Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Response to the Economist's "King's Sad Men" By Yezan M Haddadin. New York, NY

Your reporting on Jordan cries out for criticism for its factual inaccuracy and the quality of its argument (“The king’s sad men” May 5th, 2012).  

Your article contains fundamental errors in its reporting on events in Jordan.  First, you report that the draft of the new election law limits single parties in the 138-member parliament to only five MPs when in fact such limitation applies only to representation in a 15-member proportionally‑assigned “national list”: single party candidates are free to contest, and gain control of, the remaining 123 seats.  Second, the new Prime Minister, Dr. Fayez Tarawneh, is not the King’s royal court chief as you report and has not served in such capacity for over a decade.  Third, far from being “paralyzed” by strikes, the phosphate and potash mines companies just reported robust growth in first quarter earnings (78% and 11%, respectively).  Finally, your framing of the country’s political narrative in terms of “Bedouin” vs. “Islamist” betrays a complete lack of understanding of Jordan’s unique social fabric (which includes Muslims and Christians, East Bank Jordanians as well as Palestinians, Circassians, Chechens, Armenians, Druze and Bahais) underlying its politics.  

Failure to check basic facts calls into question your analysis of the country’s recent political developments.  A number of important recent reforms (constitutional amendments that bestow greater powers on the legislative and judicial branches) are not even mentioned in your piece.  And changes in Prime Ministers are quite common in Jordan and pre-date the Arab Spring.  Strategically located in a turbulent region, the change in governments is sometimes determined by regional developments.  In a span of 14 months between 1956 and 1957, on the eve of a revolutionary explosion that swept the region, Jordan experienced no fewer than seven Prime Minister changes—and survived intact to witness an economic and social transformation unmatched by any Arab country.  Far from being a “careless” handling of the country’s affairs, as the Economist suggests, flexibility in changing governments is one element that has enabled Jordan to navigate a volatile region and preserve the country's peace and stability.  

Yezan M Haddadin, Esq. New York, NY

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