To Marouf Bakhit

From King Abdallah II of Jordan
To Marouf Bakhit
24 November 2005
Translated from Arabic

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

Marouf Bakhit,

May God protect you,


I extend to you an Arab Hashemite greeting full of appreciation and respect. I have come to know you in different contexts through the posts – diplomatic, academic and military – that you have assumed. You always met expectations in excellence, competence and belonging. You have dedicated your competence and experience to the service of our homeland and our people, and of this we are proud and appreciative.

The hectic pace of life demands that we accelerate the achievement of our national goals and maximise the gains of our people. Following the resignation of the government of Adnan Badran, I entrust you with the task of forming a new government that will realise our vision for reform by continuing to build on work already started, correcting whatever gaps or shortcomings may exist and extracting from the negative aspects the appropriate lessons that we might avoid them in the future.

The achievements of the previous government, in terms of action towards its objectives under difficult regional and international conditions, are appreciated and have been noted. Nevertheless, there remain the aspirations of our people and the higher strategic goals we are committed to achieving for every citizen, male and female, through building a modern Jordan, capable of production and competition, whose people are knowledgeable and cultured and seek a place among the advanced countries in terms of development and cultural and civilisational values that are translated into democracy, pluralism, equal opportunity, rule of law, openness, modernity, public freedoms, security and internal stability, that eschew incitement and violence.

These goals impose on you and your colleagues the missions and principles which I hope the government will implement and commit to according to scientific rules and mechanisms that can be implemented. Our people deserve that we exert all our efforts and dedicate our time to enhancing their living standards and to raising living standards to be among the best and most modernised, to a standard in which the people closely monitor the government's work of the government, confident and optimistic that the government will be unhesitant in continuing its effort to continue the march of production, development and reform.

The terrorist attacks on our capital that resulted in the death of dozens of innocent citizens, Arab brethren and dear friends, and left scores more wounded, increases our resolve to cling to our unchanging basic beliefs and our democratic, reformist approach, from which there is no retreat. They simultaneously affirm the extent of our need to adopt a comprehensive strategy to confront takfiri culture.

Such a strategy does not rely on security solutions alone, but also takes into account the intellectual, cultural and political dimensions of standing up to those who are charting paths of destruction and sabotage to realise their aims. This necessitates accelerating the drafting of an anti-terrorism law and waging a merciless war on takfiri schools of thought, which feed on fanaticism, backwardness, closed-mindedness and secretiveness, are nourished by ignorance or naivety and legitimate their deeds with misleading fatwas and interpretations of our religion, thus imposing an imminent threat to society and its interests. We cannot accept this, nor can we be hesitant in confronting it.

In connection with the fight against terrorism, it saddens and infuriates us to see terrorists, saboteurs and merchants of takfiri thought don the cloak of Islam and speak in its name, when their bloody discourse is entirely unrelated to our religion and to Islam's teachings of tolerance, established fourteen centuries ago and which still demand moderation, respect for human life, the advancement – not the destruction – of human society, dialogue and debate with the “other” – all of which are values that constitute the core of the Amman Message. The message has been approved and supported by the esteemed Muslim scholars and faqihs from various countries of the world who attended the International Islamic Conference held in Amman last July.

The government, therefore, is invited to give the concepts, meanings and goals of the Amman Message the importance they deserve – under the present conditions in particular – and to communicate them to every corner of our country and to the widest sector of Islamic states, so that Muslims will know the truth about their religion. Awareness will help pull the carpet out from under this misguided and misleading group of criminals, who have begun to face difficulties because people recently have been made aware of how untrue and damaging their ideas really are.

In this context, the media also has a responsibility to serve the homeland, defend its achievements and promote tolerance, acceptance of the other and respect for the freedom of expression, in a way that is consistent with Jordan's interests. All of this should emanate from our belief that freedom is a culture, a practice, and a civilisational and humane value.

As we have always affirmed, reform is not an option but a necessity for the new Jordan we seek and towards which important strides have been made. Thus the government is required to uphold reform both as a concept and as a daily practice. Democracy, as is well-known, is a culture and practice, not a collection of mere slogans to be uttered on appropriate occasions. The government, then, is asked to institutionalise the processes of reform, modernisation and development, and in that vein, the recommendations of the National Agenda and Administrative Regions committees could be considered guidelines on which the government could draw in designing a comprehensive reform programme.

In light of the output of these two committees, the government is required to draft a number of laws in a speedy and urgent manner, with consideration to modernity, justice and social changes. The intended legislation includes a new elections law, a political parties law and a municipalities law. These should facilitate the renewal of our political and parliamentary life, guarantee wider participation in decision-making and contribute to placing our country on the map of creative, progressive countries which interact with and adapt to circumstances in accordance with our people's interests in the age of globalisation and competition in which only productive people, free citizens and law-abiding states thrive.

