Jordan is a stable country within a highly unstable region. 

Over the course of its history, the people of Jordan have navigated complex political, economic, military, and environmental threats to maintain the country's security and prosperity in ways that its near neighbors have not.

As threats in the region become more complex and extreme, however, successfully resolving them – through national initiatives, legislation, negotiation, or other means – has become much more difficult. To maintain stability and security for the country, Jordan must increase its sovereignty. To increase its sovereignty, Jordan must deliberately and systematically increase its capacity to respond to complex threats. 

This site will present five brief profiles of the major threats facing Jordan today and some of the implications for the country if they are not successfully resolved. Though the threats are very different from each other, they share key features that must be considered if they are to be addressed effectively:

  • Each threat will require agreements between multiple actors influential in the life of the country to solve. These agreements must also be jointly enforced by the actors if the threats are to be reduced or eliminated.
  • None of these five threats can be resolved with simple short-term approaches. Each requires complex multi-stage actions to solve.
  • All of these threats negatively affect multiple dimensions of Jordanian society. Each will require many kinds of resources (physical, cultural, political, and others) to resolve.

Though these threats are highly complex and present great challenges to Jordan, they can be resolved with a national tool that engages all necessary actors to create, resource, implement, and enforce long-term solutions. 

Water Challenges

Jordan is one of the driest countries on earth and draws the majority of its water from non-renewable resources. (percentage of native water vs not). Aging infrastructure placed additional pressure on water resources and impeded access for the Jordanian population even before the massive influx of refugees from the war in Syria. Now faced with sharply increased demands, lack water has become a primary threat to the stability and security of the country.

A country without reliable and adequate access to water for its population is at great risks from regional conflict or economic changes that might threaten its supply. Coupled with an inefficient and wasteful system for accessing water, this lack of water security diminishes the country's ability to advocate for itself in the international arena and protect the health of its population. As a basic requirement of survival, adequate access to water is foundational to national sovereignty.

Refugee Challenges   

Historically, Jordan has been a welcoming destination for refugees. Successfully integrated refugees have greatly expanded Jordan's human capital. However, each wave of refugees has placed an additional burden on the country’s infrastructure and resources especially when extremely large numbers of refugees have arrived in a short period of time.

                    Jordan population growth, 1960-2015

Jordan is currently facing an enormous influx of refugees, mostly from the conflict in Syria, placing severe strain on the country's resources and impacting its quality of life. Pressures on Jordan include economic (e.g., increased rent in urban areas, unemployment, etc.), cultural (e.g., declining national literacy rates as undereducated refugees enter the workforce), and resource (e.g., water as noted above, state services, etc.) strains. Finding ways to support refugees and enlist the capabilities they bring with them will both relieve the crisis and strengthen Jordan's sovereignty. 

Energy Challenges 

Jordan produces only a tiny fraction of the energy it consumes, and its demands for energy will only increase. The country’s current lack of fuel, and its longer-term lack of reliable sources of energy is an impediment to development, a risk to security and stability, and a limitation on national sovereignty.

Jordan current faces a fuel shortage, and its dependence on outside energy threatens its stability and sovereignty in three major ways. Jordan is at risk of having its energy supply interrupted by regional conflict, is at a negotiating disadvantage with any country it relies on for energy, and its ability to grow economically is limited by capital flowing out of the country to purchase energy.  

Unemployment Challenges

Jordan faces two distinct unemployment challenges. First, despite a highly educated population, unemployment stands at 15.8% due to limited growth in professional sectors. Second, the influx of refugees desperate for employment increases competition for jobs at all levels.

High levels of unemployment place huge demands on Jordanian social services, limit national productivity, and contribute to national anxiety and instability. The less productive Jordan is, the less secure the country. Reducing unemployment is a key factor in building a more prosperous and sovereign nation.

E-Government Challenges

Jordan has been unable to implement effective and widespread e-Governance programs. Unsolved challenges include high start-up costs, poor internet infrastructure and access, and the need for continual maintenance of electronic systems. Additionally, the Jordanian public becomes slow to adopt e-Governance despites its advantages, reportedly because of concerns about government handling of private personal information.

Without effective e-Governance, Jordan will become increasingly unable to manage its complex and modernizing society. This will restrict opportunities for the Jordanian population, make the country more vulnerable to political exploitation and corruption, and reduce Jordan's ability to compete in a fast moving international arena. Effective e-Government is key to public life and national sovereignty in the 21st century.

