“The Economist” Report on Jordan: Lower Level of Professionalism…more Mistakes

Akeed – Rasha Salameh

A report on Jordan, which appeared in the June edition of the leading English magazine “The Economist” lacks professionalism and is factually flawed, an analysis by Jordan Media Credibility Monitor, Akeed, found. The report, titled “King Abdullah of Jordan Fears that Old allies are Ditching Him” “Fewer Friends, more Problems,” also made a series of false and unsubstantiated claims, said the online portal.

The article started with commenting on Jordan’s celebrations of the 20th anniversary of King Abdullah II’s accession to the Throne, which falls on June 9th, saying the occasion was marked by low turnout. However, the article was issued on June 6th, three days before the official celebrations. The story wrongly claimed that the celebrations took place on February 7th – the day the Monarch’s father, the late King Hussein passed away and King Abdullah assumed his constitutional powers. It is worth noting that this year, the occasion was marked by unprecedented celebrations, with one event alone drawing over 10,000 citizens, aside from similar celebrations held across governorates, argued Akeed. The report also said that tribal leaders were arrested and claimed that the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, which was held in the Dead Sea, “failed to attract the desired audience of global bigwigs”. Akeed, which fact-checks news content, said the allegations were not substantiated with evidence.

Furthermore, the writer mixed fact and opinion, failed to present all sides of the story, and relied on anonymous sources.

The report said that “Jordan served as a reliable and moderate Western ally when other Arab states turned to the Soviet Union. It acted as a conduit to next-door Israel…when others shunned the Jewish state.” It added that “America used Jordanian territory to launch special forces into Iraq and as a base from which to co-ordinate rebels in Syria’s civil war.”

Although some of these conclusions are considered valid, others were based on hearsay – often exploited by regional media - and were not validated by facts, figures, or official statements, according to Akeed.

A former official was also quoted in the body of the article as saying that “at home and abroad, the king is losing his prestige.” The writer added that today “Jordan doesn’t seem so essential. Many Arab states now deal directly with Israel.”

The writer continued by saying that “Some of them are upset with King Adbullah for not toeing the line on regional matters. The King has maintained relations with Qatar, which has been ostracised by other Gulf states, and backed away from the war in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He is seen as soft on the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that operates in Jordan but is banned elsewhere. The king has even shaken hands with Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, which is hated by big Arab powers.”

 “King Abdullah moans that the administration of Donald Trump is ignoring him as it draws up a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. The king also worries that the plan will ignore his historical claim to custodianship of Jerusalem’s holy places.”

Akeed noted that Jordan has always stood by its firm positions vis-a-visa national and Arab causes, adding that, in the article, Jordan was portrayed as a weak country - a claim refuted by Akeed.

The writer also noted that the US and Gulf States can put pressure on Jordan by withholding aid. “Saudi Arabia did not renew its aid package in 2017, a move that Jordanian officials viewed as punishment for their nonconformist policies… King Abdullah said he faced economic pressure to tone down his opposition to Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

However, according to the website of the US embassy in Jordan, Jordan and the US agreed to a five-year MOU “which promised $1.275 billion per year in bilateral foreign assistance from 2018-2022 – a total of $6.375 billion.” According to the website, “In 2018, the U.S. Congress increased the pledged assistance to $1.525 billion. This funding included $1.08 billion in economic assistance, as well as $425 million in support for the Jordanian military.”

Additionally, when referring to Jordan’s twin ills of youth unemployment, at 41% and poverty - which he said hits one million out of the Kingdom’s population of ten million - the writer took a sarcastic tone. He said “Such is the demand for jobs that when the American embassy in Jordan advertised for a secretary, radio stations ran the news on their bulletins.”

Established in 1843, the Economist says it offers authoritative insight and opinion on international news, politics, business, and others.