Friday, August 24, 2007

Reform?

A well-respected hard working professional is on his way to work in the morning when a car pulls up in front of him and he is forced to stop. Three men get out of the car in front of him, walk back to his car, address him by name and tell him to come with them. They are taking him to the 'mukhabarat' (intelligence bureau) for questioning. As he had several important appointments at his office that morning his secretary soon starts calling his home asking of his wherabouts. Neither of his cell phones are working. The family begins to check with friends to ask if they have seen him. When he doesn't show up to lunch in his punctual fashion his family gets increasingly concerned. Eventually they are checking with the police, physically checking in restaurants, hotels, and in hospitals to see if they can find him. In the late afternoon his frantic wife finely receives a telephone call from him and he arrives home having been held at the intelligence bureau all day for questioning.

Does this sound like something that happens in Russia or some repressive Arab regime? Unfortunately, this happened in Amman a few days ago. I simply can't understand why the 'mukhabarat' has to resort to these 'gestapo' tactics. I am sure the said gentleman, who has nothing to hide, would have gone to the 'mukhabarat' quite peacefully on his own had they just called him up and said they would like to ask him a few questions.

Rami Khoury's recent article (Aug. 15, 2007) about reform never rang more true. In it he writes: 'Reforming prevailing political, economic, security and administrative systems in the Arab world is a critical prerequisite for any hopes for stability, prosperity and a normal life for the majority of citizens.....Jordan's track record is important because its leadership has trumpeted reform as a major goal and achievement, it has made impressive progress in some areas, yet is has suffered serious shortcoming in others' ...................z

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