Jordan embarks on reform path in ‘tough neighbourhood’ — PM

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz has said that Jordan’s problems emanate from its “tough neighbourhood”, as refugees constitute 20 per cent of the Kingdom’s population, in addition to bearing the brunt of closed borders, regional conflicts and high unemployment rates.

In an interview with the New York-based Bloomberg News aired on Wednesday, the premier said Jordan has proven to be a resilient state, as, in a London conference last year, it committed to a matrix of reforms over five years that have already started paying off (see full text of interview).

He noted that Jordan’s exports went up by around 9 per cent in 2019, the first year to implement the reform measures.

On the refugee crisis, Razzaz said: “We hope that we don’t have to deal with it by ourselves, this is not a crisis created by Jordan and we did what’s right.”

The PM said that Jordan opened its borders to women and children and accommodated 1.3 million refugees in schools, health centres, camps and outside camps. The cost of this is around 2.4 billion per year.

Razzaz also noted that many Gulf countries have their own challenges and problems, and they are very supportive of Jordan, especially in offering several grant projects, and he expressed hope that allies will come from the Gulf and invest in large-scale projects of water, energy and public transport.

On the Palestinian issue, Razzaz affirmed that His Majesty King Abdullah led the efforts and reminded the world that the origin, the core of all of the problems are due to a lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front without a two-state solution.

On the region’s security concerns, the premier added that both the region and the world need to invest in the peace and security and bring all parties together to the table.

“I think we have to realise that even if we think we won the battle with ISIS, this is not a battle. This is a war. It used to be Al Qaeda. Now it’s ISIS and there is going to be version 3 and version 4. Vacuum is dangerous,” he said.

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