Archive for the 'Jordan' Category

Jul 03 2014

World Cup and the digital switchover

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Following appeared in the Jordan Times Newspaper

If all goes as planned, this could be the last World Cup that the general public in most Arab countries, including Jordan and Palestine, will not be able to watch for free.

According to FIFA laws and regulations, TV broadcasting of the game should not be monopolised by any country, but the Arab region is the exception to the rule.

The near absence of any Jordanians terrestrial TV broadcasting has played into the hands of the oil-rich Gulf countries that paid exorbitant licence fees for the satellite broadcast of this season’s World Cup (as well as the last).

As reportedly 96 per cent of Jordanians watch satellite stations, a warped television culture has developed.

Hundreds (some say thousands) of stations are available free to air in the Arab region, despite the fact that most of them are broadcasting what amounts to inferior programming.

Whether a country or a movement, to exist politically in the Arab world one has to be on satellite.

The little box in the corner of the TV screen bearing one’s name or logo has become the sign of political existence, irrespective of the fact that someone watches that station or not.

All this could change in the next year or so if the planned switchover to terrestrial digital broadcasting is implemented properly.

Digital broadcasting not only provides regulators with tens of newly available stations (both nationwide and local) at higher quality and lower upload costs, it also gives end users many benefits, including recording, replaying and listening to broadcasts in different languages or subtitles for those with difficulty hearing. Continue Reading »

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May 06 2014

Clerics, scholars debate action on Jerusalem

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The dangers facing Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque finally appear to have elicited serious Arab reactions. The guests and comments of the organizers of a recent conference held in the Jordanian capital of Amman reflect a newfound seriousness.

“The Road to Jerusalem” — held April 28-30 and organized by the World Islamic Sciences and Education University and Jordan’s Palestine parliamentary committee — tackled some hard issues never before confronted. The seriousness of the discussion was best conveyed when Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad, King Abdullah’s right-hand man on religious issues (including Jerusalem), convened a private meeting, without the press in attendance, with delegates from Palestine and the Arab world.

Leaks from that meeting indicate that Ghazi described the seriousness of the situation, in particular in regard to the Hashemite pledge to protect and defend the Haram al-Sharif, the site of Al-Aqsa, and Jerusalem in general. Jordan’s unique role in Jerusalem is codified in Article 9 of the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty and in a special Jordanian-Palestinian agreement signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah in March 2013. Continue Reading »

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Mar 19 2014

Israeli killing of judge at border provokes backlash in Jordan

Published by under Articles,Jordan

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The killing of Raed Zeiter, a Palestinian-Jordanian judge, at the entry to the Israeli-controlled side of the King Hussein Bridge on March 10 has resulted in an explosion of anger in the Hashemite kingdom. Protests and marches took place late that night near the Israeli Embassy in Amman. The following day, a vigil at Amman’s Justice Palace saw thousands of lawyers and judges unite in denouncing the killing. Students also protested at various universities, but perhaps the strongest voices were raised at the March 11 afternoon session of the Jordanian parliament, where legislators demanded in unison that the government expel the Israeli ambassador and recall Jordan’s envoy to Tel Aviv. Many even went so far as to call for scrapping the Israeli-Jordanian peace agreement. Others sought clemency for Ahmad Daqamseh, the Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli girls on the Jordan’s side of the northern crossing point in March 1997 and has served more than half of his 25-year sentence.

The killing took place just two weeks after Amnesty International produced a report detailing how “trigger-happy” Israeli soldiers often abuse their firepower. The shooting of Judge Zeiter very much fits the profile of the way well-armed Israeli soldiers conduct themselves, likely due to the impunity provided by the Israeli establishment. The study found that in most cases, Israeli soldiers are not held accountable for premeditated killings. Amnesty judged these premeditated wanton killings — in which the soldiers’ lives are not in danger — to be war crimes. Continue Reading »

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Mar 13 2014

Israeli Occupier-occupied Paradigm Must End

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By Daoud Kuttab

For 46 years the bridge connecting the West Bank with Jordan has been a source of hardships, humiliations and extremely long and unnecessary delays, not to mention cumbersome and exaggerated body and baggage searches. This nightmare has to end.

