DID YOU KNOW?
Before arriving in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, I did a little research and had a few expectations.
I knew that relationships between men and women were different than what I had experienced in the United States. I also knew that the kingdom of Jordan is home to a significant number of refugees. I was aware that Jordan is a Muslim country. I also knew that Jordan is a nuclear free zone.
However, I did not know that Jordan’s refugee population almost surpasses its native population.
I did not know that Jordan is a economically dependent country. This means the kingdom of Jordan is dependent on external aid to function properly. The foreign aid that the kingdom receives helps fund the refugee camps, education, and healthcare.
I was unaware that Jordan was suffering from underemployment and inflation, or that as it stands Jordan is a receiver of IMF loans which are potentially adding further strain on the economy.
ITS HARD TO BELIEVE….
So far my geopolitics courses have focused on Jordan as a buffer state and examining the Jordanian economy. I’m still grasping that I’m living in a country with water scarcity and no resources of its own to stimulate economic growth.
What a time to be in Jordan
Amidst the aforementioned factors, there are a few others that make this time in Jordan interesting:
- The Deal of the Century: the details off the deal are still unclear. However it is expected to resolve the the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Though a resolution is in the works, is already anticipated to be unfavorable toward Palestinians.
- UNRWA Budget Cuts: I mentioned that I didn’t know how economically dependent Jordan is on foreign aid. I knew that the kingdom of Jordan received a lot of aid, just as the state receives a lot of refugees. In this state of economic dependency, Jordan seems to be in a position that is easily manipulated. This is exhibited by the budget cuts to the UN Relief Works Agency that helps Palestinian refugees, and USAid in Gaza. It is expected that these cuts are being used as leverage to encourage peace talks.
- Jerusalem the Capital City: though it may have been declared in December of 2017, US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city is something that still shakes people in the region. It is perceived as a pro-Israel move and a complete disregard toward Palestinian quest for statehood.
- Conflict: At this very moment the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan sits between four very active and potentially violent conflicts:
- Syrian War
- Saudi Arabia and Yemeni Conflict
- Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
- Iranian Expansionism and Iraq’s instability
At the heart of it all there is Jordan.
It’s hard to believe that of all times I could be in this region I am here now. Though this region has been plagued by conflict for years, it brings a different perspective to how conflict ought to be viewed in other parts of the world. Reading news articles, or watching videos of conflict, are not true representations of daily life.
Prior to coming here, people either asked me if it was safe to come here or warned me to be safe. I imagine the constant news reports of conflict in this region and the prevalent Islamophobic sentiments advertised within the US have tainted general understanding of the Middle East.
This past week I sat with members of the Jordanian Parliament. A member of the parliament requested that as Americans we take what we have seen as a testimony that the people here are not who the news says they are. To tell people that Islamophobia is not something people should identify this country with.
As I experienced this and balanced it against my increasing knowledge about the country, I began to think: What a time to be alive and in Jordan.