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Breaking up is hard to do

Feb 17,2015 - Last updated at Feb 17,2015

Dear Jordan, our love affair has lasted for four years. But I’m afraid it’s time to break up. I have to leave.

It’s going to be hard to do. As Juliet said to Romeo: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

We will be really sad, but it’s time to move on.

Of course I knew from the start that you’d had many relationships before. People reminded me of the “historical relationship” with some of my compatriots. That man Glubb seems to have left a mark.

But I’m not the jealous type. And anyway I wanted to build a firm friendship that looked to the future rather than the past.

I’d like to think we’ve done that. When it came to what we were trying to achieve, we agreed early on that our prime aim was to bolster the security, stability and prosperity of Jordan.

I have shown that the UK is a strong supporter and friend of Jordan. And that we’ve put our money where our mouth is: In the last three years we have contributed over JD240 million in support for Jordan.

Prince Charles’ visit last week was a strong demonstration of the links between royal families, but also a symbol of the links between people.

This friendship has not been just professional but also personal.  It is the people of Jordan who have made our time here special. Not just the people we meet in Amman, but also in the regions where the welcome is always warm and genuine.

Mansaf diplomacy helps; it has given me a taste of the real hospitality of the Jordanian people.

The places we’ve visited are also special. Not just the magnificent places like Petra, Jerash and Wadi Rum, but the places that take a bit more effort, like Umm Qais and the spectacular wadis and canyons of the Dead Sea Rift Valley.

So why am I leaving? Why do we have to break up?

I hope you don’t think it was something you said.

Was it the driving? Was it the rubbish left in some of your most beautiful places? Was it the smoking in restaurants?

As in any relationship, you have to take the rough with the smooth; you have to tolerate things you don’t like.

I know that from your point of view, such comments from outsiders are never flavour of the month. But after four years of friendship, I hope you’ll take them in the spirit I intend.

I only mention them because I suspect you also find these things annoying.

I am conscious that I am leaving you at a difficult time. You live in a dangerous neighbourhood.

Maintaining security, generating new jobs, developing your own democracy: these are not easy tasks. But you have a strong symbol of national unity in the monarchy and strong leadership in King Abdullah.

His vision of a secure, stable, democratic and prosperous Jordan is a worthy aspiration. Delivering it won’t be easy.

As we have discussed many times, progress is impossible without change. And change is a fundamental component of the stability we both want.

Reform will take time: Evolution is better than revolution.

Securing that reform means tackling entrenched attitudes, for example in education and in the public sector. And it means creating a true meritocracy where the only factor in whether someone gets a job is that he or she is the best candidate, irrespective of the background.

You have many friends around the world. That was proven in the last few weeks by the messages of sympathy and support sent from all corners of the world after the dreadful murder of Muath Al Kasasbeh.

Your friends will help you. But they also need you to help yourself to deliver the King’s vision.

The steps necessary to implement reform are up to you, and have to be based on your history, traditions and culture.

We will take many happy memories with us and leave many friends.

Good luck. Ateekum il-afieh!

The writer is British ambassador to Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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