What happened on Monday morning March 10th is a symptom of the occupation versus occupied paradigm that must come to an end. A 38-year-old Jordanian father of two and a sitting judge in Amman’s Court of First Instance, attempted to travel to Nablus like many Palestinians and Jordanians of Palestinian origin. His altercation with Israeli soldiers that ended with his death must be a warning flag that this injustice and humiliation cannot continue.

Anyone who crosses the King Hussein Bridge knows very well how the Israelis have for decades forged a shameful occupier-occupied relationship with the power of their guns. The Oscar-winning film Twelve Years a Slave, perfectly illustrates the way that the oppressed absorb all kinds of humiliation simply in order to survive as they wait for salvation.

Raed Zuaiter, the Jordanian judge, like any other human being, apparently walked into this mess without the added shield of years of humiliation and he couldn’t accept it. For their part, the Israeli soldiers, brainwashed to suspect every passenger as a potential “terrorist”, viewed the rebellion against accepting the occupier-occupied paradigm as enough proof that the rebellious person must be a terrorist. As they say, the rest is history.

The Israeli spin machine quickly went into action. The oft-repeated defense was that Zuaiter went for the soldier’s gun. Later it was adjusted that he went for his throat, attempting to strangle him. The “terrorist” label also required some audio. So again the spin machine fabricated that the judge yelled Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar before lunging for the soldier’s gun (or throat), thus confirming that he was a terrorist. Continue Reading »

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Feb 27 2014

Community radio gets a boost in Jordan

Following appeared in the Jordan Times

By Daoud Kuttab

Community media received a major boost in Jordan this week with the launch of the third Aswatona conference at the Dead Sea.

More than 100 community radio activists gathered at the lowest spot on Earth to talk about the challenges of producing, broadcasting and sustaining community owned media, especially radio.

Community radio activists from areas not under the control of the Syrian regime were the stars of the event organised by a local Jordanian NGO, Community Media Network, and the UK-based Community Media Solutions in association with Jordan’s Audio Visual Commission and the World Association of Community Broadcasters.

Broadcasting radio in the Middle East and North Africa is a huge challenge. The post-colonial region witnessed many revolts and military coups that always included taking over national radio.

New powers were careful not to allow others to own radio stations so as not to have them do what they did when they took power. Continue Reading »

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Feb 20 2014

Jordanian Diplomacy and Public Protests Produces Results in Protecting Al Aqsa

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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Following appeared in the Jordan Times

By Daoud Kuttab

Jordan succeeded this week to force the Israeli Knesset to cancel a discussion planned for Tuesday regarding Al Aqsa Mosque.

The public debate was initiated by the deputy speaker of the Israeli legislature, Moshe Feiglen, and was intended to focus on the issue of sovereignty over the third holiest place in Islam.

Rightwing Israelis want to remove any non-Israeli control over the mosque area.

Al Haram Al Sharif, built in the seventh century, is a walled area that spans 144 dunums and includes two mosques (the silver-domed Al Aqsa Mosque and the gold-covered Dome of the Rock), as well as court areas, an Islamic museum, a Sharia Islamic court and other facilities.

The cancellation of the Israeli Knesset session followed what appeared to be a well-orchestrated public, private and governmental approach.

Jordan’s Parliament got the ball rolling initially, with a strong statement by its Palestine committee threatening to cancel the Israeli-Jordan treaty if the status of the revered Islamic site is changed.

Jordan’s treaty with Israel clearly specifies the Hashemite Kingdom’s unique role in protecting the status of holy shrines in Jerusalem. Furthermore, a Palestinian-Jordanian agreement that recognises Palestinian sovereignty over occupied Jerusalem accepts the role of the Hashemites as guardians of Islamic and Christian holy places in Jerusalem. Continue Reading »

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Feb 16 2014

Kerry Peace Plan Shakes up Jordanian-Palestinian Relations

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By Daoud Kuttab

The seriousness of the U.S.-initiated framework for a possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem appears to have shaken dormant relations in the region, including in Jordan.

The Palestinian-Jordanian relationship, which is experiencing its highest degree of cooperation and mutual trust, is being put to the test.

