The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan – a small, arid swath of land that its Western-educated monarch jokes is “between Iraq and a hard place” – teems with corruption. Most Jordanians often have no choice but to pay bribes for public services. Members of the government and the royal family regularly siphon money from public contracts and foreign aid projects. And the Kingdom’s nepotistic political system does little to hold prominent politicians and businessmen accountable when they leverage their ties to the royal family to steal disproportionate amounts of resources or redirect government funds. Corruption, it seems, crowns the Kingdom.
It is unsurprising, then, that claims of corruption permeated news of the recent rift between King Abdullah II and his half-brother, Prince Hamzah. After Prince Hamzah’s purported involvement with a conspiracy to undermine Jordan’s national security and destabilize the existing political regime led to his house arrest, he released a video claiming that his unjust detention was for speaking out against government corruption.
Although the international media has covered the dynamics of the royal family and the possibilities of a Jordanian descent into civil war, little has been written about the ways in which King Abdullah’s government can respond to the accusations of corruption and take back leadership. Given that Prince Hamzah – among others – nearly always couches criticism of the Jordanian government in terms of corruption, such a response is necessary. If the current government wants to signal its seriousness in fighting corruption, it should aggressively pursue an anticorruption agenda with five key elements:Continue reading