On the eve of the day of readiness to raise the price of electricity in Jordan, the monarch King Abdullah II stopped in Moscow in a visit described by “Al-Quds Al-Arabi” sources as “serious and very important”.
Before the visit, the Jordanian Finance Minister Suleiman Hafez tried hopelessly to send dozens of messages to his Saudi counterpart in the hope of transferring the “grant” that was scheduled to be sent as soon as possible in order to avoid the disturbances that the Jordanian Kingdom was about to face because of raising the prices.
The Saudi slight 30 percent discount grant was ordered by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in favor of the Jordanians. However, when the communications of personalities working in the palace of Jordan have had no answers in the Office of al-Tuwaijri, the most powerful figure in the palace of the Saudi monarch, the Saudi Finance Minister carried out the task of exhausting his Jordanian counterpart and pushed him to insert a decision in the drawers of the government calling for raising the electricity prices by at least 14 percent.
The Saudi Finance Minister, relying on the Jordanian government’s mediators, insisted during the agreement on making the discount grant that remained secret and undeclared as asked by Riyadh go through a series of “unusual” bureaucratic procedures that could harass the Jordanian side, and could even make the Saudi side be in direct touch with sovereign and sensitive Jordanian institutions, and this annoyed the authority decision-makers in Amman.
In detail, the Saudi Finance Ministry said that the discount rate “30 percent” on the oil bill will not be registered directly and that Amman should pay the oil bill fully and then send the remaining to it later. Though Minister Hafiz was surprised with this procedure, but he was obliged to agree on it, yet his Saudi fellow provided another condition represented in the insistence of Riyadh’s Finance Ministry to determine the Jordanian side that would receive the remaining of the discount and this is an unprecedented condition in the old measures of the financial cooperation between the two sides.
The Saudi Ministry of Finance did not stop here, but it indulged in harassing the Jordanian government when it demanded preceding commitments regarding supporting the Syrian refugee camps who have become a burden on the Jordanian Treasury.
Here, it has sent a rare inconvenience bureaucracy message to Amman represented in the insistence of related Saudi authorities to assist the Syrian refugees to direct their financial and in-kind aids directly, through Saudi envoys, or through the Saudi Embassy in Amman. It informed clearly Amman that Saudi Arabia’s aids will not pass through the station of the Jordanian Hashemite Charity board, which is entitled of receiving aid from everywhere in the world.
Yet, the serial of harassment began early nearly a year ago when the Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan Dr. Ziad Fariz was surprised during a meeting with an international mission that Saudi Arabia “do not mind” appending its financial aid to the international action package. The technical meaning of this is clear i.e. that any Saudi dollar allocated to Jordan in the future will be subject to the terms and conditions of the International Fund. This was a completely new and strange step.
Hence, the person in charge of the World Bank mission to Jordan informed Finance Minister Suleiman Hafez about the following: From now on you will not get any dollar but only through us. The Minister was dumbfounded when she added: Including the aids of your Arab brothers.
However, harassment did not stop at this level, but all through the two years of launching the Jordanian street motion, the Saudi aid dried completely despite sending tens of sings of asking for help in all languages. The biggest surprise was when Jordanian decision makers doubted that Washington is behind the sudden Gulf wave that decided to tie any aid to Jordan, including the so-called productive projects.
This also clearly means that payment will be done without the Jordanian government and to productive projects specified by the donor directly in the field.
It was first the Emiratis turn and then the Qataris, and Amman was surprised that Saudi Arabia is also sending a delegation to discuss production projects that could be funded.
The Saudi figures were all the time pretending that there is “corruption” in Jordan and there are non-transparent ways to spend. Therefore, in an extremely internal meeting, the Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Nassour asked a quick question: Since when do our brothers in the Gulf care about transparency to this extent?
In the meantime, the President of the Jordanian Senate Taher Al-Masri visited Qatar and dropped by its Emir asking him the reasons why Doha is leaving Amman alone in such a very difficult economic situation, and the Qatari answer came in this form: You decided to play with Saudi Arabia only, so you have to bear the cost.
Thus, the serial of harassment by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf raised the ire of senior Jordanian officials and at the forefront Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Nossour, who “whispered” in the ears of the chief editors of a newspaper close to the authority suggesting that the unwritten law that prevents completely criticizing Saudi Arabia for any reason in Jordan has become null and void.
A rare response to the Presidential directive was marked in Amman mainly in “Al-Dostour” daily newspaper that published an editorial for the first time in the history of the Jordanian press talking about the neglected role of Jordan in protecting Saudi Arabia’s security and borders.
The governmental “Al-Rai” Newspaper completely ignored Al-Nossour “whispering” because the official media cannot ignore the mentioned law simply, but Al-Nosour continued, arranging with supreme bodies likely, to send angry messages to Saudi Arabia. The most important message was on the sidelines of a meeting at the prime minister with foreign press correspondents during which Al-Nosour said: If it were not of Jordan, brothers in the Gulf would have devoted half their wealth to buy the missile defense system against Israel and terrorism.
The only response to Al-Nosour’s political rocket was further bureaucratic tightening in Riyadh when it comes to the file of aid to Jordan. Prominent Jordanian persons accuse Al-Tuwaijri and the Finance Minister specifically of being responsible for this militancy, especially after the poor appearance of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and the waning influence of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, who is a former friend of Amman. This comes at the time when the Crown Prince Salman did nothing in reality but only showing solidarity verbally with three generals in the Jordan Enterprise who have visited him in the hope of shifting the compass of aid slightly and of supporting the commanders of the army, security, and intelligence services in Jordan.
In theory, we can say that the outcome of the scene is that the Saudi performance and after it the Gulf one in dealing with the challenges experienced by the Jordanian regime are key elements in the current composite scene which resulted in the fact that Amman has settled in the arms of the Russian Tsar to an extent that can be described as launching the balloon of the Russian largest test in the context of Moscow’s pursuit to control the rhythm of the region represented in the story of the giant factory of the Russian weapons in the Jordanian desert.
Virtually, there is no evidence that Amman is heading actually towards an “uncalculated” risk with Moscow that could cause Washington’s anger. Moreover, it is likely that Moscow is ready to help Amman to work on political and media related maneuvers to strengthen its negotiating position in front of the United States and the Gulf system.
This could be the deeper or longer target to leak the story of the Russian giant arms factory, but the Jordanian leadership is at least attracting the attention of the brother and friend by saying that it does not lack options and is ready to take risks when things reach the limit of a financial war. The only constant thing so far is that any Jordanian rush towards the bosom of the Russian Tsar and any change in the position of Amman regarding the Syrian scene are but only an “echo” of the abovementioned Saudi harassment.