Ammon News, View Points

Teachers’ Strikes, An Opportunity To Prevent Jordan Becoming A Failed State

[10/10/2019 8:21:00 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Madeleine Mezagopian- Jordan, a country with high rate of unemployment and poverty, is witnessing ongoing strike in one of its sector, however a crucial one. The teachers of the public schools, a sector with regression in performance and outcomes, resorted to strikes for almost a month with demands and still to improve their living standard if not having their basic necessities met through 50% increase in their salaries. Determined and perseverant representatives of the syndicate of teachers exhibit no compromise to what the government is able or want to cater teachers’ demands. Hitherto, the issue has been handled in isolation of the hardships encountered by the big majority of the public sector, not least with very timid and careful approach by the government. The government whose main argument of limited resources and tight budget did not involve a transparent approach in sharing the people with the records on revenues and expenditures shouldered by the government involving all the institutions e.g. the Judiciary, the Parliament, the Royal Court and the Greater Amman Municipality, inter alia. A candid and transparent discussion based on valid facts and statistics hardly featured the interaction between the two conflicting parties. Proper and constructive dialogue between relevant actors is almost absent which is not surprising in a society where the culture of peace, compromise and tolerance is alien on all levels. A discussion which entails rights and duties, performance and outcomes on behalf of the teachers to promote merit-based compensation is almost absent. The political orientation of the professional syndicates in Jordan continue to undermine the credibility and the intentions of the syndicates’ leadership including that of the teachers’ syndicate who failed to successfully lobby for and promote the interests of its members with the parliamentarians. Given the deteriorating performance of both the staff and of the students, and the poor outcomes of the public schools. A crucial sector like the teachers of public schools with all its components and socioeconomic and political repercussions should have been tackled with comprehensive and coordinated approach by all the concerned spearheaded by the government at the very start of the so called “The Arab Spring” in 2011. An issue highlighted by this author on August 8, 2011 through an article entitled “Reforms in the Arab World: A Genuine Endeavor?” where the need to rehabilitate the public education sector at large in the Arab World including Jordan is emphasized. The deteriorating situation is not detected only in the performance of the public education sector. It equally features the performance of the government at large and foremost of the parliament who had failed in successfully tackling teachers’ demands. An issue equally underscored by this author on September 9, 2018 in an article entitled “Jordan: A failed State?” with the following conclusion: “The current developments in Jordan clearly indicate the government with its two branches, executive and legislative authorities, failed in carrying out its functions which resulted in losing the support and confidence of important segments of its people… Jordan remains in the warn category of Fragile States Index and appointing a prime minister of high credibility and integrity without dissolving the parliament and calling for new parliamentary elections most probably with new elections law and without uprooting corruption in all its forms and restructuring key institutions is a recipe for Jordan to become a failed state.” The above argument is still very much valid. In order to prevent Jordan becoming a failed state, an immediate and courageous revelation of facts and acknowledging failure by all the concerned parties is required. To be followed with the much needed legislations, policies and decisions that secure having the right person in the right place in all positions e.g. the parliament, the executive authority, the Royal Court, the professional syndicates, among others, who can deliver without any additional eligibility requirements except loyalty to Jordan and to its people. Let’s transform the teachers’ strike into an opportunity to peacefully rehabilitate all the sectors and prevent Jordan becoming a failed state.

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Arab Children and Arab Partnership and Solidarity, When?

