Letter to Ali Abul Ragheb on the national interest

From King Abdallah II of Jordan
To Ali Abul Ragheb
RE: The national interest
30 October 2002
Translated from Arabic

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Your Excellency Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb,

I send you a genuine Jordanian Hashemite greeting.

Conditions in our region, coupled with challenges dictated by the situation in the world around us, have made it incumbent upon us to focus most of our official and popular efforts on issues pertaining to our people and the priorities and interests of our homeland.

Jordan First was initially our plan to unite Jordanians in their sense of national belonging, pride in their Arab nation and Islamic religion, in an atmosphere of freedom, democracy, pluralism, tolerance and social justice.

Hence, it was essential to clarify the conviction that Jordan First is more than a slogan. It is, indeed, a national canon we want to consecrate as a course of action and a daily practice among all Jordanian men and women. This principle targets every Jordanian who believes in this homeland as a refuge, who strives in his/her pursuit to realise him/herself through his/her homeland, not through external allegiances, whatever their aims or objectives.

Jordan is proud of its Islamic identity and Arab allegiance. It will indefatigably strive to protect the rights and interests of the nation, foster Arab unity, construction and solidarity, and adhere to the tolerant tenets of Islam. Nobody should take the “Jordan First” call as a bid for introversion, but rather as a deep conviction that Jordan's economic and political strength, as well as its social security, are prerequisites that need to be safeguarded in order to strengthen our Arab surroundings and support our Arab brethren.

In order to be successfully applied, Jordan First will have to depict a clear state of mind and an act of voluntarism. It is not a reaction that pacifies the conscience of those who simply echo the slogan. The fundamental objective is to stimulate the Jordanian citizen's positive energies and to cause him or her to review his/her priorities, with a view to creating the certitude that his/her pursuit, effort, cause, ambitions, objectives and aspirations all start with Jordan First.

Jordan First must be a common denominator for all Jordanian men and women, whatever their origin and irrespective of any diversities in their attitudes, views, creeds, beliefs and races. This concept needs to be embedded as a reality through conscious action, starting with the family, school, university, and youth centres.

On the basis of this act of volition, and in the midst of shuffled priorities that sway the clarity of our thinking and the efficiency of our performance, we are in need of a central idea and attitude of patriotism. This will spark our thinking and practices and measure our performance. A successful healthy society is an aggregation of groups or individuals who together constitute the society's unity and social fabric.

To achieve this, Jordan First must be adopted as a plan of action and a catalyst to unite society. This slogan is meant for Jordanian men and women, in villages and desert encampments, in cities and refugee camps. It is also meant for students in their schools and universities; for soldiers who guard the homeland; for intellectuals, politicians, trade unionists and partisans, be they Islamists, nationalists or centrists. It should be independent of all political, religious and racial alignments. We have to pursue a social contract that, through daily practice, establishes our priorities, starting with this “first priority.”

The need for such a plan is unarguable and cannot brook delay or improvisation. We have got to immunise Jordan First against negativism, interpretations that incriminate it, ignorantly or maliciously, to deprive Jordan First of its pure and sublime essence and lend it racist overtones.

In essence, human nature strives to protect itself and advance its standard of living. Hence, we have to launch the Jordan First slogan initially on a solid economic and social ground, without falling into the trap of contradictory political clichés. If we establish Jordan First on a ground of economic and social realities and achieve stability and prosperity, and, consequently, national reconciliation, we will finally arrive at the desired political lucidity, spontaneously and without fabrication.

As we see it, our people give credence to these convictions, but they cannot be transformed into central realities without a review of some of the arguments put forward by representatives of various groups, political parties and trade unions. This review should be conducted in such a manner as to make the interests of Jordan, as far as all Jordanians are concerned, supersede any other interests or issues. The opposition should be in opposition of the government's policies, not the approach and fixed premises of the state. The opposition's role is to serve the causes and interests of our Jordanian people and to strive to build Jordanian capacities, before defending other interests and objectives. The Jordanian press should devote its largest spaces to addressing internal Jordanian affairs, as well as the citizens' concerns and issues, before getting involved in external issues.

Even though this conviction may sound axiomatic, it still requires from all of us diligent action and clear vision to carry our message across to all the educational, academic and social segments of our people, in both the private and public sectors. Adopting "Jordan First" requires us to face all the negative probabilities and to mobilise all the positive capabilities of our civil society. This will elevate the civil society above all pettiness, avoid all discord by being unified, and transform differences into a civilised and humanitarian wealth.

For all the above arguments, and for the sake of Jordan First, we see a need to establish, back, support, and mandate a national body to look for ways and mechanisms to deliver the Jordan First message and confirm this idea in the daily practice of our educational, economic, social and developmental affairs. The body shall consist of the following personalities:

His Eminence Sheikh Izzidine Al-Khatib Tamimi
Mr. Marwan Dudin
Dr. Abdullah Ensour
Dr. Rajai Dajani
Mr. Said Bino
Mr. Sameer Habashneh
Mr. Abdul Karim Dughmi
Mr. Ayman Majali
Mr. Saleh Qallab
Mr. Abdul Rahim Ukour
Dr. Bassem Awadallah
Dr. Ruwaida Maayta
Mr. Saad Hayel Srour
Mr. Mamdouh Abbadi
Mr. Assem Ghosheh
Mrs. Subhiyyah Maani
Dr. Sima Bahous
Dr. Muhammad Masalha
Mr. Amjad Adhaileh
Dr. Mustafa Hamarneh
Mr. Sabih Masri
Mr. Mahmoud Kharabsheh
Dr. Saad Hijazi
Mr. Bassem Salem
Mr. Uraib Rantawi
Mrs. Suhair Ali
Mrs. Rana Sabbagh
Mr. Ghazi Abu Jneib Fayez
Dr. Hussein Touqan
Dr. Wajeeh Uweiss
Mr. Ahmad Salameh

This body shall initially complete its mandate during a first stage. Other bodies and committees shall be formed at later stages to follow up on this matter in such a manner as to befit our vision for Jordan in the future.

Peace, God's mercy and His blessings upon you,

Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Amman, 29 October 2002