Prime Minister of Jordan and LSE alumnus Bisher Khasawneh visited LSE last week for an event hosted by the LSE Law School. Khasawneh was interviewed by Law School Dean David Kershaw.
The conversation began with a discussion of the Prime Minister’s experience at LSE and his subsequent career before shifting to contemporary issues of Jordan’s economy and conflict in the Middle East.
Regarding his time at LSE, Khasawneh said: “I saw the quality of education, the depth of knowledge that [LSE graduates] had, the acceptance of diversity and intellectual challenge, and to me, this was basically a dream come true. I still cherish that experience, and I think it had the most profound effect subsequently on my entire professional career and my academic career.”
After graduating from LSE, Khasawneh embarked on a long diplomatic career culminating in his appointment as Prime Minister in 2020, which came with a mandate to address the COVID-19 crisis and overhaul the Jordanian economy.
Highlighting the connection between Jordan’s COVID-19 recovery and its focus on political modernisation and economic mobilisation, Khasawneh discussed new programmes aiming to reform Jordanian political parties and to increase the economic growth rate through job creation and investment.
However, Khasawneh said, economic growth faltered at the end of 2023 following the destabilising impact of the outbreak of war in Israel and Gaza. Khasawneh called for a ceasefire and urged all parties to work toward a sustainable path forward, arguing that a two-state solution is the only way to ensure both stability and economic prosperity in the region.
“The region will go up in flames if we do not reach a two-state solution whereby the independent sovereign Palestinian state emerges on the ‘67 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Khasawneh said. “This is the only wager that can also ensure Israel’s security and stability in the region, and unlock the full potential of the region economically.”
The conversation concluded with a discussion of leadership in times of crisis, with Khasawneh emphasising the need to continue working toward progress and maintaining goodwill. He pointed to Jordan’s success in controlling inflation, expanding the social safety net, and investing in new infrastructure projects despite the instability in the region.
“This is a country that carries a lot of good faith globally [...] and that is owed to fundamentally adhering also to principled positions that aim at delivering the betterment of the region, of the globe, and not only to the citizens,” Khasawneh said. “It is this exercise of leadership, that is led by his Majesty, that fundamentally allows us to hedge against unknowns, to be in safe spots, and to also enact change and move the dial positively.”
Khasawneh closed the presentation with a brief audience Q&A. An audio of the lecture can be found on LSE player.