Speech by His Majesty King Abdullah II at the Graduation Ceremony of the 26th Class of Muta University's Military Wing
June 16, 2013
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am delighted to join you on this blessed day to celebrate the graduation of this group of valiant sons of our homeland, as they join the fellowship of honour, courage and dedication in our armed forces and security services. Allow me to congratulate and bless the brave graduates, their families and this University on this great achievement.
I am also pleased to be among my family of loyal Jordanians as they celebrate a number of national occasions dear to the hearts of us all: Independence Day; the anniversary of the Great Arab Revolt that freed the nation’s will and epitomised the greatest of principles and noblest of values; Army Day - the Arab Army, symbol of sovereignty, national dignity and defence of the nation, its dignity and future; and the Accession to the Throne, when I vowed, as Al Hussein - may his soul rest in peace – consecrated me, to serve you and this beloved country. Many happy returns and God’s blessings.
We meet today amidst many challenges that citizens have been concerned about, and perhaps have also wondered about how they should be dealt with and correctly handled.
Let us start by identifying the most important of these challenges and distinguish between domestic challenges, solution to which is in our hands, and challenges that were imposed on us as a result of regional circumstances and global crises. These should be wisely and responsibly managed within the context of the realities and regional and global circumstances imposed on us on the ground and within our limited capabilities.
Among the domestic challenges, for example, are attempts by some to doubt the level of success on the political reform path because of lack of understanding or correct interpretation of the concerns, and because of the debate and sparring between political, ideological and partisan currents that accompanied the democratisation process. This is natural and expected, and it is part of any change process across the world. It is also a healthy phenomenon and necessary to consolidate the culture of constructive democratic dialogue and effective political action.
The important matter here is that we continue this process and build on it without fear or hesitation, for the will for positive change exists and is solid, and we have national institutions that are capable of translating this change into reality based on a clear roadmap and the complementarity of roles among all components in our political system.
The political reform roadmap is clear: It is the accomplishment of democratic and reform milestones necessary to reach an advanced level of parliamentary government over successive parliamentary cycles, based on a parliamentary, partisan and programme-based majority in tandem with a parliamentary minority that serves as constructive opposition and shadow government in the Lower House, proposing alternative programmes and policies, so that the Lower House’s role in policy and decision-making, in addition to its monitoring and legislative roles, is consolidated.
Reaching such an advanced stage requires further political maturity, institutionalisation of partisan work and development of mechanisms governing parliamentary work in a manner that promotes the institutionalisation of parliamentary blocs through the continuous development of the political parties and elections laws through successive election cycles, making them more representative and conducive to parliamentary governments. All this takes place in the context of our parliamentary, monarchy system that is hereditary based on the Constitution.
This reform approach requires a civil service that enjoys the highest degree of professionalism and competence and that is not susceptible to political influences and partisan bias. Rather, it should rely on merit, professionalism and neutrality through a continuous and comprehensive white revolution and strengthening of the national integrity system.
The role of the Monarchy will develop hand-in-hand with the realisation of these reform milestones, and will focus on protecting the values of democracy, pluralism, political participation and the unity of the national social fabric. It will also empower national institutions to take on decision-making responsibilities. We will continue to deepen this approach, and I will remain the guarantor of the reform path.
What’s important is that everyone realises that the goal of reform is to change citizens’ lives for the better, and that the success of the reform process depends on our faith in it, our belief in its importance to our future and in the need to work in a team spirit to guarantee its success despite all the obstacles that we will face.
Also among the domestic challenges are the recently witnessed cases of violence, in our society in general and in some of our universities, which claimed the lives of some of our sons - may God Almighty rest their souls and grant solace to their bereaved families. The acts of violence that claimed lives and violated public and private property are utterly unacceptable, inexcusable and alien to our values, customs and culture. We cannot keep silent on this issue.
This does not belong in Jordanian society, nor the Jordanian state. We cannot accept that our youth’s future be hostage to the phenomenon of violence because their future is Jordan’s future. The question, my brothers and sisters, is: Are these isolated, individual cases or are they part of a phenomenon that has its causes and much deeper roots? What are the reasons that lead to violence and to falling back into sub-identities?
The feeling of lack of justice and equal opportunities leads to frustration, a sense of injustice and subsequently violence. On the other hand, laxity in enforcing the law and public order on all, or lack of fairness and equality in applying the law leads to loss of confidence in state institutions and to resorting to violence until a citizen takes the law in his own hands or encroaches on the rights of others. The solution does not lie in merely treating those incidents or punishing those who initiated them. The solution lies in treating the phenomenon from its roots: Ensuring a just distribution of developmental gains among all governorates, tackling the issues of poverty and unemployment, consolidating good governance, developing economic and social policies in partnership with the grassroots, applying the law on all without complacency, hesitation or favouritism. All this strengthens citizens’ trust in state institutions, respect for the law and confidence that no one will abuse their rights and dignity.
