King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein letter to the Director of the General Intelligence Department, General Ahmad Hosni, was far from a usual document in Jordanian politics. In fact, the King’s letter constitutes a landmark political and historical document that reflects the new vision for Jordanian institution building at the turn of Jordan’s Centennial celebrations.
The letter, which has been read and understood differently by various analysts, who sometimes disregard the context and the implications of the document, followed earlier directives by the King to start an overhaul of political legislation and administrative performance.
The timing of the letter sets the vision for reforming the state as Jordan moves into its second centennial with the engines of political and administrative reform driving the vision. While efforts and calls for such reforms are not new, the tools employed are marking a new approach.
Such a vision includes a priori the security establishment, starting with the restructuring of the Armed Forces a few years ago, to better address the new security threats the Kingdom faces.
The General Intelligence Department has been historically one of the most prestigious state institutions with a regional and international reputation for professionalism and effectiveness. The GID had to work under increasingly difficult regional conditions with serious spillover on Jordan’s politics and economy.
The past two decades were no exception to Jordan’s history of dodging crises, with the threat of terrorism, failing states, refugees, extremism and proxy wars raging on its borders.
Jordan’s General Intelligence Department was a cornerstone in facing much of these challenges, along other Jordanian security and civilian institutions, albeit with often overlapping roles. This role addressed multiple threats both internal and external including domestic challenges related to corruption, money laundering, and cybercrimes.
There is increasing recognition that crossing over the thin lines of the complex interactions of today’s landscapes of business, investment, finance, extremism, terrorism, and democracy can be challenging to the most complex organizations.Therefore, preparing Jordan’s institutions to the need of ever-increasing sophistication and specialization becomes imperative to the success of structural reforms.
The King’s letter directly addressed General Ahmad Husni, but the message of the letter addresses the general spectrum of Jordanian officials and institutions: Gear up and stop outsourcing responsibilities (as the slow pace of institutional reform is, sometimes, attributed to the interference from security institutions).
More specialized and capable institutions, as well as ability of officials to take on bolder and more responsible tasks and decisions on their own behalf is key to the future of administrative reform.
Such a message may also serve to accelerate the expansion of the Kingdom’s political reforms by empowering activists and political parties should they read the message responsibly and stand up to the moment.