As for the other social and economic topics with which the National Agenda deals, the government should be committed to the national interest and place Jordanian citizens' interests at the forefront. This requires drafting legislation that will be submitted to constitutional processes within a specified time, in a manner that renders the timeframe for program implementation specified in these drafts a binding obligation on every holder of public office who will be held accountable if he or she errs and rewarded if he or she excels.

The government is also required to prepare practical and quick plans to deal promptly with poverty and unemployment, and is required to design a transparent, computerised database that can identify poor families and to guarantee that support is channelled to those who deserve it. The combination of poverty and unemployment is a great obstacle and challenge to our ambitions. It demands collaborative efforts to create more job opportunities, especially for youth and those with qualifications and experience, in a way enhances national development. Perhaps the government will continue what has already begun by building houses for those with limited income through the allocation of state lands for the construction of housing projects, units of which could be distributed to this important constituency at nominal prices, compatible with their financial abilities. It is also important that the government start work on including larger segments of society in health insurance plans and social care within available means.

Economic achievements have been great, and all of us are proud of them. Our national economy has attained high growth rates over the past years, and Jordan has become a destination for Arab and foreign investors. But we should not stop at that. We must move forward with resolution and determination to realise more achievements and gains in a way that enhances sustainable development, while taking into consideration a just distribution of the benefits of development in all the Kingdom's governorates.

Guaranteeing Arab and foreign investors' confidence in the promising investment climate requires that the government remove or correct administrative and structural imbalances in the economy, services or facilities, and remove bureaucratic obstacles that have arisen in some departments, most often due to a lack of awareness of, indifference to or illogical interpretations of the law. Here we direct attention to the importance of reconsidering the tax law in a way that realises justice, activates investment, prevents tax evasion and supports the budget. I would like also to emphasise the need to accelerate the completion of the privatisation programme, since we have achieved tangible success in this area. It is not necessary to wait until privatisation is complete to start allocating company shares to the members and retirees of our armed forces.

As we affirmed to the past government, this government should not accept negligence or hesitation and should act decisively to fight corruption and the corrupt, favouritism and slanderers and libellers. Here we should reiterate that when it comes to fighting corruption, we have an achievement that cannot be underestimated; Jordan was ranked as the 37th [least corrupt] country in the world according to Transparency International, an international organisation known for its integrity and objectivity. It is a rank of which we are proud, but cannot accept as sufficient. We should work to attain a leading rank among the countries that were pioneers in this field. This is an ambition that can be realised, and it should be the impetus to pass the anti-corruption law which has been with Parliament for some time now, waiting for light to be shed on it.

Jordan's security and stability are a hallmark of Jordanian excellence thanks to our armed forces and security institutions and their alertness, readiness, professionalism, accumulated experience and patriotism. We extend to them our trust, and support their continued training and material upgrading in accordance with the most up-to-date systems and means, so that they will always be Jordan's first line of defence, the guardian of democracy and an asset that protects Jordan from the greed of others, from terrorist conspiracies and from saboteurs.

Jordan's Arab and foreign relations are currently at their best, and they are based on the principles of respect, trust and non-interference in the internal affairs of any country, under any circumstances. These principles have given Jordanian diplomacy credibility and respect all over the world. This means that the government is called on to enhance and develop our ties with others in different fields, retaining our unwavering principles — our commitment to international legitimacy, international and Arab conventions and treaties —and pay special attention to Arab-Jordanian relations, while exerting relentless efforts to support common Arab action.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is facing a critical moment following the developments and changes in the past few months, especially the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the international community's optimism about this step. This step, which we support, should be followed by subsequent withdrawals from the West Bank in accordance with the roadmap, to which both Palestinians and Israelis should commit themselves, leading to the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state, and to the end of a conflict that has spread over so many years and impeded the development of the region's peoples and states.

I would like to affirm here our continued support for the Palestinian Authority, its legitimate, elected leadership and its struggle to establish its authority in the Gaza Strip, and to state our readiness to offer our experience, and whatever else the Palestinians may ask for to ensure the success of the forthcoming legislative elections. We hope they will produce a legislative council that represents the aspirations of the Palestinian people and the domination of one authority. We will also continue our support to the people of Iraq. We look with optimism to every step that enhances their unity and guarantees a consensus among all segments of Iraqi society in facing challenges, and in a manner that undermines Iraq's enemies who are betting amongst themselves that the Iraqis will not reach consensus. We will continue to support Iraq as it builds a strong, unified country that accommodates pluralism and peaceful competition, and that eschews violence and terror.

While we affirm that there should be a commitment to the directives included in our letter, and call for their practical application, we extend to you our trust and full support, expecting to receive your recommendations concerning the names of your ministers. We ask God to help us and grant us success, to direct our steps on the path good, to inspire all of us to follow righteous ways and to enable us to serve Jordanians and realise a bright tomorrow for Jordan, first and always.

May God Almighty protect dear Jordan as an independent, Hashemite, Arab and proud homeland.

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

Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Amman, 24 November 2005