To know about the King’s US visit

By Fahed Khitan

I, and on behalf of my colleagues, would like to, from the bottom of my heart, thank the three American officials who spoke to the press about the visit of His Majesty King Abdullah to the US — unveiling some aspects of His Majesty’s discussions with the US President Barack Obama — and presented the kind of issues relevant to both countries at this juncture.*

If it was not for them, we would not have known anything about the visit; why was the summit held in California and not in the White House as usual. We would not have known that Jordan is in discussion with the US foreign secretary John Kerry and Gen. John R. Allen, who is in charge of the security file, about how to reach an agreement that suits the three relevant parties (Jordan, Israel, and Palestinian Authority) regarding borders and common security.

We needed the US officials talk to know that “Jordan is cooperative, and is thinking about different ways to achieve this goal, so that a solution that is both compliant with Israel’s security and Palestinian sovereignty is reached”.

We thank them, from the bottom of our hearts, because the Jordanian officials concerned with His Majesty’s visit did not find the time, before or after the visit, to let the public opinion and media in Jordan understand the agenda of the visit, nor did they find the time to give us details about the discussions in Washington or California. All we got was general information that could work for any time and any place.

While all western and Arab media were rife with guesses and news about the visit, and the results of it regarding the Jordanian stance — whether about the peace talks or the Syrian crisis — all those concerned were silent. None of them gave a press statement or held a press conference, and none of them thought of an off the record session to explain the details of the visit. Nothing. The reason, of course, we know: Local media is seen as inferior, and the public opinion in Jordan is seen as irrelevant.

It does not matter if journalists know the details or not, their job is to write articles and editorials that repeat the same rhetoric and dry official statements.

The visit was important, we know that. It came at a tough, complicated, and sensitive juncture, amid a general feeling of discontent and congestion about what is being circulated on Kerry’s plan for the region, and all the possible scenarios for Syria after Geneva II failed. For that, we know it is important. It is a given that the public knows all the details, so that people do not resort to wild speculations.

The public’s opinion cannot be won by the same traditional methods nor with empty rhetoric. This is the age of information and truths. If you do not present your story first, many will fill up the gaps with stories and news that might be inconvenient, at times, and harmful often.

It was notably interesting how the official political circles in the US were keen on the King’s visit; more than the Jordanian officials. It seemed as if the US’s interest in Jordan were larger than Jordan’s in the US. This is, however, how some of our officials like to work; they like to pretend as if they are a superpower.

*Kindly note Taghreed Rishqs’s report, printed in Al Ghad’s Thursday issue (Febraury 13, 2014) on page six. In Arabic.



This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition. 

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