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State

Capital

Jordan

Amman

Currency unit

Jordanian Dinar

Connections

Arabs

Empire

Islam

Israel

Levant

Ottomans

Palestine

War

 Politics

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History

This is a small kingdom created at the end of the first world war.

In the same area there was the Nabataean kingdom in Roman times. It left us the city of Petra, a stone carved ruin. Then the area was conquered by the Romans and later by the Arabs.

During the Ottoman empire it was part of the Vilayet (governorate) of Esh Sham (Damascus). That is, it has no historic integrity as a state. Hafez Assad the former ruler of Syria claimed that Jordan, along with Palestine, is a historic part of Syria.

The kingdom was created, as Transjordan, by the British when with Palestine it was given as a Mandated Territory to Britain by the League of Nations. The British made Abdullah the king, after assuring him that Jews would not be permitted to settle there. Abdullah was the younger of the two sons of the Sharif Hussein of Makkah (the ruler of the Hejaz before the Sauds conquered it), whose Hashemite family is descended directly from Mohammed. The British ruled the kingdom from Jerusalem. The elder son went to Baghdad.

In the war accompanying the creation of Israel Jordan occupied much of the area designated as Arab Palestine by the UN. Some Israeli governments have claimed that therefore Jordan is Palestine and that there is no need for a Palestinian state (and all the Palestinians should go and live there). Abdullah was assassinated in 1951 by a Palestinian. His son Hussein became king and he survived numerous assassination attempts.

In 1958 the two Hashemite kings of Iraq and Jordan declared they were forming a Hashemite Union of the two countries as a response to the United Arab Republic of Syria and Egypt. However, Feisal of Iraq was overthrown in the same year and the union never took place. At that time both countries were aligned with the western powers and had pro-British governments. Since then king Hussein has tried to be neutral in order to maintain the independence of Jordan, even though Jordan has little independent power of its own. This is a much admired balancing act, which has survived all the subsequent disturbances of the Middle East.

In 1967 the Israelis conquered the West Bank of Jordan and have occupied it ever since. At present Jordan has designated this occupied area as Palestine and no longer claims jurisdiction over it.

In September 1970 (Black September, according to some Palestinians) Hussein reduced the power of the Palestinians operating as a state with the state by attacking their camps. The result was the assertion of Jordan's independence.

Jordan has no oil and is dependent on Syria and Iraq and on remittances from oil workers for revenue. Its main economic importance is that Aqaba is the most convenient port for Iraq's imports, especially of weapons during the war with Iran.

King Hussein of Jordan has tried to balance the influence of Syria with Iraq but, in 1990, appeared to be an ally of Iraq. The sanctions against Iraq caused serious economic disruption to Jordan. There was a large popular enthusiasm for Saddam Hussein who was seen as the only Arab ruler who has apparently threatened Israel and therefore the king was unable to act against Iraq, though privately he may well have deplored Saddam's actions.

The Kuwait war damaged Jordan's economy by cutting off its tourists and preventing the transit trade to Baghdad. Over a million refugees passed through Jordan escaping from Iraq and Kuwait. Its future remains as uncertain as it has since its creation.

Long shot
Could the king head a new Hashemite union following Saddam Hussein's overthrow? Feisal the brother of Abdullah, the founder of the state, wished to be king of the whole Arab area.

Peace with Israel?
Following the PLO agreement with Israel, king Hussein of Jordan joined negotiations with Israel. This was a dangerous path but might result in a Palestine-Jordan federation. Peace was signed 26 July 1994. Commentators wondered if it would last.

So far (Oct 2002) relative peace has been maintained.

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Politics

There is an elected assembly which contains a large number of Muslim Brotherhood MPs. The government is in practice chosen by the king but he has to take into account the wishes of the assembly.

For many years the heir to the kingdom was believed to be the former king's brother, Hassan. However, shortly before King Hussein died of cancer he named his son Abdullah as successor, apparently without warning. He seems to have continued his father's policies.

Multi party elections were held in November 1993. Islamic parties gained a large bloc in parliament but not a majority.

Does the kingdom owe its survival to being ruled by a Hashemite (descendant of the Prophet)?

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

Jordan depends on tourism and trade for much of its income. Agriculture is constrained by lack of water. Water can be controlled by Israel.
The Kuwait war severely damaged the economy. The Americans saw Jordan as an ally of Iraq and therefore refused to help.
The Iraq invasion has also damaged the economy, with the influx of refugees.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

Human Rights

Not as bad as in other Arab countries, but not good.

Climate effects

A two degree increase will make the whole area even drier. What rain there is, in the north of the country, may well cease altogether.

Last revised 7/01/10


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