In letter, king factors to decreased intelligence company function in Jordan’s public life

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Feb 26, 2021

A letter despatched by King Abdullah to influential General Intelligence Directorate (GID) head Gen. Ahmad Husni on Feb. 17 is holding the dominion’s political class guessing over what the king actually desires. In the prolonged letter, the king praised the GID’s function over the previous years however known as on Husni to proceed the method of renewal, modernization and improvement of the division. 

The king mentioned that as the dominion marks its second centennial, the time has come for the division “to allow the country’s institutions to immediately step up to their constitutional and legal responsibilities in order to release the GID from the great burden it had to carry over the years.”

The king mentioned the GID “must remain a model of efficient intelligence in countering terrorism and security threats to our nation” in order that “it may develop its tools and methods to provide the best modern intelligence assessments to decision-makers in the political, economic and security-related fields, away from the regulatory and oversight roles that the circumstances had at times imposed on the department in areas that lie within the specialty of others that had not possessed the tools to practice them properly, but now do and must, therefore, undertake these roles in full, without delay.”

Analysts right here took this to imply ending the GID’s “oversight” over the home political, legislative and financial affairs, which had elevated prior to now twenty years. This comes after the king mentioned in an interview final month that the time has come to assessment legal guidelines regulating the political course of resembling elections and political events.  It additionally comes a couple of days after the Economic Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index labeled Jordan an authoritarian nation, retreating by 4 steps from its 2020 rating.

Analysts right here additionally consider this can be a message to the Biden administration forward of the king’s anticipated journey to Washington subsequent month. It additionally comes at a time when the economic system is going through main challenges within the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the place circumstances had not too long ago spiked.

On Feb. 21, the decrease home of parliament permitted what has been described because the most troublesome price range within the kingdom’s historical past, with an estimated post-foreign assist deficit of two.06 billion Jordanian dinars ($2.89 billion), or 6.5% of the gross home product (GDP). This comes as the dominion battles a greater than 23% unemployment charge and a shrinking economic system.

Writing in Al-Ghad every day on Feb. 20, political commentator Fahd Al-Khitan mentioned the king’s letter to the GID head is said to pure inside circumstances and had nothing to do with overseas developments when it comes to its content material and timing. “The royal letter is not meant to scale down or weaken the GID’s role but redraws its responsibilities within its core specialties after the country had gone through exceptional local and external developments, during which the concerned state’s institutions were less able to deal with them, forcing the GID to step in,” he mentioned.

“This comes after a series of careful royal revisions to respond to the needs for reform and modernization, and it will be followed by meaningful steps in the coming phase at more than one level, including political reforms,” he added.

For years, the GID was believed to have “influenced” the tide of political life within the kingdom from “managing” election outcomes to the best way lawmakers voted on key payments. But its function additionally prolonged to combating cash laundering and different financial crimes, together with corruption within the public sector. Now the king is asking it to deal with its core accountability in combating terrorism and addressing exterior threats to nationwide safety.

The royal letter got here a couple of days earlier than US President Joe Biden made his first debut on the worldwide stage on Feb. 19, when addressed a digital assembly of the Munich Security Conference the place he outlined the foundations of his administration’s overseas coverage. Biden underlined his dedication to defend democracy and shared democratic values, including that “our partnerships have endured and grown through the years because they are rooted in the richness of our shared democratic values. They’re not transactional. They’re not extractive. They’re built on a vision of a future where every voice matters, where the rights of all are protected and the rule of law is upheld.”

Analysts right here consider that democratic reforms and human rights might be on the middle of Biden’s ties with regional leaders. On Feb. 23, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, throughout a name that human rights might be “central” to ties between Cairo and Washington.

Political commentator Rana Sabbagh mentioned that after studying the letter many instances she puzzled if the king was actually ordering the dimensions down of the GID and its restructuring, or if the actual cause was to organize the bottom for the monarch’s upcoming go to to the United States. In a publish on her Facebook web page on Feb. 18, Sabbagh mentioned “the meaning of the message was to directly justify the intervention of the GID in everything that had to do with the political, economic, educational, legislative, social, governmental and judicial aspects, and then to relieve it from the big burden that it carried over the past decades.”

“The latest letter is tantamount to a white coup and a 180-degree shift, but executing the royal order to disengage the GID from non-intelligence missions that it had carried over the past three decades will take years to achieve and may end up being suspended along with other royal initiatives,” Sabbagh mentioned, including that the timing of the message have to be linked to preparations for the king’s upcoming go to to Washington and what the Biden administration could also be anticipating from Amman.

Maher Abu Tair, a political columnist at Al-Ghad every day, agrees with Sabbagh. He informed Al-Monitor that whereas Biden’s election final November was good for Jordan when it comes to the two-state resolution and the Palestinian concern, the reality is that Amman was a lot happier with the earlier administration when it got here to home recordsdata resembling public liberties, elections, political reforms {and professional} unions, the place there was no stress from Washington.

“Washington will be looking at the issues of democracy, political reforms and human rights as a priority, and we have seen how the US ambassador to Jordan (Henry Wooster) has been pushing recently for these domestic issues and his agenda will reflect that of the Biden administration,” Abu Tair mentioned. “This means that the year 2021 will see fundamental changes with regard to the domestic agenda, and this requires a genuine change in policies and people who will execute them,” he added.

“Washington will be looking at the fact that Jordan has been dubbed an authoritarian state on the democracy index and already knows of the shameful interference in the last legislative elections, which produced a lame parliament that constituted a lethal blow to all the promises of reform and change,” Sabbagh mentioned. “The new administration will not purchase into our excuses for suspending significant reforms, and right here lies the significance of the king’s letter.”