To be fair, some good is coming from the government; in the midst of the public wrath over the recent propositions on raising taxes, Prime Minister Dr Hani Mulqi has been in Baghdad for the first time, working to reopen the eastern gates for Jordanian trade and the mutual benefit of both countries.
The outcomes of the premier’s deliberations with Iraqi counterpart Heydar Abadi and ranking Iraqi officials came in bearing good news, foremost of it is going forward on the establishment of the oil pipeline from Basra to Aqaba, and the official reassurance that the Trabil border cross is soon to be reopened. Notwithstanding, an agreement has been struck on exempting Jordanian exports to Iraq from custom fees, next to a bundle of other agreements on issues of mutual interest.
Over the last few years, Jordanian-Iraqi relations have seen much turbulence, mostly due to changes in the Iraqi scene over the last two decades. And throughout the times of friendliness and estrangement, both have come to agree that mutual interests are above all.
On our part, Jordan is suffering unprecedented economic conditions. And second only by the people, Mulqi is paying the price; none of our friends and allies should blame Jordan; the government’s duty now is to place the Kingdom’s interest above anything else, including the typical touchy Arab issues.
To us in Jordan, Iraq carries an extremely vital economic depth, to which there is no substitute. Numerous Jordanian industries rely on the Iraqi market, as well as on the commercial and land transportation movement with Iraq and Syria.
It goes without saying; we are not responsible for the border shutdown with either one of our neighbours. But if there is anything we can do to reopen them, we should not hesitate, despite our relations with influential states or our political stances.
Given the difficult economic discourse, foreign relations must be governed purely by economic interests. The agreement to import gas from Israel was signed despite of all the political issues, based also on economic factors; how is it in any way more inappropriate to follow suit in relation to Arab states?
Particularly in Iraq, Jordan is now playing a vital role in support of national reconciliation efforts, upon the request of Iraq; offering everything we can afford to help our brothers in their war, and ours, against terrorism!
We need to carry on the reconstruction of strong relations with Iraq without hesitation.
In this discourse, committees must be formed to facilitate and expedite joint projects on daily basis, as well as follow on the reopening of the border crossing. This would be much better than waiting for grants and aid which apparently are not coming.
On the other frontier, Syria, let us first and foremost —as well— put our interests. We must be part of the rearrangements underway between Russia, Turkey, and Iran, and we need to effort endlessly to secure land routes through Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey.
Due to the crises in Syria and Iraq, we have taken massive economic blows which have rendered us breathless —economically speaking— in the face of the intensifying domestic predicament.
More so, we have let down our own brothers before we let down our friends! And now, as we face the moment of truth, we must not turn back, no matter what it costs.
America, our greatest ally, will as soon make a full on turn with Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House.
Likewise, we should too!