Running Out of Options

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Mon 22 May / May 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Some are immersed in the delusional aspiration of Arab Unity, of a consolidated agenda serving the interests of the peoples throughout the Arab world.

This illusion of a dream still stands, even though everything on the horizon suggests further deterioration and division in our region over the coming years.

Syria stands at a crossroads today: Either carry out the ongoing war by proxy until the belligerents come to terms, or watch the Syria we’ve known for nearly a century now split apart, driven by demographic changes and sectarian factors.

Iraq’s war against ISIS is almost over, but that will not bring about stability.

Quite the contrary, the upcoming phase will deepen the divide and amplify the implications of the resources which were drained in the years past.

The great country to the East of us seems to be heading down a path which will either sustain the nation-state’s autonomy, which is quite farfetched, or sink it in the Iranian sea of geopolitical influences.

As implied by the Saudi-Trump Summit, the next few years will feature an escalation with Iran, which will keep the whole region under the knife, perpetuating the sectarian turmoil, increasing regional and military expenditures in an attempt to win the regional geopolitical race.

Meanwhile, the people pay the price with their lives and hopes for a better future.

The outcome of the Arab situation is endless civil dispute and proxy wars, while development remains suspended until the overlaying issues are resolved.

The fact is that nothing omens a brighter future any time soon, and nothing indicates that the region is on its way to a better resolve.

Likewise, it is no secret that the aspirations of our peoples and youth will also remain suspended until the regional condition allows them room to breathe.

Apparently, development is nowhere near the top of the region’s priorities.

We, in Jordan, seem to be running out of options. US media is talking about further cuts in foreign US aid and support, particularly for Jordan.

This is despite the diplomatic persistence that this not being even remotely possible, insisting that the US remains Jordan’s top financial supporter, Europe now a close second since Arab support has fallen away.

Notably, Jordan needs no more than one billion dinars annually to pull itself out of this hole!

For as long as Jordan’s plans differ from the region’s, despite the region’s indivisible fate, the chances that Jordan receives the support it needs are slimming.

Even though Jordan and the US, for example, are unified in the war against terror and ISIS, it seems the US has other priorities at the moment.

Notwithstanding, the King has set Jordan and the region’s priorities into three main fields: Jerusalem and the Palestinian issue, the peace process, and the war against ISIS and their ilk.

In the meantime, Jordan faces a suffocating financial crisis, due to the increase in spending on domestic and other issues related to the cost of hosting Syrian refugees. Out of all this, the International Community has covered only a humble part of these costs.

Additionally, we need not forget the increasing costs of military expenditures, given the surrounding situation and the rising threat on the North and North Eastern borders.

Domestically too, this coincides with increasingly difficult living conditions for Jordanians, given the culminating economic crisis, and the skyrocketing rates of poverty and unemployment.

The public mood isn’t all roses and butterflies.

This is a difficult time for Jordanians, as Jordan undergoes the financial reform program in coordination with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Eventually there will be harsher economic reform decisions soon, delivering more blows to the fixed-income and middle class segments of society.

Despite all the public policies and decisions made to constitute economic reformation, it seems the projected rates of economic growth are nowhere near the set goals. Especially in regards to living conditions; the costs of living, primarily.

Estimations project that the current year and the next will be even tougher for Jordanians, in every way, particularly now that hopes for Arab and foreign investments in Jordan have decreased.

Clearly, investment is headed Westbound, instead of East.

That said, it is worth looking for a way out of this deepening hole we’re in.

While our allies seem unaware of the scale of the impending catastrophe, there grows the need to find ways to alleviate our crisis.

This may cause a shift in Jordan’s policies, and perhaps in the Kingdom’s overall geopolitical direction. One towards more feasible rearrangements, in terms of rebuilding Jordan’s durability to withstanding the current crisis, which doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon.

In light of all this, what options - and more so - what capabilities, do we have to make the turn?

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.