is based on this analysis that I believe, therefore, that senior government decision makers, authorities, the institutions of parliament, political parties and civil society, and with them the ordinary Jordanian people stand to benefit most from countering a deep state in Jordan.

This is a long-term project by all means and Jordanians are not expecting overnight miraculous results but what many are looking to see is evidence of a political will to start the process. Many have hope, and there are many who even have faith, that the government of today will have the courage to seize the reins of change and allow them to be the force behind “real politics”.

 

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HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!!. THE MAIN PROBLEM IS THAT THE DREAM OF DEMOCRACY IN THE ARAB WORLD HAS BEEN DEAD AND BURIED. TALKING ABOUT DEMOCRACY, MERITOCRACY IN A SYSTEM WHERE THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY PROCESS OF DOING THINGS IS IMPOSSIBLE AND WILL NEVER BE UNTIL THE ARAB WORLD WEAN ITS ADDICTIONS FROM THEIR CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS FROM THE WESTERN CAPITALS SO THE NEW PRIME MINISTER CAN NOT PERFORM MIRACLE IN JORDAN.
FIRST, IT IS NOT IN HIS HANDS TO CRAFT ANY POLICY NOR THE COUNTRY AT LARGE BECAUSE OF THE CURRENT GEO-POLITICAL EQUATIONS. FOR NOW, THE REGION JUST NEED TO SURVIVE AND HOPE THAT THE NEXT GENERATION CAN DO BETTER. HIS MAJESTY HAS BEEN WORKING OVER TIME AT HOME AND ALL OVER THE WORLD LOOKING FOR ANSWERS FROM ANY ONE WHO CAN LISTEN THAT PEACE IS THE COMMON DENOMINATOR OF DEMOCRACY, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND STABILITY BUT THERE ARE LOTS OF HEAD-WIND. THE WORLD IS IN CHAOS FROM THE DEEP STATES IN THE WEST TO THE TRIBAL POLITICS IN JORDAN AND WHEN THINGS FALL APART, THE WORLD IS NO LONGER AT EASE. NERMEEN HAS BEEN ARGUING AND WRITING ABOUT THIS TOXIC AVIAN FLU THAT IS NOW BEYOND THE BOUNDRAIS OF JORDAN AND NO ONE IS LISTINING. SOME TIMES I JUST FEEL THAT ITS JUST HER VS THE WORLD AND NO ONE IS LISTINING AND NOW IT IS TOO LATE TO JUMP START ANY SYSTEM WHEN THE SAID SYSTEM IS IN A RANDOM MOTION. THERE IS NOTHING THAT SHE HAS WRITTEN AND SOUNDED THE ALARM BELL THAT DID NOT BLOW UP IN OUR FACES AND HER PROJECTILE NOW IS VERY UNLIKELY NOT TO FOLLOW THE SAME LOCUS THAT RESULTS IN CHAOS AND MORE UNCERTAINTY. I DO NOT SEE ANY JORDANIAN RESPONDING TO HER CALL FOR SOME FORM OF ORDER. WHILE I DO NOT KNOW WHO IS " PAUL M.", JORDANIANS SHOULD BE THANKFUL TO HIM FOR AT LEAST TRYING TO OPEN A DIALAGUE BY RESPONDING TO THESE ARTICLES. HAD THE JORDANIAN ELITES BEEN PAYING ATTENTION AS HE HAS, MAY BE THE SYSTEM COULD HAVE EXITED THIS MERRY-GO-ROUND LOOP BEFORE IT GOT TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AS IT IS TODAY. WE NOW LIVE IN A WORLD WITHOUT ANY SOCIAL, POLITICAL, INTERNATIONAL AND RELIGIOUS COHESSIONS AND CONTRACTS. OUR COURT SYSTEMS ALL OVER THE WORLD INCLUDING THE SO-CALLED THE INTERNATIONAL COURT ARE IN SHAMBLES AND UNDEMOCRATIC. IN SHORT, THERE ARE NO MORE WORLD LEADERS LEFT THAT CAN FORM ANY FAIR POLICIES, LEAD BY THEM AND ABIDE BY THEM SO IN MY OPINION, THE DAYS WHEN NERMEEN'S ARTICLES COULD HAVE MADE ANY DIFFERENCE ARE GONE FOR GOOD. CALL THE JORDANIAN STRAIN OF THE FLU ABSOLUTE OR CONSTITUTIONAL LIKE IN KUWAIT, MOROCCO OR ANY OTHER COUNTRY, THE FACT IS THAT WE DO NOT HAVE ANY FORM OF COHERENT WORLD ORDER LEFT SO NIETHER JORDAN OR ANY OTHER DEVELOPING COUNTRY CAN NOT DIG THE WORLD OUT OF THE MESS WE FIND IT TODAY. MAY BE IF WE CAN SURVIVE THE CURRENT CHAOS AND ANARCHY IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, A WORLD LEADER WILL EMERGE AND PUT THE WORMS BACK IN A LOCK AND KEY.

Many nations formerly with absolute monarchies, such as Jordan, Kuwait and Morocco, have moved towards constitutional monarchy, although in some cases the monarch retains tremendous power, to the point that the parliament's influence on political life is negligible (source Wikipedia).

What does the author mean when she talks about 'democracy' within the Arab world, particularly when it come to Jordan - one man, one vote (?), the people are sovereign?

I really would like to know, until we can debate such issues freely, we're just skirting the around issue?

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