Each of the major challenges facing Jordan is highly complex and will require the participation and coordination of many actors to solve. Resolving complex challenges requires creating and enforcing multi-party agreements among those actors. Multi-party agreements can only be designed and enforced effectively if actors have a common understanding of certain vital political, economic and social information. Sovereignty First's tool, INCA, generates this information and brings actors to a common understanding necessary for creating effective agreements. With each effective agreement Jordan's social contract is strengthened and its sovereignty increased. 

INCA Applied to Water Challenges

Addressing Jordan's need for more water will require many agreements about:

  • Infrastructure development 
  • Participation of other countries
  • Environmental impact 
  • Finance
  • Distribution
  • Possible population displacement.

Understanding the interests of all parties to such agreements is vital to ensuring water security and greater sovereignty for Jordan.

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

INCA identifies interests: In 2013 Jordan began developing the "Dead Sea Project", a canal connecting the Red Sea and the Dead Sea after signing an agreement with Israel and Palestine. In 2016, 17 international firms bid to begin construction of the canal. In November of 2016, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation announced that the $100 million first phase of construction would begin in 2018. Jordan will need many additional agreements like those that produced this project to fully address its water problem. By more quickly and transparently revealing actors' interests, INCA can help reduce the time needed to reach and execute such agreements. 

INCA Applied to Refugee Challenges

Effectively managing Jordan's refugee population (including employment, education, integration, repatriation, and other issues) will require coordination between:

  • Government departments
  • The private sector
  • Nongovernmental organizations
  • Other civil society actors
  • Other countries.

Ensuring that these groups act effectively in concert will require extensive pre-planning and ongoing communication.

EU/ECHO/Caroline Gluck

EU/ECHO/Caroline Gluck

INCA identifies opportunities for collaboration: INCA identifies and includes local, regional, and international prime actors across a broad range of sectors. It helps clarify their incentives and motivations for engagement with Jordan's refugee challenges. Using INCA, these actors can initiate partnerships, projects, and programs that will improve the quality of life for refugees while reducing burdens on Jordan's infrastructure and citizenry. Ideally, Jordan's commitment to refugee assistance ultimately benefits and builds the sovereignty of the country.  

INCA Applied to Energy Challenges 

Developing energy security for Jordan will require balancing the interests of:

  • Consumers
  • Industry 
  • Environmental activists
  • Countries supplying Jordan with energy
  • Both petrochemical and sustainable energy companies
  • The government of the HK of Jordan.

These actors and others will likely advance or block agreements to reduce Jordan's reliance on energy imports to the degree that their individual interests are served.

INCA identifies sources of influence: With much to gain or lose as Jordan develops energy self-sufficiency, it is important that all actors understand each other's sources of influence. INCA's peer assessment by the prime actors themselves, helps all actors to identify path to gain support for the large-scale projects that will increase Jordanian energy independence and build the country's sovereignty.

INCA Applied to Unemployment Challenges

Unemployment in Jordan is affected by the interconnection of policy, demand, education, transportation, and other factors. Prime actors who can influence these factors for the better include:

  • Government ministries 
  • Educational institutions
  • Private sector employers
  • Public sector employers
  • Foreign investors.

Better understanding of the needs, resources, policies, and operations of these actors can enable better efforts to reduce unemployment in Jordan.

INCA clarifies relationships: Through INCA, prime actors come to a common understanding of how each of their missions and operations impact each others' missions and operations. This common understanding allows collaboration and the best possible alignment when working toward a common goal. Lowering Jordanian unemployment will increase the country's prosperity and sovereignty.

INCA Applied to E-Government Challenges

For the last several years, the Jordanian government has been working to provide better services to the Jordanian people through its e-Government program. Current departments involved include:

  • Department of Lands and Survey
  • Traffic Department 
  • Greater Amman Municipality 
  • Contracted private sector firms.

To date, 48% of Jordanians report not having used the services, citing inadequate internet access, reliability of service, education, and guarantees of security as limiting factors. 






INCA identifies capacities: Large-scale change within a country, whether to address threats or take advantage of opportunities, must occur at a pace fast enough to be beneficial, but restrained enough not to exceed a country's capacity. Understanding how much and how quickly a country can implement and absorb change makes planning easier and success more likely. The steady accumulation of successful national initiatives is the path to national sovereignty. Successful e-Government will be another step along that path.

