Jordan: New government, old faces, dashed hopes
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Arabic media review

Jordan: New government, old faces, dashed hopes

‘A regular government in exceptional times,’ a Jordanian analyst calls the kingdom’s new technocrat cabinet

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour (photo credit: AP)
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour (photo credit: AP)

The establishment of Jordan’s new government leads the Arab news on Sunday.

The Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera reports that Jordan’s new government headed by (previous) Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour is the smallest since 1967, with only 18 ministers. The channel interviews Jordanian journalist Fahed Khitan, who criticizes Ensour’s new government for containing no ministers from within the parliament, contrary to promises to that effect by King Abdullah.

“Following two months of promises about a new phase, we have returned to the starting point before the elections, as though nothing has changed,” Khitan told Al-Jazeera, predicting that the new government will not last more than four months.

“Jordan: Ensour forms a technocrat government,” reads the headline of the London-based daily Al-Hayat, reporting that Prime Minister Ensour alluded to the possibility of appointing additional ministers from within the parliament at a later stage.

Opposition forces in Jordan, especially Islamists, criticized the fact that Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh was left in office in the new government, the daily reports.

“It seems as though the parliament was left out of the game of [government] formation, as most of its members were unaware of the names of the news ministers, which included one woman, Rim Abu-Hassan, who was appointed minister of social development,” reads the article.

The Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat features a photo of the new ministers walking down the steps of the royal palace in Amman, after having pledged their allegiance to the king on Saturday.

The daily quotes Prime Minister Ensour praising the leadership of King Abdullah, who helped Jordan cross the “minefield” of the Arab Spring with relative ease.

The independent Jordanian daily Al-Ghad reports on Sunday that the new government will face “unpopular” economic decisions — considering the rising prices of energy, the budgetary deficit, and the demand of the International Monetary Fund for far-reaching economic reforms in Jordan.

Jordanian columnists express their disappointment at the new government, claiming almost unanimously that it is no different than the previous one.

“There is a general feeling that the idea of a parliamentary government [i.e., a government whose ministers are selected from within the parliament] has been emptied of its meaning,” writes Al-Ghad columnist Jumana Ghneimat. “Expectations and hopes were for a government to last four years, but one can predict — based on the names of ministers in the new government — that it will not be long-lived, especially given that the prime minister narrowed his government to the extent that every minister carried three portfolios. This bears a direct message to the parliament members.”

Nabil Ghishan, writing in the independent Jordanian daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm, wonders why it took so long to form such an unremarkable new government.

“The real confrontation will take place in parliament, because the parliamentary blocs and individual parliamentarians will ask about each and every name, portfolio, and absence. The prime minister’s promises to reform the government in a few months and appoint parliamentarians for ministerial positions will not suffice,” writes Ghishan.

The new government is overtly attacked in the Islamist news website As-Sabeel. An article Saturday calls the consultations with the parliamentary blocs “public relations, not attempts to form a government.”

The piece, titled “The new government: an unpleasant surprise,” quotes Jordanian analyst Oreib Rantawi as saying that the new government is “regular in exceptional times.”

Yemen’s president warns of looming civil war

A-Sharq Al-Awsat leads its news Sunday with a report that Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi warned of attempts to foil the “national dialogue” between the central government in Sanaa and southern separatists.

Hadi said the country may slip into civil war if dialogue with the south fails.

He accused former deputy president Ali Salem Al-Bidh of leading a group that imposed civil disobedience in the southern city of Aden at gunpoint, causing “great damage to the citizens.”

 

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