CPW4U Course Culminating
Jordan's Issues at the 2030 World News Conference
Jordan: A Civil War Looms Large
Jordan has been in a state of disarray for a few decades, and there appears to be no end in sight. Jordan continues to face immense social, political, and cultural challenges, and these difficulties stem from a severe lack of fresh water resources, a poor human rights record, extreme poverty and economic instability, as well as the danger that the Islamic State poses by threatening Jordan’s sovereignty and security. Jordan has greatly suffered due to the presence of ISIL in neighbouring countries, and this has led to increased scrutiny and pressure on King Abdullah II, and his son, who has been more involved in the country’s operation and function lately, as the King’s heir. With limited water supplies, safety threats, and alarming unemployment and poverty rates, Jordan faces unprecedented struggles in order to prosper and progress forward as a united nation.
ISIL’s ability to gradually expand, and eventually control Iraq has had a hugely negative effect on Jordan. In 2015, Iraq was a fierce battle ground between Iraqi armed forces and the Islamic State. The United States assisted the Iraqi military by launching airstrikes against ISIL troops and bases, as highlighted when President Obama approved the bomb launching campaign, by stating, “We will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists…I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq” (Guardian). According to Obama, “the air strikes were a necessary counter-terrorism measure to prevent ISIL from becoming a future threat to the US” (Guardian), yet it is quite evident that the Americans and the rest of the world have all clearly failed to develop a proper strategic plan that would gradually relent and eventually eradicate the threat and growth of ISIL. With Iraq being swarmed and controlled by ISIL, Jordan’s other neighbours, Syria, are also seriously at risk of enduring the same predicament if the Islamic State is not stopped. If Syria were to be captured by this cowardly group of Jihadists and extreme Islamists, then Jordan would likely be one of ISIL’s next targets. In fact, if it has the capability to do so, ISIL will surely move on to Jordan, as illustrated by the prominent Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which claims, “Jordan’s capital could be attacked” (Haaretz). Whilst it is somewhat harsh to compare ISIL’s inhumane actions, invasions and heinous crimes with Russia’s capture of Crimea (from Ukraine), it is important to note that threatening and taking over another nation’s sovereign state is a very serious issue, and can affect millions of lives in a very negative manner. Although there are always geopolitical schemes and behind-the-scenes issues between countries that often lead to such bold acts, ISIL’s motifs appear to be geared more towards religion and extreme forms of Islam. In fact, “ISIL adhere to an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam and consider themselves the only true believers. They treat the rest of the world as unbelievers who seek to destroy Islam and use that to justify attacks against other Muslims and non-Muslims alike” (Express). After Iraq and Syria, Jordan is arguably the country that is most at risk of invasion by ISIL, and it is essential to prevent them from occupying Jordan. After the gruesome and horrific slaying of a Jordanian pilot several years ago, King Abdullah II declared a “third world war” (FOX News), and the entire world is now facing a global security threat, with Jordan being at the centre of this potentially catastrophic disaster.
The Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie, says that “power can be defined as one’s ability to be greater than another” (TED Talks), and whilst this can be directly associated with the ongoing civil wars in many countries within the Arabian Gulf, it is essential to note that modern society has become wholly dominated by money, greed, and total control. Power often tends to lead toward a will to dominate, and this sort of behaviour generally leads to corruption. This theory can truly be applied in most cases in modern society. Whether it is a country’s leadership or any particular governing body (such as FIFA), the likelihood of certain prominent and powerful figures seeking self-benefit and lacking integrity always exists. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has been subject to fierce criticism recently and rightly so. The constitutional monarchy has failed the people of Jordan, and it is now stumbling and on the verge of a historic collapse. Jordan has a dismal human rights record, as depicted by Reporters Without Borders, which ranked Jordan in the bottom half and lower echelons of a list that compiled 178 countries. Jordan was positioned in 120th place, with a poor track record of freedom of speech, press, and expression. Despite all of the worldwide criticism that it has faced and continues to deal with, “Jordanian law criminalizes speech deemed critical of the king, government officials, and institutions, as well as Islam and speech considered defamatory of others” (Human Rights Watch). Furthermore, in recent years, life in Jordan has only gotten more difficult and challenging. The economic and political instability in the country has led to widespread protests across the nation, albeit not to topple King Abdullah’s reign. The people of Jordan are unhappy with certain aspects and facets of the country’s operational scheme. For example, about 4,000 refugees displaced by the civil war that is taking place in Syria have crossed the border into Jordan, and as a result, these people are driving up rent costs, and also competing for scarce jobs. This