Capacity Transfer

Sovereignty First is committed to the principle that there are many ways in which a country can develop and expand its capacities. We are also committed to the belief that it is the citizens, leadership, and influential actors of the country itself who are in the best position to fully understand that country's needs, and to determine its best path forward. We provide tools to build capacity and increase national sovereignty, and work to ensure that the builders of the country are primarily its own citizens and residents.

From day one of our work in Jordan we will train prospective Jordanian staff in our methodology and the key skills required for its implementation. These skills include:

  • Interviewing
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Group psychological theory 
  • Media production
  • Political theory 
  • Management
  • Leadership

These skills will ultimately allow full transfer of our project to Jordanian staff and advisors. These skills will also be valuable assets for trainees in other high-level employment opportunities.

Sovereignty First's training partner in Jordan is the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, one of the most highly regarded political think tanks in the Middle East.  We are working with the center to develop a training and certification program that will not only further our work but will increase the political, intellectual, and practical capacities of Jordanian students. 

Sovereignty First's operations partner is CARDNE, the Regional Centre on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development for the Near East. CARDNE is a pioneering Inter-Governmental Organization active in 17 Arab countries. CARDNE will oversee the process of interviewing and data collection, and provide Jordanian staff with field experience and ongoing mentorship. 

More details about our training program and field opportunities will be posted here shortly. 

Jordanian Success Stories and Blog

As Sovereignty First Jordan begins, we will post progress, information, and examples of successful Jordanian multi-party initiatives in a series of blogs here. Also, we will be happy to respond to any questions about our work, methodology, experiences, or other topics you would like us to address. In either case, please contact Craig Coletta at We plan to update this blog on a bi-weekly basis. 

Additionally, we will periodically post short (3-5 minute) videos highlighting key aspects of our work in Jordan, discussing our methodology, and introducing our staff. Watch this space for video updates from our team.



السيادة أولاً (Sovereignty First) Jordan Committee

The individuals on the U.S. - Jordan Sovereignty First committee have taken on the challenge of promoting and securing funding for Sovereignty First's work in Jordan beginning in 2017. Committee members are working to raise 200,000 JD, to support initial implementation costs, including training, education, and the implementation of INCA.


Mrs. Sawsan Alfayez - Mrs. Sawsan Alfayez is a board director of the Jordanian Alliance Against Hunger (JAAH), a coalition of organizations dedicated to food security and sustainable agriculture in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. She is currently working with Regional Centre on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development for the Near East (CARDNE) and other regional organizations for the development of the Regional Alliance Against Hunger. Previously Mrs. Alfayez served as JAAH’s Director and worked with Jordan’s Ministry of Agriculture for over twenty years serving in various managerial capacities including Regional Director and Gender Unit Director. Mrs. Alfayez developed, coordinated, and provided training to numerous project related to gender development in Jordan and the region in collaboration with national, international, and UN agencies and program.  She is an active member on distinguished boards and organizations including The Jordanian National Committee for Women (JNCW).

Dr. Mahmud Duwayri - is a Professor at Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan. He received his B.Sc. in Agriculture; Soils and Irrigation in 1968, his M.Sc. in Agronomy; Weed Control in 1970 from the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon , and PhD in plant breeding and plant genetics in 1973 from University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin . he is also Editor in Chief, Jordan Journal of Agricultural Sciences (An International Refereed Journal issued by Higher Scientific Research Committee of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Deanship of Academic Research, University of Jordan). He served as former Minister of Agriculture, Jordan (2001-2002), former Director, Plant Production and Protection Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy( 1998- 2001), and former Vice President, Jordan University for Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan (1996-1998). Worked as a consultant for several regional and international agencies in the fields of agriculture development and policy, scientific research and higher education development. Represented the Middle East and North Africa Region in several scientific commissions and agricultural forums. Cooperated and is acquainted with the CGIAR Centers mainly ICARDA, ISNAR, CIMMYT and IPGRI. He was a former member of Board of Trustees, the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), Rome, Italy, of Consultative Scientific Committee, Arab Atomic Energy Organization, Tunisia and of the Higher Council for Agriculture, Jordan. He served as President of Higher Council for Agriculture, Jordan and the chair of the National Steering Committee on Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer, Jordan.

