Back Away from the Edge

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Wed 6 June / Jun 2018. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Despite the realisation of public demands, be it the retraction of the price hikes on fuel or the resignation of the government, the protests continued.

The appointment of a democratic, reformist figure, Omar Razzaz, as prime minister did not put the protests to sleep. All the pledges to launch a national dialogue on the income tax law bill, and more, did not defuse the situation.

In just these past 24 hours, there have been union strikes and protests in the Capital, Amman, as well as in the governorates.

At first, no one had any idea the scale of the protests and public discontent, let alone the nature of it. But as the first strike succeeded and more people began taking to the streets, the youth grew more and more enthusiastic about attaining greater results and achieving deeper, qualitative changes.

Had Dr Razzaz come at a different time, maybe that would have been seen as a victory for the democratic reformist current. But the timing, at this particular historic moment, put the entire current, not only Razzaz, on the spot.

The streets have turned against him, at least in part.

Honestly, this is the last thing I expected; to see the people chanting against the man out in the streets.

Still, the fundamental reason why they are doing so is not his person.

Instead, it is the mere fact that the state has lost so much credibility, and much of the people’s trust and confidence. The youth do not believe anything coming from our officials now, after all is said and done!

I did not plan to play the blame game today. Nothing would please me more than to turn the page and move past the previous stage. But it crucial that we reflect on it.

The political elite have lost the people. The governments’ plummeting popularity and the public’s loss of confidence in the official institution has a price. One that we’re now paying for.

It was clear from the Strategic Studies Centre’s latest poll on the popularity of Mulqi’s government that it has dropped significantly, to dangerous levels. We should have sounded the alarm then.

The official institution made a mistake by taking it so lightly. Now, we all pay the price.

We need to back away from the edge.

We must think of the future and how to handle this situation, and any other that comes our way. To do so, officials should leave their confinements and address the public, engage the populace in real dialogue, and convey messages of good intent, especially in regards to reforms and the income tax law.

Officials need to reaffirm to the people that we indeed stand on the edge of a new beginning, as opposed to the ledge of our downfall.

The government formation must also be reflective of the change in tone, approach and attitude.

It is equally important that we maintain the peacefulness and civility of the scene, to make sure the country isn’t dragged into something worse.

The protestors must contain themselves from provocative behaviours, and the officials must find away to contain the hot-headed, volatile figures from the decision making process. Clashes must be avoided in peaceful protests, and violence must be minimised at all costs.

Many of the protestors are educated, cultivated youths thirsty for change and real reforms. What we need at this point is to win them over, not lose them to the violence and disenfranchisement of oppression and suppression, nor alienate them by further dismissing their demands.

This is the real challenge.

It is vital that no effort is spared to absorb the protesting youths as quickly as possible. The new prime minister is on the clock, and time here is of the essence.

Not realising that is a mistake. One that was repeatedly made by the resigned government. And it will only deepen the problem.

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