Bashar Assad is in no position to criticise Jordan

Sunday 30/04/2017
Wrong target. A woman holds a sign during a demonstration across the street from UN headquarters in New York. (AFP)

The smear campaign against Jordan in the Russian media has been intriguing. The author of the campaign is none other than Syrian President Bashar Assad. He called Jordan a “non-state” and a mere vassal of the United States.
I guess for the Jordanian king­dom to qualify as a state in the eyes of the Syrian dictator, it must first cleanse itself based on a sectarian basis. It might not endear the king to Assad that Jordanian authorities do not intend to redistribute the kingdom’s population by religion or sect or race and that the Hashemite kingdom is offering refuge to about 1.5 million Syrian citizens fleeing Assad’s barbaric regime.
Regardless of Assad’s opinions, Jordan is an autonomous kingdom with functioning state institutions. King Abdullah II replaced his late father, King Hussein, in 1999 and there was no need to tinker with the constitution or to put down conspiracies of any kind.
There are real institutions in the Hashemite kingdom and they did their job when King Hussein decided to replace his brother Has­san with his eldest son, Abdullah, as crown prince. Prince Hassan had been appointed crown prince at a time when Prince Abdullah was young and there had been multiple assassination attempts against the sitting king, including the 1960 bombing of the Jordanian Prime Ministry.
The target of that bombing was King Hussein, who was supposed to be at the ministry that day. Instead, Prime Minister Hazza’ al- Majali and many Jordanian officials died in the attack. It was later re­vealed that the Syrian intelligence services, headed by Abdul Hamid al-Sarraj, were behind the terrorist act and that the objective was to destabilise the kingdom.
Destabilising Jordan has been the target of the Syrian regime ever since the Ba’ath Party took power in 1963 followed by the minority dictatorship of the Assad clan.

In Jordan, King Abdullah II peacefully replaced his father and focused on the needs of his people. In Syria in 2000, Bashar Assad replaced his father who had turned the Syrian Arab Republic into “Al- Assad’s Syria”. Statues of Hafez As­sad mushroomed all over Syria and the population cowered in terror.
In Jordan, King Hussein had refused to allow even a single statue of himself. The Am­man Municipality offered one as a surprise gift but King Hussein ordered the statue be placed in one of the royal palaces and left Amman free of his effigies.
Thanks to skilful tinker­ing with the Syrian con­stitution, Bashar Assad “inherited” Syria from his father. At the beginning, Bashar Assad had excellent relations with King Abdullah II. They even got along on a personal level.
However, the Jordanian monarch quickly discovered the strong bonds between Assad and Iran. He also became aware of the strong influence of Hezbollah in Syria. Assad had laid the founda­tions for a permanent Iranian pres­ence in Syria. Little did he imagine then the dangers of such a strategy to Syria and to the region.
The Syrian dictator should have taken a long look at himself before speaking ill of a neighbouring country. He could have engaged in a simple compare-and-contrast exercise. Jordan is a truly inde­pendent country. It has a modern constitution and regular elections. It is taking serious steps to improve the economy and education and, above all, it has excellent relations with the Gulf countries, the United States, Russia and Europe.

No need to look at Syria with respect to all of that. Let us not even compare per person income. Syria is rich with natural resources, far richer than Jordan. Is it normal then that per person income in Jordan is much higher than in Syria? Most importantly, someone whose country is divided into five zones of foreign influence should not have the arrogance to give lessons in patriotism and sovereignty.
Unlike Assad’s Syria, Jordan has refused to live under foreign tutelage. King Abdullah’s name will be associated with success while Bashar Assad’s will be forever tied to Syria’s destruction. In all events associated with the “Arab spring,” only one Jordanian citizen died — and of a heart attack.
In Syria, however, and since March 2011, half a million Syr­ians have perished and entire neighbourhoods and villages have been erased from exist­ence. There are more than 10 million Syrian refugees and yet some people have the gumption to give lessons in patriotism.
Bashar Assad should have chosen a different target than Jordan for his smear campaign. The presi­dent of a rogue minority regime cannot compare to a true king with deep historical roots inside and outside Jordan.