Former Jordanian Prime Minister reflects peace attempts on ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’

Adil Cader of ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ (right) with former Jordanian Prime Minister, Awn Al-Khasawneh

‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ with Adil Cader, which seeks to educate young people on key international issues, has concluded an interview with former Jordanian Prime Minister, Awn Al-Khasawneh.

The two discuss the foreign policy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and touch upon the former Prime Minister’s career. The host Adil Cader begins with a question on the role of Jordan in world affairs. Mr. Al-Khasawneh responds that even though Jordan is a small country, it has a strategic geographic standing in the region and an educated populace. It has, in the past, served the interests of the Middle East, and still continues to do so. He adds that as much as he would like Jordan to be an “idyllic island in the Pacific”, it is situated in a tough neighbourhood. Mr. Al-Khasawneh continues- “during the cold war era, Jordan’s foreign policy was very pro-western”. Yet, it enjoyed “normal relations” with the nation-states in the socialist camp. However, with the end of the cold war and emergence of “post-modern tribalism”, followed by the 9/11 and “unjust war” with large parts of the Arab world, Jordan has been put in a very difficult situation. He further adds- accompanied with geography, these are the factors that influence Jordan’s foreign policy decisions in the contemporary scenario.

Adil Cader then talks about the diversity within the Arab world which is often neglected or misunderstood in the global discourse around the region. To this, Mr. Al-Khasawneh reflects that there are several unifying factors within the three regions that make up the Arab world, and yet, even with the establishment of the GCC and the Arab League before it, the unification has not been to the levels of the European Union. He also draws from his experience of serving as the Prime Minister of Jordan and opens up about the institutional dynamics between Jordan’s democratic parliament, the monarchy and other institutions. Regarding the general social ecosystem in Jordan, he states that it is more “tolerant in whole” in comparison to some of the dictatorships in the region, for the Hashemite regime respects human rights. 

With regards to the diplomatic representation, Mr. Al-Khasawneh adds that it is the Prime Minister who leads diplomatic negotiations while the monarchy plays a supporting role. During the Arab spring, he reminisces, “the Arab world was going through a phenomenon that was difficult to explain”. Towards the end of the interview, Mr. Al-Khasawneh explains the relational dynamics between the Arab League and the United Nations. Chapter 8 of the UN charter, which is rarely referred to, provides for the provisions of the Council delegating its powers to a regional inter-governmental organization. “It was my preference to have the Arab League involved in resolving the Syrian crisis”, which, he adds, was not brought to result.

Awn Al-Khasawneh served as the 39th Prime Minister of Jordan (2011 – 2012). Previously, he was Vice President of the International Court of Justice (2006 – 2009) and held various senior roles as an International Lawyer and in the Jordanian Diplomatic Service.

‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ seeks to educate young people on key international issues and analyse key themes of foreign policy and current global affairs. Their offerings include hosting panels, addressing conferences, carrying out research and publishing.