Taher Masri: An Appraisal of Character

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Thu 8 September / Sep 2016. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Thu 8 September / Sep 2016. 08:16 PM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Taher Masri deserve the massive audience that showed up at the Abdul Hamid Shoman forum for the signing of his book “The Harvests of Difficult Times”. Taher Masri is unlike any other prominent, experienced Jordanian politician, nor like any other premier, Senate speaker, minister, or MP; he is exceptional in ways that have made him a unique “political phenom”.

Now, the book is a collection of articles, interviews, and views stated by Masri during his fertile career in the public and political sphere, which started under the dome, through Zaid Rifai’s government in 1973, as a minister, at the age of 31. Afterwards, he occupied several public positions, from MP to Appointed Senate, and has served as Jordan’s ambassador to several countries, during his career at the foreign ministry, up until he formed his government in 1991. He also presided both houses of Parliament, as well as the National Dialogue Committee in 2011, which was anchored in the very precise time of “Arab Spring” revolutions.

What makes him so exceptional?

Masri’s exceptionality lies in his ability to administrate and manage “counterpoise” in difficult situations, and his capacity to work under pressure. In short, he is a reformist from within the regime itself, not outside of it.

The equation of balances Masri successfully addressed is complicated; there are many reformists, democrats, and liberalists in the country, but most find themselves before one of two main options: the first would be to exit the system, and oppose it from outside of its frameworks, which is easier and less complicated than internal reformation. And the second, is to go with the flow so that they would either turn into anti-reform conservatives, or just practical, executive instruments of implementation, devoid of value or particular political flavour.

Masri’s popularity, credibility, and exceptionality have shown in his ability to locate and stand a hidden ground between his reformist, civil vision on one hand, and his role inside the state on the other. And this did not appeal, necessarily, to many parts on both ends of the political spectrum. Within the system were many who sought to trap Masri and spread rumours against him, doubting his loyalty to the regime. And among the reformists, many attacked the man and accused him of being overly flexible, by passing decisions and policies that do not converge with his views and convictions.

Perhaps this is exactly what makes him so special; another feature to be attributed to Masri’s own persona, he is consensual. He gathers people around him, and they seek him out to settle political disputes between opposition and authority. He has always been there for the State to mediate critical situations, to warm things up and sooth agitation. Which may explain the realistic pragmatism that gave him the flexibility to approach the political dynamic with versatility, while able to sustain his known reformist discourse.

This builds up a divergence in his character; he is consensual, and always keeps it simple and clear. But at the same time, he is capable of waging political and personal wars of massive magnitudes in the shades, which only communicates his political expertise and proficiency. This alone, explains Taher Musri’s different characteristics.

More so, this is the secret to his success in many a difficult, crucial, complicated station in “difficult times”.

His rivals should have never underestimated his value in the current moment within the system, albeit because of an official or unofficial position, all the same.