Dr. George Hazboun - George Hazboun is founder of the law firm Hazboun & Co. and International Consolidated for Legal Consultations, a legal scholar and professor who has published forty two published legal articles and  three books dealing with arbitration,  multinational law, energy, and other legal topics. He has also acted as arbitrator (sole, Chairman and member of Arbitration Tribunal) in 70 international and domestic arbitration cases and has represented states and governments in arbitration cases.  He previously served as the Dean of the faculty of law at the University of Jordan, the president of the American University of Madaba, and visiting professor of law at the faculty of law at the Syrian University. He has contributed to drafting many laws and statutes in Jordan contributed in drafting many laws and statutes in Jordan, and given consultations as legal expert to many governments, UNESCO and the World Bank.

Gen Nasri Nowwar - Nasri R. Nowwar, Brig General Royal Jordanian Air Force (Ret), is a Consultant and a Foreign Sales Representative ( FSR ) for United Technologies International Operations, Inc. (UTIO) in support of PRATT & WHITNEY- Military Engines (PW-ME) in Jordan and Iraq. In 1977 he earned a BSc degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Hellenic Air Force Academy and was commissioned as 2nd Lt. In 1990, he received Masters of Science degree in Aerospace Vehicle Design from Cranfield Institute of Technology, England. He received additional military and technical training attending courses offered at numerous bases, universities and institutions throughout Jordan, USA, England, France and Greece , and is a graduate of The Defense Resources Management/Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. He served in the Royal Jordanian Air Force holding senior staff positions at Air Force bases hosting several flying squadrons of fighter aircraft and culminated his Air Force career as the Director of Maintenance; responsible for the logistics support of all aircraft, rotary and fixed wing in the RJAF inventory. After his retirement in 2001, he joined the Ministry of Transport assuming the duties as GM of Queen Alia International Airport. In Feb. 2007, he was appointed GM at Jordan Airline Training & Simulation. Gen. Nowwar is a member of the Jordanian Engineering Association, senior consultant and board member for many companies in Jordan and others outside Jordan, a member of the International Equestrian Federation as an Official Judge , an associate member of the World Engagement Institute in Chicago and speaks four languages: Arabic, English, French and Greek.

Dr. Musa Shteiwi - holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Cincinnati / Ohio / United States in 1991. He is currently the Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. He has more than 20 years of experience in teaching and research at the University of Jordan, in the areas of Political Sociology, Human Rights, Development, and Gender. His experience includes advisory and consultancies with government, UN, the World Bank and other international organizations and research institutions. He has more than 35 papers and published books in the field of development, social policies, poverty, unemployment, women, social classes, civil society and political parties, and youth.

Charles Tucker (Maj Gen, Ret.) - Charles E. Tucker, Jr., JD, is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the World Engagement Institute ("WEInstitute"). He previously served as the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI), Chicago, Illinois. General Tucker's mission is to develop and promote the fundamental rights of peoples around the world through education, research, documentation, capacity-building and advocacy. To accomplish this, he and the WEInstitute engage in contemporary human rights and rule of law research, training and advocacy, as well as in post-conflict justice capacity-building programs and large-scale human rights documentation projects throughout the world. General Tucker prepares international students, professionals and scholars for institutional capacity-building, rule of law and human rights careers by administering international institutional development projects, fellowship programs, special courses, internships and research opportunities in Chicago and abroad. Prior to founding the WEInstitute, General Tucker served as an international rule of law and humanitarian law practitioner, mostly with the U.S. Government.  

Dr. Ghaleb Tuffaha - Dr. Ghaleb Tuffaha is the Chief Executive / Director General of The Regional Center on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, (CARDNE), an autonomous intergovernmental organization dedicated to stimulating and promoting regional cooperation in agrarian reform and rural development in its ten member states. Over his 40 year career, Dr. Tuffaha has worked in fields including vocational education, rural social development, vocational guidance, and communication skills training.  He has served as a consulting international expert for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), co-authored, edited and translated numerous training manuals involving rural development and gender issues, and was responsible for vocational education in the Jordanian Ministry of Education. Immediately before joining CARDNE, he was national training consultant at the Technical Cooperation Project “National Plan of Action for Gender Mainstreaming in Rural and Agricultural Development” in Jordan for FAO. He holds a Bsc in Agriculture, a diploma in Rural development and farmers training and an MA and Phd in Rural Social development from Reading University in England.

