Dr. Audeh Quawas

On the 4th of March 2021, the Global Studies Center, “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu has hosted as a special guest, Dr. Audeh B. QUAWAS, Jordanian Senator and Member in the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, and hold an online lecture entitled “Jordan: A Stable and Peaceful Country in a Turbulent Region. A Review of Jordan’s Policy in the Last Decades and Some Future Perspectives”.

The event was moderated by Assoc. Prof. Daniel BUDA, Ph.D., Dean, Faculty of Theology St. Andrei Șaguna, “Lucian Blaga” the University of Sibiu.

Key experts were Assoc. Prof. Silviu NATE, Ph. D., Director, Global Studies Center, “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu, and Flavius CABA-MARIA, President, Middle East Political and Economic Institute.

Dr. Audeh Quawas is a medical doctor and politician. Currently, he holds the second mandate in the Jordanian Parliament as a senator. He studied medicine in Athens. He is a Christian Orthodox Palestinian and a practitioner – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, extending work with refugees in Jordan.

Domestic Situation

Jordan is stable and peaceful among the countries in a turbulent region.

Dr. Audeh Quawas works with refugees as a chairman of the Central Committee of the Department of the Service for Palestinian Refugees in the Middle East Council of Churches, the only ecumenical institution in the region, an independent institution of the World Council of Churches, with divisions in Jordan, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Nazareth, or Gaza, an institution working since 1952, since the occupation of Palestine by Israel.

In Jordan, on March 21st, there will be the celebration of the 100 years anniversary of the country created by the grandfather of the current King Abdullah bin Hussein, initially as part of an Arabian Emirate. At that time, there were no state entities, only emirates.

Jordan came out of what was called “the fertile crescent”, being part of the same state as Lebanon and Syria – the division happened with the Sykes – Picot Agreement from 1916 (the Asia Minor Agreement). That part of the Ottoman Empire was divided between Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Jordan.

Since 1921, the grandfather of King Abdullah I had the mandate to unite all Arabs in the region through a revolution regarding ethics and education; ever since, the country is ruled by the Hashemite family, who consider themselves as the successors of prophet Mohamed ( a 3rd generation), in charge of preserving any Islamic culture in the region.

Jordan formed itself as a democratic parliamentary regime.

Following the historical aspects, the old king was succeeded by his eldest son, Hussein.

Among other characteristics, the country is the only religious country within the region to wand the Greek Orthodox church, which is the only one and strongest working in Jordan and recognized by law.

After the war with Israel from 1947, the Palestinian refugees came to Jordan because of their former territorial connection. From 1948 to 1967, Jordan had good development and relation with the Palestinians exiled in the West Bank and Jerusalem and with those who became refugees in Jordan.

Jordan was the only country to give the right to nationality to the refugees; those who became refugees in 1948, as is the case of Dr. Quawas’ family, have the same rights as the Jordanians, such as the right to candidate and be elected, etc., similar to any national from Jordan.

In 1967, the problems started when Israel occupied the entire West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, fulfilling the objectives of Israel, to expand on a whole territory, according to religious prophecies, thus creating problems even with the Christian Palestinians. Also, the problems became bigger for Jordan due to the refugees who were not Jordanian and given status, for example, those from the West Bank, and the refugees who were not Jordanians and had no rights, affecting the stability of the Jordanian government. Furthermore, Jordan always had openness in the foreign policy and the relations with other countries, becoming also the second country, after Anwar Sadat’s Egypt that signed a peace agreement with Israel.

In 1973, there were unrests in Jordan, similar to a civil war, when the terrorist organization Black September rose, but it was subsequently stopped by the government and the Jordanian army; this was an organization formed by the Palestinians rejected by the system, who believed that the way to Jerusalem goes through Amman.

After that, a period of transparency started, through the appointment of Palestinian ministers and the support given to candidates for elections from among the Palestinians with Jordanian nationality.

From 1973 to 1989, there was a lot of interference from the Palestinian organizations, which made it necessary to have a military law imposed, and led to the suspension of the parliament and of the government in Jordan.

In 1989, a social uprising of Jordanians was said to have been programmed since it helped the Hashemites. This led to the organization of the first parliamentary elections after 19 years, leading to the 11th Jordanian Parliament, elected through free democratic elections, with no interference, with a number of 80 members, out of which 24 were affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. This Parliament approved a peace treaty with Israel in 1990.

The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is different from any similar organization around the world because they do not believe in force and changing regime with the help of the army intervention; they believe in democratic, free changes, however according to the precepts of Islamic law for governance.

The elections continued with the election of the Senate, whose members are being nominated directly by the King, being part of the Parliament; the Senate comprises a number of 40 seats.

In the legislative process, the government makes a law, which is being sent to the elected Parliament that is meant to discuss it and to amend it, before being sent for the final approval in the Senate, having the right to change it – the changes mean the return within the Parliament, which can approve the changes and resend it to the Senate and further to the king for proclamation. If the changes are not agreed upon, there will be a joint meeting to discuss the changes and approve them by at least two-thirds of total parliamentarians.

Nowadays, there are 135 members of Parliament in the first room and 65 members in the second one, the Senate.

