If you say the words “Middle East”, you evoke a familiar set of images in a listener’s head. Violence, conflict, general poverty alongside significant oil wealth, arms, terrorism, corruption – an unstable mess where the next load of misery is just waiting to fall on you.
This creates problems for journalists, because there are only certain stories people will read. Few wish to remember that Lebanon was once the Las Vegas of the region, and still has the potential to be a powerhouse if left to its own devices. Nor do they wish to hear positive stories from conflict countries, because these can be seen as supporting one side or another, and that might turn out to be the wrong side, as far as those who bankroll the media outlets are concerned.
So why is it we do not hear more stories about the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan? After all, it ticks all the boxes. Muslim, autocratic, bang in the middle of all the regional conflicts, there should be a lot of interest in what Jordan is doing and what the effect of it is. Doubtless most Jordanians just want to live in peace, but so do most Syrians, Lebanese, Israelis and Iraqis. If others won´t allow that, and support their nnarratives through the world’s media outlets, the same should be happening in Jordan.
Yet the Kingdom seems to rise above it all – not exactly prospering, but not getting its hands too dirty. We hear about its involvement in the Arab League, one of the least effective international organisations ever, and it is thus implied that Jordan prefers diplomacy to conflict, and is therefore the neighbour other regional countries should also be. But we never hear much about the internal goings-on in Jordan, whereas we hear a lot about those in other regional countries because they are taken to prove a point.
As always, there is a good reason why Jordan is separated from its brethren, kept in some sanitised corner where it is just an accident that it is part of the “Middle East” and “Arab World”. No one wants to fit it into the usual boxes because it is too useful to others to let it be something else.
If Syria or Iraq were allowed to be Jordan they would not be a lot different to now,