The Jordanian state, yet again, has made the error of making decisions behind the scenes, indifferent with regard to the general public. This reflects the lack of attention decision makers have to public opinion and how it is formed. Despite the scope of Jordan’s official media outlets (and even private ones) in decision-making, a system in which those at the command center generally get what they want from the media outlets, it turned out beyond any shadow of a doubt that public opinion is not “in the pocket,” as organizers of the state had believed. From the Ajloun gold rush* controversy to the recent business with the Hashemite flag and reversed shemagh**, it has been clear that the frequent lack of information that is provided about initiatives or in explanation of current events and issues, especially prior to their occurrence, does not mean that public opinion will be nonexistent. Rather, several interpretations and analyses may emerge, accompanied by delays and confusion on the part of the state in providing clear and convincing explanations for certain actions. This hesitation on behalf of the state has lead in these matters to the authorities having to put an end to the rumors and the outpouring of gossip on websites and community communication sites. All information related to war and the preparedness of the state to face security challenges should remain a secret affair in the technical aspects, and may be not fully open to the people, but it is the right of citizens to participate in other decision making, and this is also in the interest of the authorities because it strengthens the internal front, protecting it from penetration and weakening. Some officials believe that popular participation in those affairs would undermine them and weaken their ability to undertake independent measures freely. Yet, in this area it is not enough for the Prime Minister to belatedly meet with editors and columnists to clue them in to what is happening. A spokesman for the previous governments organized a weekly briefing in which to address the latest developments, and it provided rich informational material which was sufficient to prevent rumors by replying to any questions having to deal with the public. We may be in need of such a news conference as the primary vehicle to follow developments and put an end to the speculation that comes as a result of a lack of information, and results in a lack of regard for the citizen. It could be a vehicle for gaining absolute support. This is not confined to the controversy surrounding the flag and the shemagh, but applies as well to the current internal and external security situation. The latest example of which was participating in the Yemen war without a minimum of internal debate, even beneath the dome of parliament. There may be support for Jordan’s participation in the coalition against Daesh and the Houthis, but it should not come automatically, without facing any change or amendment, and the state should be conscious of the need to continue to earn the compliance of the people with its decisions. The military and security situation in Jordan and the region is hypersensitive and it is understood that there is concern regarding errors or miscalculations. However, informing the public and ensuring its participation prior to making decisions which affect it is the basis of good governance, especially under difficult circumstances. Daoud Kuttab is the Director General of the Community Media Network and the founder of a number of television and radio stations in Palestine, Jordan and the Arab world. The Arabic of this op-ed article appeared on June 19, 2015. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of AmmanNet. Translator's Notes: *This refers to an event that occurred in Autumn 2014 in which the Jordanian military began digging in the Ajloun governorate. They were uncovering Israeli spy equipment left from the 1967 war, however their failure to inform the public of this ahead of time led to the rumor that they had uncovered gold. Jordanians began digging for treasure in earnest, leading to a slew of issues which may have been avoided if adequate information had been provided. **On June 9, 2015 a ceremony was held in honor of the coronation anniversary of King Abdullah II, as well as the anniversary of the Arab Revolt and Army Day. At the ceremony, the Hashemite flag was raised, instead of the Jordanian national flag, and the military personnel in attendance wore their shemagh (traditional red and white checkered head scarves, also known as kufiya) in a reversed manner. Failure to explain these actions to the public led to the circulation of numerous rumors regarding the potential symbolism behind these acts. Translated by Julia Norris
التحالف الوطني لمجابهة صفقة القرن، يطالبون بإلغاء معاهدة وادي عربة للسلام مع الجانب الإسرائيلي، في الذكرى الخامسة والعشرين على توقيعها.