[9/25/2019 9:43:36 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Madeleine Mezagopian - While many if not majority of Jordanians spend their time lamenting, complaining and even protesting about current domestic and regional conditions. A much overlooked entity with very low profile continues with great determination serving humanity through not only attending to the health needs of the people with disabilities (PWD). They educate and empower them in an inclusive environment to become confident productive members of the society, Al Hussein Society Jordan/Center for Training and Inclusion (AHS). Scarcity if not lack of resources and absence of skilled human capital are often echoed by ambitious, well intentioned people who cannot deliver amid all the surrounding challenges. Within these same circumstances even with further challenges, AHS not only delivers but initiates, implements and aims at creating inclusive society on all levels. It continues to provide comprehensive upgraded rehab services reaching people with disabilities of all nationalities including refugees across the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. End of 2018 and year 2019, despite still five months to end, bears yet another testament to the colossal contribution of AHS in attending to the needs of the most vulnerable segments of the Arab nation residing in Jordan. AHS bid farewell to 2018 with an international conference “Community –Based Inclusive Development (CBID) in cooperation with the international development organization Christoffel-Blindenmissionian (CBM) which aimed, inter alia, at disseminating awareness on the significance of implementing community-based rehabilitation strategies in all the sectors of the society. AHS provided quality services to more than 2691 people with disabilities, in addition to capacity building of relevant staff and enriching the already existing centers with new programs. 251 out of 310 wheel chairs, donated by Latter-Day Saints (LDS), were distributed to beneficiaries and the efforts continued towards the establishment of the AHS Regional Training Center with the support of CBM. Year 2019 was welcomed with a follow up and future cooperation motivated visit to AHS by the Ambassador of Germany, key AHS partner, to Jordan. Workshops were organized dedicated to upgrading teachers’ skills and knowledge in relevance to protecting children from abuse and music as teaching strategy, inter alia, to be followed with Stanford-Binet Test-Fifth Image training of AHS staff. In March, with the usual generosity of their very few however committed partners, AHS, together with the German Action Medeor organization, organized a training program entitled “Early Intervention and treatment approach for children with HCSB and other neurologic impairment’ which aims at capacity building of the physiotherapists and occupational therapists of the Society staff thus enhancing the status of the Society as an accredited training center for rehabilitation sciences programs. The children of the Society had also their share, however an entertaining one, through attending and interacting with an Irish musical band who performed at AHS with the support of the Irish Embassy in Jordan. In April, motivated by the need to provide its children and adults not only with their basic needs, but to feed them with the latest knowledge. In cooperation with the Rotary Club Amman-Jerash, AHS hosted one of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program with the theme “Towards Inclusive Society.” It involved many activities including workshops on artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence of the children, inclusion sport activities when Lieutenant Rula Al Amro introduced her initiative “Sport For All” which enhances inclusion through games and sports. The limit of AHS’ generosity and care is indeed the sky. The spring of 2019 was celebrated with a gift to the Jordanian society at large by AHS through organizing a free medical day of awareness, Rehabilitation Services Day entitled “Joy of Unconditional Giving,” when the staff evaluated the needs of PWD and elderly for different rehabilitation programs. Again the presence of partners was detected through exhibiting the devices sponsored by Action Medeor, while CBM International continued supporting the enhancement of AHS staff through a training program by technology expert coach Pantelis Makris. Proud parents, staff, board members, international and local private partners, hardly any representative of relevant governmental entities, with no media presence, AHS graduated its empowered children during most joyful graduation celebration with the theme “The Joy in Learning.” Last but surely not least, AHS went further from practice towards theory through initiating and eventually signing on June 21 a cooperation agreement with the Hashemite University in relevance to Vocational Diploma in Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR). Further, the joy of summer was well invested through inclusive summer camp of diverse activities. Aside of the local partners who receive services from more than deliver services to AHS e.g. the Hashemite University and the University of Jordan where 156 and 30 physiotherapy and occupational therapy students respectively received clinical training, in addition to the existing cooperation with Corporate Social Responsibility UAE and with Arcenciel in Lebanon. The sustainability of AHS is dependent on its non-Arab international partners, mentioned above, in addition to others e.g. UPP, OCHA, USAID, HELP, CLASP, Orange. In the light of the above mentioned, yes we must celebrate and welcome international cooperation and solidarity. But shouldn’t Arab solidarity and partnership prioritize such cooperation? Shouldn’t Arab children be first and foremost the concern of Arabs, individuals and organizations?

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Small businesses and Jordan economic growth.