The current king, King Abdullah II, is more open, due to his European and American upbringing; in 2012, he started promoting the ideas of a parliamentary government, with the PM appointed by the king and able to form his government with existent parliamentarians or outside politicians; only the first room of the Parliament can give a confidence vote to any newly established government.

In 2007, there was an intervention from the intelligence services within the election procedure, which led to the election of 80 parliamentarians from their ranks; this 15th Parliament did not complete its mandate because the king has the right to end the mandate, a situation which happened at that time. The situation is currently stable and Jordan is considered to be the safest country in the Arab world.

The ingredient for this is the combination of the Brotherhood, formed by Palestinians and Jordanians and governmental elements. In other countries, it does not happen like that. In Jordan, they cannot stand against the regime as a counter-regime. All of them are accusing the regime, but they are respecting the Constitution, which is one of the main things, making them different than the others, while they have never used force, even in the uprising from 1989. Dr. Quawas assumes that they recognize the relation between the Hashemites and the prophet Mohamed.

Rumor has it that Hassan, the brother of King Hussein, who was a pillar in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, was meant to be a king, and two weeks before the king died, he named his son Abdullah II as his successor, at that time being underage, thus he ruled with the help of a Committee for two years. Beforehand, the former King named his young brother as a successor in the wake of his marriage with a Christian woman and never gave her the name, only recognized her as a princess, because the Constitution allowed only for heirs of Muslim motherhood to be named successors. Even though his brother was very present politically, the King changed the successor following the change of the Constitution, which eliminated the Muslim mother from the prerogatives.

The country had always had a strong policy and the legitimization of the ruling family comes from their heritage line.

Foreign Policy Dimensions

Jordan has an excellent relationship with the EU, especially since the EU is supporting the two-state solution in the Israeli – Palestine conflict. The Jordanian – Israeli agreement took into account issues like access to water, sea, and land. There is no clear border area, it seems more like a passage area.

Economically, the EU is supporting Jordan and there are many on-going projects, also with the Council of Churches, in the field of development. Dr. Quawas is the coordinator of five schools in the West Bank, built with the support of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Jordan is influenced by all turbulences around the country: Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, etc. As such, Jordan has to put a lot of effort to maintain its security and its borders and inside borders from the infiltration of terrorists and even individual radicalized Jordanians. More often, there are incidents coming from Syria.

The Jordanian intelligence service is one of the best in the region and their cooperation and intelligence sharing with European, American, Russian, or even Israeli services is at high standards.

The Palestinian leadership projections are the most important to be followed.

However, regarding the Biden administration, external forces cannot do much until the Palestinians do not solve their internal issues with the leadership. The Palestinian Liberation Movement has lost its track. Fatah and Hamas are not qualified to establish the state.

Even though Dr. Quawas was travelling to Jerusalem and West Bank twice per month before the pandemic, he thinks that the Palestinians in those areas are not interested in the fate of the Christian Palestinians. Also, in general, people are not interested in the fate of Christian Palestinians.

The Arabs are split due to PM Netanyahu. Things might change after the Israeli elections. According to the information in hand, for the moment, the flights and other commercial ties between the countries of the Abraham Accords are suspended.

Also, even though the relations between Egypt or Jordan and Israel are well-defined on paper, however, in reality, there has been no exchange in the education or medical fields. Moreover, Jordanians will not accept any normalization deal similar to the Abraham Accords with Israel, until the Palestinian issue is not solved.

The Muslim Brotherhood applied to become a party and is supported by the Liberal Islamic Party. However, they have yet to reach a level where they could impose their beliefs on others, be it Muslim, or be it other beliefs. As a strong social organization, they helped and penetrated different social layers, with the help of the government.

The Jordanian Medical Association had been in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood for more than 30 years. Why? The money of the association comes from the organization.

In regards to the Syrians, some of the refugees (out of a total of 1.2 mils.) are near the 13 Palestinian camps from Jordan.

In Dr. Quawas’ opinion, King Abdullah will not accept to be a mediator in the Gulf issue because it might lead to a loss of credibility from his side. He does not support the policies of the Gulf States. Saudi Arabia has a different approach to Israel than the rest of the states which concluded the agreements with Israel. If there is an agreement on this matter, the King might advocate for the Saudi regime, however, for the Emirati regime, things stand differently. They are trying to interfere in issues that are far away from their region and for which they have nothing to do with, for example accommodating the Palestinian regime, the Yemeni, or the Ethiopian issues. They are trying to give the impression that with the help of their money, they can influence the policies of other countries.

The Iraqi Shia are present in Jordan, but up to this point, there was no permission in Jordan to build a Shia mosque. Moreover, the Iraqi Shia in Jordan are actually involved in the economic field, has helped the rise of the economic system through their investments, opening factories, mainly at the border with Syria, to help the Syrians, because their own factories are closed.

Jordan is playing an active role in the region and in conflicts, while for the Israel and Palestine problem, it pleads for a two-state solution. However, Jordan prefers to share the responsibility with Egypt. Jordan is a catalyst for all the Arabs and foreigners.

Jordan is given credibility, especially since it has a strong position with regard to money laundering and corruption. It talked very strictly against those issues, while Israel and UAE are very known regionally for being money laundering destinations.

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