The challenges facing this important relationship stem from identity issues that have plagued Jordan for decades but which have been pushed under the rug.

Jordanian politicians, pundits, journalists and even government officials are expressing different degrees of concern and worry regarding the aftermath of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plan, even though information about the plan is very sketchy.

The potential of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has resurrected badly needed discussion about political reform, which was delayed until the resolution of the Palestinian cause.

The refugee issue is perhaps the most important part of this discussion. Two million registered refugees in Jordan are the biggest single group of Palestinian refugees in the world. Their case is even more complicated by the fact that they are also full Jordanian citizens, though not equitably represented in Parliament as a result of large-scale gerrymandering. Continue Reading »

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Feb 16 2014

Jordanians demanding transparent discussions on nuclear plans

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

Heated discussions today in Jordan are not about political reform or media policy, but about an issue that is even more relevant to every citizen: the nuclear energy programme.
A debate held last Saturday at the Parliament by Radio Al Balad revealed some of the deep-seated emotions on both sides of the argument.
A saner roadmap to reaching agreement on what is best for Jordan is needed. Perhaps one place to go to for such advice is Sweden, a country of nine million which has a nuclear programme.
I asked for advise to the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Hillevi Engström on a visit to Jordan.
Her answer could be a good basis for what the discussions in Jordan should focus on. Engström noted that the issue of nuclear energy is very complicated and that in order to take the right decisions, it is important to have a comprehensive discussion on it.
She also noted that her government vowed not to add any new reactors but to work hard on improving existing reactors to ensure safety and security.
The Swedish minister also expressed the need to follow a parallel policy of encouraging clean alternative energy solutions.
If one takes this advice to the Jordanian scene, one finds some huge holes in how Jordan, especially its Nuclear Atomic Energy Commission, and its director Khaled Toukan are conducting themselves. Continue Reading »

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Feb 16 2014

Jordan and Palestinian Refugees

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By Daoud Kuttab

An interesting development is taking places in Jordan: Forty years after the Rabat Summit, which declared the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people, one aspect of representation is being challenged.

Jordanian officials, including the prime minister, the speaker of the Parliament and the foreign minister, were recently quoted as demanding a greater role for Jordan in the peace talks.

In addition to insistence on a role on the future of Jerusalem, Jordanian officials are saying that no final status agreement regarding refugees can be finalised without Jordan’s say.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has over two million registered Palestinian refugees, and many more unregistered.

According to the Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh, since Jordan gave these Palestinian refugees citizenship, it should have a say in their future, whether in terms of return or compensation, or both.

Jordan also insists that as a host country to 42 per cent of the world’s Palestinian refugees, its decades old effort must be recognised and compensated.

Perhaps the official Jordanian position on the Palestinian refugees was best summarised by Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh’s statement when he chaired the UN Security Council this week: “Most of the refugees on our territory are Jordanian citizens in addition to their status as refugees, and it lies at the heart of our responsibilities to protect and restore their legitimate rights recognised by the international terms of reference pertaining to the peace process. As a host country, we, in turn, have rights for the burdens we have shouldered.” Continue Reading »

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Feb 09 2014

Jordan skeptical of US-led peace plan

Published by under Articles,Jordan

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Jordan, which shares the longest border with the Palestinian occupied territories and hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees, is feeling the pressure of a possible US-led breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The Jordanian government has been sending mixed signals lately in regard to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace mission. On the one hand, Jordan is keen to be involved in the bilateral peace talks if for no other reason than to directly plead its own national interests. On the other hand, as Jordanian Palestinian columnist Orrayb Rantawi has made clear, there is no way that the framework agreement will meet the minimum expectations of the Jordanian people.

In a column published in the daily ad-Dustour, Rantawi concluded with the following: “No one can claim that Kerry’s ideas and plan meet Jordanian interests and positions, and it will be impossible to bridge this gap or to expect Kerry to extract from the Israelis any further concessions.” Rantawi assesses that Jordan is facing a moment of choice of either accepting the plan with reservations under the guise of “this is the best we can do” or rejecting it and taking responsibility for the consequences. Continue Reading »

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