[8/15/2019 6:46:35 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Ph.D Hussein Albanna - Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are considered as one of the most effective economic growth driver. At the global level, it is good to know, for example, that 97% of the businesses in UK are SMEs, also, it is a fact that the SMEs work as the base of innovation in USA. World wide, SMEs are the biggest jobs creator. Jordan, with 9 millions of population, may considered relatively as a "small market", which means big diffeculty in getting the benefits of mass production and economies of scale, in this case, multi-national corporations (MNCs) favor exportation to like these markets, instead of investment. In case of Jordan, there is a great opportunity for foreign direct investment (FDI), specially in sectors like tourism, banking, education, and health care services. On the other side, as domestic SMEs, we have greater opportunity in success & growth if we invest more in quality enhancement, innovation, and meeting world standards, then, exportation will be ultimately the best chance. Government should work seriously to support local ventures and entrepreneurship, via spending more on funding startup's costs (with low interest rate loans), preparing feasibility studies, medical insurance, social security coverage, and taxation exemption. By that measures government will minimize the risk of failure and the cost of establishment. Since 1989, Jordan started its economic reform program with World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Inspite of privatization, market liberalization, and taxation restructuring, Jordan still suffering from stagflation, high unemployment rate, high public debt rate, and low GDP growth. Most of the reasons of that negative situation came from neighbouring countries instability and imported crude price burden. Small businesses require low margin of finance, at the same time they create many jobs and innovations. Risk of venture failure is the major inhibitor in front of entrepreneurs, government has the major role in this risk mitigation.

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Weathering the crises

[7/23/2019 9:59:11 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Khaled Al Shogran - It is rare indeed to see any region in the world that is as geopolitically and geo-strategically important as the Middle East. This reality makes the region a centre of attraction of the international powers. In addition to its abundant oil and gas resources, the strength of the Middle East lies in its location as a place where all world’s cultures, religions and civilisations meet. The political and economic importance of the Middle East makes it a significant link between the West and the East. From ancient times till today, the great powers has vied to bring the Middle East under their sphere of influence through direct occupation with boots and fleets or through establishing permanent military bases. In fact, the great powers’ competition has made the Middle East an arena of conflicts and confrontations that serve their interests. The military mobilisation and political alliances against the supposed enemies and proxy wars have turned the region into an open arms market. However, the interests of the people of the region and their right to a decent life or development and peace are absent in these political calculations and competition. Aspects of instability resulting from the superpowers’ competition for hegemony over the Middle East has brought with it many factors that negatively affected Jordan. The most important of which is that it affected the country’s exports and imports, as well as trade and the flow of Jordanian products into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Europe. The Saudi-Qatari rift has also affected Jordan’s exports and imports. The Kingdom has also suffered from several waves of forced migration due to conflicts and wars in the region, which constitute a major pressure on the country’s economy, the provision of services, infrastructure and security. Its continuation will definitely affect the country’s demography and development plans. On the political front, Jordan has been entangled in multiple regional crises, which have diverted its diplomatic efforts. This has affected Jordan’s policymaking processes, not to mention the negative consequences and pressures resulting from the strife and attempts to mobilise and act alongside the superpowers on these issues. The Palestinian cause The creation of Israel on Palestinians lands in 1948 has been the direct cause of the Middle East’s instability and insecurity. Of course, Jordan was the first country to suffer from the consequences of the creation of Israel as it received large numbers of Palestinian refugees following each war Israel launched to occupy more territories in 1948 and in 1967. What is more destabilising in the Middle East is Israel's determination to change the realities on the ground by taking more land, establishing more illegal settlements and, more dangerously, igniting conflicts through continuing attack on Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. In this context, Jordan has never suffered economic and political pressures as the present time and all with the aim of forcing the Kingdom to abandon its historic role of internationally recognised custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. It can be said that the most dangerous aspect of the continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue without a just solution for all parties is to keep the door of instability in the Mideast open. This plays into the hands of extremist groups to recruit more followers under the pretext that the efforts of Arab and Islamic states to realise Palestinian independence have failed to bear fruit. The Arab Spring Jordan, like other Arab countries, witnessed wide protest movements that adopted all the demands of the rest of the people in the region, including reform, fighting corruption, public freedoms and improving the living conditions. But these protests did not last long nor develop into any kind of confrontation with the state. This was mainly due to the fact that authorities in Jordan dealt with these protests in a civilised way. At the same time, Jordanians feared the replications of frightening scenarios in neighbouring countries. As a result of protests engulfing the region, Jordan received more waves of refugees, whether from Iraq, Syria, Libya or Yemen, until the population of Jordan, according to the population census in 2016, reached 10 million, while it was supposed to increase naturally to 9 million by 2030. This put immense pressure on the limited resources, infrastructure, services and development plans as well as security challenges associated with refugee exodus. Moreover, Jordan has to face mounting challenges emanating from the presence of terror cells and the spread of weapons. Regional powers The competition among regional powers on the Middle East has played a key role in making the region always prone to instability. There is an ongoing struggle between Iran and Israel to dominate the region. At the time Tehran is working on spreading its influence in the region through the establishment of extremist Shiite militias in various countries and providing them with money and weapons. Israel is exploiting the gap in Arab-Iranian relations to fuel a conflict and present Tehran as a common enemy. For its part, Turkey plays an important role in the Middle East, where it tries to impose its hegemony, although it has strong diplomatic relations with both Iran and Israel. While Turkey is working by all means to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state next to it, Israel on the other hand is trying to establish an entity opposing both Ankara and Tehran. Israel on the other side seeks to be the dominant regional power in the Middle East, and is working hard to ensure that no country, including Iran, is qualified to possess the deterrent military power that makes it a rival force. Jordan, which suffered from the threat of terrorism and regional instability, has repeatedly warned of regional rivalry that takes its toll on development and stability.

