Interview with Adnan M. Hayajneh

24 October 2014, Istanbul

Adnan M. Hayajneh is Professor in the Department of International Relations at Qatar University. Hayajneh contributed to several universities such as, the United Nations University, University of Jordan, Al- Bayt University, University of Arizona and international institutions such as the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy. Political development, security, American foreign policy and the Middle East is some of his research areas. He has tens of publications on the topics.


Melisa Mendoza: How do you see the prospect for Arab youth in terms of their search for good governance and freedom?

Adnan M. Hayajneh: I do not think that the Arab youth can be ignored because they are majority of the population. Their grievances and aspirations must be met by the government. If the government cannot do so, then they need to step aside. And if they do not step aside people will decide what to do. The youth is not only Arab, they are international and they want things that everybody else in the world wants. They want jobs, better life, to make money to make a good living. Finding jobs is one of the challenges to the government. They cannot give jobs. This will be an issue and the Arab youth will take this to the streets as they did in the Arab Spring. And there will be a cycle of demonstrations in the Arab world unless it is solved peacefully.

Melisa Mendoza: Do you see a correlation between rise of extremism and stagnation in the Arab Spring?

Adnan M. Hayajneh: I think this is valid because if you do not give the rights of people- political, social, economic rights- and if the governments are not able to do that, people will be recruited by some international, national, regional terrorist organizations. When you anger people, this is what you should expect. My view about alliances against ISIS is that they are not solving the real problem. They are only solving the results. We got rid of Saddam Hussein but we could not get rid of the causes for having dictatorships. You push people to the corner and then you blame them to be extremists and terrorists and this is sometimes highly hypocritical.

Melisa Mendoza: What are the main lines of thinking on the rise IS in the Arab world?

Adnan M. Hayajneh: Some of the interviews were sponsored by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and they said they found very limited support. The Arab world is not giving so many choices to people. The only choice is the government and it provides not really much. And when you have something like the Islamic State that promises people to be an "Islamic state", people remember the times of Omar bin Khattab and Omar bin Abdul Aziz and all the other great leaders. They remember the fairness and greatness. They also get support from being against foreign powers such as the United States. This way they also get support from the Arab streets.

Melisa Mendoza: What are the main objectives of Iran in the Middle East? What are the main Arab attitudes towards Iran?

Adnan M. Hayajneh: Iran used to be a friend of the Arab world before the Iranian Revolution. The Shah was well received. Iraq used to be the enemy for most of the monarchies in the region. Things have changed after the Revolution. Now many countries fear that Iran will have a hegemonic position and power and set the rules for other nations. Iran uses a lot of power in terms of supporting the Palestinian cause in Gazza. I would say Iran used the Arab spring. Now, many fear because of the closeness of Iran and the United States. They believe this convergence will be at the expense of their security. A lot of countries have benefited from the economic sanctions imposed to Iran. They enjoyed the animosity between Iran and the West. Now the United States is back in the region. There will be intervention and it will stay in the region while everyone was hoping the United States was pivoting towards China and Asia. Many people do not want to see an improvement in the relationship between Iran and the West.

Melisa Mendoza: Do you think the Arab Spring skipped Jordan and Morocco? What future holds for the two countries?

Adnan M. Hayajneh: I think in Jordan the Arab Spring is still in the making and in Morocco the Monarch took pre-emptive strategy with changing the constitution and taking care of the governance. These were smart moves. In Jordan, there are also many constitutional changes but most of the power is still reign within the hands of the Monarch. Many people from the government and intelligence are using the example of Syria as a threatening force. They ask people, "do you want to be like Syria?" The government is presenting the high costs of the revolution. As a Jordanian, we did not achieve the goals we were aiming. We are not aiming to change the system; we want to amend the system. The level of high corruption is destroying the future of the country.

Begüm Zorlu: For how long do you think authoritarian survival strategies of rulers can last?

Adnan M. Hayajneh: From a historical point of view, some regimes have survived for 50 years, some for 40 years. These regimes are very smart. They use all of the powers of the state to benefit themselves and control the others. They will pay the loyal on one hand and outcast the disloyal on the other. Loyal to them of course, not to the country. Why cannot these regimes survive for another 50 years? They can. But who could also guess that Mubarak will be ousted. So, I do have hope. It is against national laws to continue like this. We missed the first, the second and the third waves of democracy. We know that the Arab Spring will be followed by a major conflict but in the end of the day I think self- determination is a legitimate goal for everybody regardless of their religion or nationality.

Begüm Zorlu: Where do you think economy stands in this picture? Some people say Saudi Arabia skipped the Arab Spring because of its relatively strong economy.

Adnan M. Hayajneh: You have relationship between two factors; legitimacy and effectiveness. I think in terms of legitimacy, the poor countries tried to change their constitution in order to change the deficit of economic development and effectiveness. The rich governments were very smart. They increased the salaries so nobody would ask for it. But the problem they will face is that the expenditures are fixed and they need to continue to increase the salaries for people to afford living. People are expecting this to be their rights, accumulated rights.