sort of burden is hampering attempts to strength the country’s faltering economy. A majority of young men are unemployed or underemployed, and as one Jordanian puts it, “It’s a desperate situation” (Telegraph). The challenges that Jordanians face has played right into ISIL’s hands, as many teens continue to join the Islamic State as they seek more prosperous and fruitful lives. The mighty challenge that Jordan faces is to stem this influx of youth who believe that joining ISIL will halt their poverty and create better lives for them. As one youngster in Jordan states, “They had new ideas, new projects…People believed they (the militants) represented an Islamic way of life, and could improve their lives as well” (Times of Israel). All of these factors have infuriated many Jordanians, who are unhappy with the government’s lack of urgency and response. Vehement protests have started to take place, and campaigns to topple the government are ongoing once again. In 2011, Jordan faced a similar situation, and King Abdullah II acted by sacking the under fire government led by Samir Rifai, and replacing it with a new Prime Minister (Marouf Bakhit), who proved to be just as unpopular as his predecessor. With Jordan currently in a state of internal disarray, there is widespread speculation that the hostile situation in Jordan could turn into a chaotic civil war, as was the case in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, for example. This is highlighted in the following excerpt, which reads, “The underlying grievances - poverty, unemployment, rising prices and a lack of democratic freedoms - are the same in Jordan as they are in the rest of the Arab world. Even though there is no immediate threat to the monarchy itself, Abdullah has been savvy enough to realise that his kingdom is not immune to the wave of discontent that has swept through Arab nations” (Telegraph). The debacle that is taking place in Jordan is extremely concerning, and requires immediate attention, as the risk of an ignominious civil war looms large and beckons.
A severe lack of fresh water resources has continued to seriously affect many Jordanians, and with the nation already dealing with security threats and a potential civil war, this issue is simply another problem for Jordan to resolve. Jordan is considered the fourth driest country in the world, which is not surprising due to the desert environment that encompasses 92% of its land area. In addition, its per capita share of renewable water resources is now approximately just an alarming 90 m3 per year (University of California-Berkeley projection for 2025). This is much lower than the standard “water poverty line” of 500 m3 per person per year. Furthermore, according to statistics provided by Aquastat, this appears to be even graver when compared with average per capita water availability in the United States of around 9,000 m3 per year (Aquastat). Jordan’s dire situation is highlighted in this report, which states, “As populations have continued to grow the world over, resources have not. Arguably the most essential and endangered resource is fresh water and its increasing scarcity has become more dire with each passing year. The Middle East, in particular, has been confronting a critical situation with regard to water resources for some time and yet the region still struggles with how to cope with its dismal lack of fresh water. Populations in the region have more than quadrupled during the last five decades and are expected to continue to grow at a fast pace. Water resources in Jordan are directed towards four different sectors: agriculture, municipal supplies, industry, and tourism. By far the largest user of the country’s water resources is agriculture, which uses roughly 64% of the total water supply, while 30% goes to municipal uses, 5% for industry, and 1% for tourism” (University of Texas). Yet surprisingly, despite the agricultural sector consuming a large share of Jordan’s water resources, it only adds a minimal 3% to its overall gross domestic product (GDP). Jordan must overcome a great number of difficult hurdles if it plans on developing a long term sustainable and viable resolution to this serious shortcoming of water resources. Whilst there are plenty of nations throughout the entire world that endure water crises on different scales and levels, Jordan is in a particularly acute and unpleasant situation due to its poor leadership and resource management, as well as extremely water-poor environment and location.
Jordan is currently at a stage of uncertainty. There is fear within the constitutional monarchy, as well as government ranks, that people will slowly start to feel aggrieved by a perceived lack of interest from their leaders, which could lead to a disastrous outcome. King Abdullah II has often said all of the right things, but has failed to put his words into action. A population’s hope is turning into desperation, especially due to a remarked lack of water resources, the state’s sovereignty being threatened by ISIL and a faltering economy that is increasing poverty and unemployment, whilst also encouraging some to join ISIL’s cause. The people of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya were also livid with their respective governments, and they resorted to relentless protesting in order to oust their respective leaders. Unfortunately, the result of these actions led to civil wars in each of those nations, and there is increased uncertainty and instability that exists in all three of the aforementioned countries. Jordan must quickly learn from those past lessons or it faces the danger of falling apart like many of its neighbours have over the past few decades.
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