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After meeting in Israel: America may adopt Bottom-up approach against Iran.

[6/27/2019 8:02:56 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Dr. Kamal Alzghoul - It seems that the US president has returned to the usual path of American foreign policy, and this was clear when he did not strike Iran after the American drone was shot down over the territorial water of Arabian Gulf .In addition, President Donald Trump said that John Bolton is one of the "hawk's Team" and listens well whenever it comes to talk about the US's national security which has no space for errors based on a hasty decisions. Two basic points suggest that the US President has returned to consult the making- decision experienced team in his cabinet ,First, he didn't respond directly to the drone's incident that happened over Arabian Gulf water , which proves that President's tweets have nothing to do with decisions being taken in the White House, because the White House knows well that a comprehensive war cannot succeed without new EU-US coalition as it happened in the war on Iraq and the during the war on Afghanistan. Second, the Russian-American-Israeli meeting, which was attended by US national security adviser John Bolton, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Israeli Security Council chief Meir Shabat, came to announce a bottom-up approach against Iran. Militarily, American advisors with Israeli Air Force may begin to clean up Iranian militias in the region, and, it became clear that Syrian theater took the first priority to engage with Iranian Militias in parallel with setting up an economic peace plan for the Arab Israeli conflict, and the second priority would be the Yemeni theater by supporting the Arab alliance forces. In order to avoid all-out war ,America gradually starts to build up an effective policy, so Russians may participate to eject Iran from Syria, and Bashar al-Assad may be replaced if he refuses to do so, but at the same time, keeping the pillars of Bashar's regime is possible to find a transitional political solution in Syria. Therefore, practical escalations between Iranians, Syrian regime and Russians may start. The rhetoric between Iran and Russia may be escalated. "America is planning a dangerous scenario for Iran" Lavrov's said (Russian secretary of state ) and this statement was a message to Iran to leave Syria. The Syrian opposition may take a long-term approach to impose a new reality on the ground. In summary, the economic sanctions combined with the US militarily engagement with Iran's in Syria, in Iraq and in Yemen, represent the new and clear US's strategy which is being demanded by Democrats as well as Republicans in the US Congress. Generally speaking for U.S, fighting Iranian branches on the ground in Syria is the step to destroy the Iranian central regime before it activates the centrifugal force in the Bushehr nuclear reactor.

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Is Iran surprised by American presence in the Arab Gulf!

[5/9/2019 6:13:10 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Dr. Kamal Alzghoul- When the United States declared that there is no intention to change the Iranian regime, it means that there are many common interests between the two countries. But whenever it comes to talk about Iranian Nuclear Plant the issue becomes about the matter of Iranian expansion in the region. Donald Trump's Administration is not ready to endure the economic costs of any war, in retrospect; Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S forces from Syria and Iraq came to cut the expenditure over U.S Army in the Middle East. Particularly, Showing off forces in the Arab Gulf by sending the American aircraft carrier “Lincoln” with its B-52 bombers is delivering two messages, one to Iran and another to North Korea. First message is to force Iran to stop uranium enrichment and to stop producing centrifuges related to the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant , and another transitive message to keep going in assertiveness to deter North Korean Nuclear Plant. U.S is pushing its allies to participate in stalling Iranian oil exportation to the U.S rivals such as China and North Korea. In the past years, U.S tried to give Iran a high rank to be the Middle Eastern police officer but it failed because Iran exceeded the red line when decided to build its Nuclear Plant .As the semi-conflict between U.S and Iran escalated, limited strikes against the Nuclear Site in Bushehr is on the table of U.S Military if Iran intercepts the international maritime movement through Hormuz Strait in the territorial water . At the end, Iranian insistence on the regional expansion will be the reason for the U.S to extract Iranian regime by force if the Revolutionary Guards leadership in Iran takes the wrong decision to enter the war. In addition, the convergence of interests between U.S and Iran in Iraq may take Iran to rethink its strategy in the region. Eventually Iran may accept negotiation with U.S after ending the show off of forces taking place in the Arab Gulf. Iran Used to the usual presence of U.S in the Arab Gulf but not like the way Donald Trump does, and that was stated by Ali Vaez Iran Project Director of International Crisis Group. Generally speaking, the convergence of American Iranian interests in many places in the Middle East made Iran surprised by U.S recent escalation. So that, Iran may try to renegotiate the Nuclear Deal again to avoid any clash with U.S. The reason behind avoiding the clash is that Iran doesn’t want to lose its presence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen which may lead to siege Iran by economic sanctions and change its regime by force.