Dr. Eric Wolterstorff - Dr. Wolterstorff's expertise is measuring and shaping group behavior, especially at the intersection of self-governance, development, and large-scale threats or traumas. For 25 years, Dr. Wolterstorff has helped leaders manage crises, including in post-Katrina New Orleans, Germany, and Indonesia, and has conducted social trauma analyses of the United States, Germany, Israel, Japan, China, and Rwanda. 
Dr. Wolterstorff has led or co-led six business turnarounds, five of which were successful. He has served as a C-level advisor to eighteen organizations, and presented to dozens of others. Additionally, he has co-founded three businesses and spun off two. In 2013, at the request of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, Eric assumed leadership of the Coalition for Stabilization Reform.
Dr. Wolterstorff is the founder and Director of Sovereignty First.

Implementing Partners


The University of Jordan Center for Strategic Studies: The Center for Strategic Studies aims to conduct studies in political, military, economic, and social aspects of issues that interest Jordan and the Arab world, that are connected to the security of the region, and that affect its future. In addition, the Center conducts opinion polls and organizes seminars, conferences and other activities with the goal of providing researchers and policy makers necessary facts and data.


The Regional Centre for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development for the Near East (CARDNE): CARDNE is an autonomous intergovernmental organization, hosted in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and consisting of ten member states: Hashemite King of Jordan, Arab Republic of Egypt, Syrian Arab Republic, Republic of Tunisia, Republic of Iraq, Republic of Lebanon, Republic of Yemen, Republic of Sudan, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Kingdom of Morocco, and the Palestinian National Authority (as an observer). CARDNE’s mission is to foster an open exchange of ideas and experiences with the primary mission of stimulating and promoting regional cooperation in agrarian reform and rural development, and providing expert consultation, technical support, field research, and specialized, strategic activities.  



Sovereignty First  - Sovereignty First is a private American firm. They engage on the ground with local, regional, and international actors who are influential in the life of a country to generate a common understanding among them—of the prime actors themselves, of the country, threats to the country, and of the commitment of each actor to a vision of greater sovereignty for the country. With this common understanding in place, prime actors can act effectively to strengthen the sovereignty of the country. Their work is funded by those who believe stability, development, and progress can only come from within a country,  and each country must find its own path forward, at its own pace. 

Our Network

Our network is built of organizations and individuals within Jordan who have expressed their interest in supporting and promoting the Sovereignty First Framework in Jordan in various ways. Dr. Ibrahim Badran, Advisor to the President, Philadelphia University -  We look forward to collaborating with them as we implement the Sovereignty First Framework in Jordan.


Sovereignty First is actively seeking funding to implement our project in Jordan. Funders can sponsor part or all of the project. While any individual or organisation can provide funding, we especially seek Jordanian support to promote Jordanian ownership of the process and sovereignty. 

If you would like information about project costs and how to become a funder please contact Craig Coletta at 


Sovereignty First is actively seeking volunteers both in Jordan and the United States to help us build our capacity as we ramp up to implementing work in Jordan. Our first priority at the moment is English to Arabic translators. To inquire about volunteering please contact Madeline O'Harra at  



For media inquires please contact Craig Coletta  |  +1 443-500-9650

Sovereignty First staff are available to speak at conferences, on panels, or in interviews.

Sovereignty First in the News

On August 1, 2016 Sovereignty First's founder Dr. Eric Wolterstorff contributed an article to the Atlantic Council's Syria Source blog, "Finding Ground Truth in Syria: Bringing Light to a Confused Information Environment." To read the article click here


A view from the Citadel in Amman, occupied since the Neolithic and with ruins from the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods.

A view from the Citadel in Amman, occupied since the Neolithic and with ruins from the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods.

Two of Syada Awalan Jordan’s partners, Dr. Ghaleb Tuffaha (Director General of CARDNE, the Regional Centre on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development for the Near East) and Dr. Wolterstorff (Sovereignty First), after signing their memorandum of understanding.

Two of Syada Awalan Jordan’s partners, Dr. Ghaleb Tuffaha (Director General of CARDNE, the Regional Centre on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development for the Near East) and Dr. Wolterstorff (Sovereignty First), after signing their memorandum of understanding.

Two of Syada Awalan's partners, Dr. Musa Shteiwi (Director of the University of Jordan's Center for Strategic Studies), and Dr. Eric Wolterstorff (Sovereignty First) sign their memorandum of understanding.

Two of Syada Awalan's partners, Dr. Musa Shteiwi (Director of the University of Jordan's Center for Strategic Studies), and Dr. Eric Wolterstorff (Sovereignty First) sign their memorandum of understanding.

The front entrance to the country's  flagship academic institution, the University of Jordan. 

The front entrance to the country's  flagship academic institution, the University of Jordan.