Confrontation in Writing…

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Wed 12 July / Jul 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Taher Odwan’s latest book, "Confrontation in Writing: My Files in Politics and Journalism", takes readers on a well-documented journey through recent transmutations in Jordan’s history, over the years 1997-2011.

The former Minister of Information and long-time Editor-in-Chief of Al-Arab Al-Youm; one of Jordan’s most important the novelists, using his well-known, nimble command of the language, to uncover significant stops in our modern history.

Mindfully, Odwan does not pose himself as a historian in his book, nor does he approach the incidents depicted from a pure political perspective.

Instead, through the eyes of the chief editor he once was, then minister of media, under Dr Marouf Bakhit’s government, before he resigned over media policy, around the time of the Arab Spring, he engage his readers with professionalism and objectiveness.

He resigned his ministerial post in protest over policies which he considered to be opposite to the freedom of press and opinion, and therefore negating his reasons for joining the government in the first place.

According to Mr Odwan, he joined the government to advance political reforms, not regress them.

Truthfully, the book’s value transcends the obvious.

It provides delicate knowledge on events which took place behind the scenes, in regards to both policy-making and cross-sectoral relations.

He engages the media’s relationship with the government and politicians too, through the variety of files the Arab Alyoum newspaper addressed on his watch.

More so, the book sheds a different light on the dynamics which govern state-media relations, or more precisely between freedom and the suppression of expression.

It depicts an exceptional model in regards to the political and media life in Jordan.

The writer himself has fought many a political battle for the causes he believed in.

Tirelessly, Odwan pushed on fights for the freedom of expression and of the press.

He resembles everything one looks for in journalists and writers, which negates the common perception of journalists in Jordan nowadays.

The book tackles various challenges the newspaper had faced during the years 1997-2011, confrontations with the governments.

Still, it does so subtly and brilliantly, that it is seamlessly embedded in context.

Alternatively, the book also addresses, between the lines, the battle Odwan’s newspaper fought against the Neo-Liberals gaining influence within the halls of power.

A prominent figure of this lot, as presented by Odwan, is former minister and chief of the royal court, Bassem Awadallah.

Throughout the book, readers are taken through the various files, in detail, on the known struggle between the powerhalls in Jordan.

It uncovers, as well, the massive pressures the Arab Alyoum newspaper had to endure.

Expectedly, Odwan’s battles were not without cost.

His struggle, and the newspaper’s just as well, dramatically affected Odwan’s image, as well as the images of his colleagues, Fahed Khitan and Salameh Daraawi.

The costs were not exclusive to the editorial of the newspaper.

Even the owner of AlArab Alyoum, Rajai Mouasher paid an hefty price for the battles our colleagues waged at the newspaper.

Now, it is time for Odwan to unload the drawers, and bring the details of that era into the light.

The beautiful thing about the book is that it takes us through Odwan’s journey in dynamic retrospect, one chapter at a time.

He starts off with his time under Bakhit’s government, which followed Samir Rifai’s.

Then he takes us through the discussions of innermost halls of the government, in regards to how the authorities decided to address the Arab Spring.

This part uncovers a lot about the relationships between the centres of decision and policy making, all the way to his retirement.

Then, he takes us back to the beginning of the media-political struggles of the Arab Alyoum, since 1997.

Through the reassignment of the heir apparent, the governments of Abul Ragheb, Badran, and the relationship with the security departments, as well as among themselves, to the rise of the Neo-Liberalists.

The book covers an immensely dense interval of modern Jordanian history, all the way to 2011.

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