The state and its institutions are the party mandated to apply the law and preserve public order and peoples’ rights and property. No party has the right to think that it is above the law, and I am confident that every Jordanian citizen supports every institution concerned with applying the law, if he/she feels that it is implemented justly and with equality and transparency.
Some claim that the reasons behind the displays of violence are tribal culture or structure. No, my fellow Jordanians. Our culture and authentic tribal structure does not accept violence. We are all sons and daughters of tribes from various backgrounds and origins, whether the Badia, villages, cities or refugee camps. This is the most important source of our strength, national unity and our society’s security and stability. There was never a day when tribe and family were reason for chaos, violence or breaking the law, as some who have no knowledge of the true definition of tribe and nature of tribal society claim.
On the contrary, the tribe contributed in a major way to the foundation of the modern Jordanian state - a state of institutions and law. The tribe has always been and will remain a symbol of valour, authentic values, allegiance and the safeguard of security, stability and the rule of law. And I, Abdullah ibn Al Hussein, take pride in the Jordanian tribes because they are my family and my larger tribe.
A few tried to fish in murky waters, spread chaos and exploit the atmosphere of openness and freedom. They believe that the flexibility, wisdom and patience that state institutions adopted in the previous phase were a form of weakness. No, my fellow Jordanians. Jordan is strong and capable of protecting the lives and assets of its citizens, and is also capable of imposing the rule of law at any moment. No individual is stronger than the state. We are a civilised country, founded on the principles of justice, rule of law and respect for citizens’ freedom and dignity.
As for regional challenges, the most important being the crisis in brotherly Syria, they have imposed on us some harsh realities, but these are harsher still on our Syrian brethren, whose circumstances have forced them to abandon their homes and lands, and flee to neighbouring countries.
We have a moral responsibility towards our Syrian brethren. I thank God Almighty for the blessing of security and stability in our country, which allows us to help our brethren. True, this entails great responsibilities and sacrifices, but Jordan and Jordanians have always measured up to the challenge and supported their brothers in the Arab and Muslim world and beyond. The world and the nations we helped will never forget our noble stances.
On the political level, we are working as hard as we can and in cooperation and coordination with our Arab brothers as well as the international community, including the United States, Russia and European countries, to find a political solution that preserves the unity and stability of Syria and guarantees that Syrian state institutions will look after their citizens, so that the refugees, not only in Jordan but in all neighbouring countries, will be encouraged to return to their country. On the other hand, we are working to secure international financial assistance to cover the costs of hosting the refugees.
In our handling of the Syrian crisis, the first and ultimate goal has been to protect Jordan’s and Jordanians’ interests. Should the world not act and help us adequately address this issue, and should this issue become a threat to our country, then we are capable at any time to take the necessary measures to protect our country and people’s interests. In this context, I would like you to join me in saluting our brave armed forces and security services personnel, who offered the greatest examples of giving, sacrifice and altruism in maintaining the security and stability of our nation and its accomplishments as well as their noble humanitarian message when dealing with our Syrian refugee brothers. They have all our gratitude and appreciation. Many happy returns and God’s blessings.
Concerning the Palestinian issue, the core issue in the region, it remains at the top of our priorities. We will continue to support our Palestinian brethren until they establish their independent state on Palestinian soil, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will also continue to uphold our historical and religious duty, in coordination with our Palestinian brothers and international committees and organisations, to protect Muslim and Christian holy sites, and support the resilience of our brethren by taking advantage of all means available to Jordan.
As for talk of a confederation, which comes up every now and then, it is out of context and premature. This issue will not even be on the table until a fully independent Palestinian state is established, and even then only based on the will of both countries and peoples. Any talk on this issue before that is not in the interest of either the Palestinians or Jordanians. As for talk of “alternative homeland,” naturalisation and “Jordan option,” which we have addressed several times in the past, it is mere illusion. Under no circumstances will Jordan accept a solution to the Palestinian cause at its own expense. This is one of the constants of the Jordanian state that will never change. We need to put an end to those rumours, and God willing this is the last time we talk about this topic.
The challenges facing us are great and require the cooperation of all. Our nation is ready to shoulder the burdens, as long as they are equally distributed amongst all. Our history is witness to the fact that we can accomplish a lot with very little means. Here, I call on all state institutions to cooperate among themselves, and in partnership with the private sector and civil society, to shoulder their responsibilities towards citizens in facing these challenges. Through the cooperation of all, high spirits, loyal work and sense of responsibility we can win over all challenges, as we have won in the past over even greater challenges, and Jordan and Jordanians will remain at the forefront.
Once again, it is with great pride and appreciation that I salute you all, and congratulate our chivalrous graduates.
Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you.