“There is a general calm today in Israel as I announce my withdrawal from the electoral battle in Jordan.” wrote Shibli Haddad on his Facebook page earlier today. “Though I don’t own money or a car, I have hearts. You all are my hearts.”
Ever the controversial politician, Shibli Haddad was unable to register as a candidate for parliament in this year’s elections due to an unpaid electric bill, but that hasn’t deterred his resolve. Haddad has a new target: the September 20th local municipal elections in the city of Madaba, Jordan, where he is vying for a spot in the city’s government.
Haddad is a recognizable face in Jordanian politics, once compared to Muammar Gaddafi for his over-the-top behavior and outlandish political views, these days Haddad appears to more closely resemble Donald Trump than anyone else.
Running on a platform of gender equality, “liberating Palestine from river to sea”, finding the hidden oil in Jordan that Gulf Countries don’t want us to know about, and “making the earthquake atop the heads of corrupted politicians in Jordan”, Haddad stands out amongst his peers.
His antics have made him a popular personality on social media. Haddad is a fan of action shots, and his Facebook profile is filled with the stout politician in various scenarios.
From herding sheep:
"I know I haven’t got a lot of votes, but I won’t quit. I will remain like the olive trees of Madaba’s mountains and the wheat on the plains of Houran. I’m staying until Palestine is liberated from the river to the sea … If I win a seat I will liberate Palestine, I promise you, I promise you!"
To driving a tractor:
He even boasts about his adoring fan club:
“My adoring fans are the most beautiful women, and they stop me for autographs.”
His most recent bout with the media was over his mullet-like straight hair. When accused of wearing a wig in public, Haddad responded “This is natural beauty, my hair is naturally straight.”
Haddad, like Trump, built himself on the spectacle he's created. Staged photos of being an everyman, massive and ambitious promises, ambiguous claims about conspiracies, even the strange hairstyle make comparisons between the two easy. Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is that Trump's antics catapulted him to the Republican nomination - and Haddad has experienced little success in his political career.
Nevertheless, with just under a month until Election Day in Jordan, Haddad will have plenty of opportunity to seek out the attention he’s built his name on in the past few years.