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The Partnership between Europe and the Arab World through the Lens of Jordan

[5/9/2019 5:53:15 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Following World War II, when millions of people lost their lives and many parts of Europe were left in ruins, French politician Robert Schuman launched the process that would gradually unite European countries economically and politically. It was 9 May 1950. Since then, the process of European integration has continued gradually but relentlessly, deepening and widening what is today the European Union (EU) and reuniting a continent which had been split by the Cold War. The EU today is a unique partnership amongs28 Member States shaping a single market of 500 million consumers, underpinned by a single currency (the euro) and the freedom for its citizens to live, work and travel in any of the Member States. But the EU is much more than a purely economic project: the Union is also a political project. This is embodied by the European Parliament, elected democratically by all European citizens to represent their interests with regard to EU laws and regulations. This expression of democracy will take place on 23-26 May, when people will vote to appoint 751 Members of the European Parliament. Over the years, this political project has grown around core values of respect for human rights fundamental freedoms, democracy, equality, and the rule of law . These are also the values that the EU promotes globally through its projects and partnerships with governments, organizations and individuals, to enhance economic growth and foster peace and security, especially in the countries close to us. One stark example of that is the EU’s close relations and strategic partnership with the Arab world, built over decades on the basis of our shared history and common interests. An important step to further this cooperation was taken recently, when the EU and the Arab League held their first ever summit in Sharm El Sheikh to boost the Euro-Arab partnership and address global challenges jointly. During the summit, both sides reaffirmed that stronger regional cooperation is key to finding solutions to common challenges. The Leaders of Europe and the Arab World agreed to promote peace in the world and in the region, and in particular peace between Israelis and Palestinians. On this particular issue, the EU has worked in sync with Arab states, stressing its firm position on the two-state solution as the only way to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In Jordan this partnership is most apparent. It is a partnership that has been growing since 1979, 40 years ago, when the EU decided to open its Delegation in Amman in order to promote ties in all sectors and support the Kingdom's economic development. Since 2002, this partnership has been enshrined in our Association Agreement, which is built on our common values and aims at promoting our political and economic relations. This association has been a cornerstone in identifying the key priorities that build our partnership. They include cooperation on regional stability and security, including working hand in hand on the Middle-East Peace Process and in finding a political solution to the Syria crisis. We strongly believe in Jordan’s significant role in promoting stability, moderation and inter-faith tolerance in the Middle East. Given the economic challenges that Jordan faces, the most important priority today lies in promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development based on knowledge and innovation, leading to the creation of more jobs for all Jordanians—women and youth in particular. Another priority, fully in line with the Association Agreement, aims at strengthening democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights. Emphasis is placed on our work with both the Government and civil society to promote freedom of expression; freedom of association and women's rights and empowerment in political, economic and public life. The priorities of our partnership are closely aligned with the Government's Renaissance / Nahda plan for 2019-2020. EU projects support many of the plan's concrete actions under its three main pillars, from improving education and health services, to promoting investment and trade as well as empowering the judiciary and developing active citizenship. The EU's enduring partnership with Jordan, an example of how Europe can cooperate strategically with an Arab country, demonstrates how many challenges we share and how our cooperation can help promote peace and prosperity in the region for the benefit of all Jordanians, Arabs and Europeans. *By H.E. Andrea Matteo Fontana, Ambassador of the EU to Jordan

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