Jordan Country History

Jordan History

According to aceinland, the Jordanian state was born in fact in 1921, when ʽAbd Allāh ibn al-Ḥusayn, son of Sheriff al-Ḥusayn, was accepted by Great Britain, a mandatory power in Palestine, as emir of Transjordan. Official recognition of the emirate took place in 1923; in 1946 a treaty with Great Britain ended the mandate and ʽAbd Allāh proclaimed himself king of Jordan. The kingdom, which the previous year had participated in the establishment of the Arab League, was admitted to the UN in 1956. In 1948, on the occasion of the first Arab-Israeli conflict, the Jordanian army occupied a large part of the territory attributed by the United Nations to the Palestinian Arab state and in 1949 ʽAbd Allāh concluded a unilateral armistice with Israel; the following year the annexation of the West Bank was officially proclaimed. This policy sharpened the resentment of many Arabs and was one of the causes of the assassination, by a Palestinian, of the first king of Jordan (1951). After a short reign of his son, Talāl (1951-52), Ḥusayn II ascended the throne (1953). He could not ignore the lively demands for political participation and the nationalist orientation of the Palestinians. After initially trying to resist, he was forced to inaugurate a new course: in 1956 he fired JB Glubb, the British army commander, refused to join the Baghdad Pact, called free elections that decreed the success of the nationalist left. But in 1957 the king recovered the lost ground in a coup and the following year Jordan formed the ephemeral Arab Union with Iraq, soon demolished by the Iraqi revolution of July 1958. From 1957 to 1967 Jordan was part, despite some surface skirmishes, by the front of the conservative Arab countries, hostile to Nasser. The critical situation that arose in May 1967 convinced King Ḥusayn to conclude a military agreement with the RAU: in June Jordan participated in the war against Israel and lost the West Bank. The defeat, the influx of Palestinian refugees, the growing strength of guerrilla organizations aggravated the tension in Jordan. Ḥusayn, having abandoned the initial and ambiguous solidarity attitude towards the guerrillas, brutally crushed them in the autumn of 1970 (Black September). During the 1973 war, Jordan preferred not to engage fully against Israel. The Arab Conference of Rabat (1974), recognizing the PLO as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, he forced King Ḥusayn to abandon all claims on Jordan; a notable improvement in inter-Arab relations ensued.

After taking a position contrary to the Camp David agreements between Egypt and Israel in 1978, Jordan gradually approached the US thesis (creation of an independent Palestinian territory in the West Bank, associated with Jordan); in 1984, relations with the PLO improved, Ḥusayn reaffirmed his support for the Palestinian cause and in 1985 drafted a joint document with ʽArafāt, about the convening of a special international conference. This alliance, undermined by the closure of the PLO offices in ‘Ammān and in 1987 by the affirmation of the impossibility of an immediate agreement for the formation of a federated Palestinian state with Jordan, was reconsolidated during the AlʽAqabah summit (October 1988). To the serious tensions caused by the Palestinian question, of which Jordan was one of the protagonists, were added the bloody clashes caused by the drastic economic measures (April 1989) and the awakening of Islamic fundamentalism. The religious movement of the Muslim Brotherhood it made a good success in the political elections that were held (November 1989) 22 years after the previous ones, managing to win 20 of the 80 seats. The persistence of economic difficulties and the precariousness of the political situation led the Jordanian sovereign to declare the neutrality of his country on the occasion of the crisis caused by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (2 August 1990) and the consequent international mobilization that resulted in the Gulf War. It was a position dictated by the need to reconcile the needs of a vast internal public opinion in favor of the Iraqi leader, while avoiding new conflicts with Israel and with the countries coalesced against Iraq. The choice proved far-sighted because it allowed the resumption of relations with the USA and the Arab nations that had participated in the conflict. The new position on the international scene was also favored by the internal political change which, on the basis of a national charter (June 1992) with which the principles of pluralism were consecrated, led to a new government. The exclusion from the executive of the four ministers belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, opposed to any peace dialogue with Israel, placed Jordan in the condition to play an active role in the very preparation of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East which opened in Madrid on 30 October 1991. Although the decision to continue the work of the Conference in Washington had provoked an internal political crisis with the resignation of Prime Minister Taher al-Masri, the course set for Jordanian foreign policy remained steadfast and led to a first bilateral commitment with Israel (September 1993).

The choice was also rewarded within the country when the first truly multi-party elections (November 1993) were won by moderate forces at the same time as a downsizing of the Muslim Brotherhood. This further strengthened Jordan’s diplomatic activity which led to the establishment of direct relations with the Vatican on 3 March 1994 and on 7 June of the same year to the agreement with Israel for the appointment of a joint commission charged with resolving the latest open questions on water resources, the environment, borders. An agreement reached in 1995, within the framework of the Israel-PLO agreements, also led to the gradual withdrawal of Israeli army units from some cities in the West Bank, to place them under Palestinian jurisdiction: first of all Nablus. The Jordanian population’s support for the government line was demonstrated by the outcome of the administrative elections, held on 11 July 1995. On the occasion, in fact, the most important opposition party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), suffered a clear defeat to the advantage of the leaders of the various local tribes. On the international level, King Ḥusayn benefited from the first effects of the achieved peace with Israel. The United States and Japan, in fact, allocated large amounts of funding to ‘Ammān, while relations with Saudi Arabia, interrupted during the Gulf War, began to normalize. Jordan’s international relocation led it to an ever closer relationship with the USA, so much so that the two countries established military collaborations by carrying out joint maneuvers near the borders with Iraq (August 1995); relations with Saudi Arabia (February 1996) also improved, which had not yet forgiven the choice of neutrality made by King Ḥusayn during the Gulf War. Increasingly understood in the role of mediator in the still open dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, the Jordanian sovereign harshly criticized (March 1997) the choice of the Israeli premier Netanyahu to proceed with the plan of new settlements in the Arab part of Jerusalem. It was a political criticism, conducted in an open and transparent way which, however, failed to bring about a substantial crisis between Jordan and Israel; on the contrary, the Jordanian sovereign resumed playing the role of mediator and, in October 1998, was the great architect, together with US President Clinton, of the ” Wye Memorandum “, the agreement signed in Washington by the Palestinian leader ‘Arafāt and by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who represented a fundamental step in the Middle East peace process. The king died in 1999, leaving the throne in the hands of his son ‘Abd Allāh II, appointed regent a few days earlier in place of Ḥasan, Ḥusayn’s younger brother, accused of abuse of power. The new king, despite the climate of tension due to the war in Iraq to the problems of the Palestinian people, was able to carry out the traditional policy of equidistance between the Arab world and Western interests. In 2005, three serious attacks attributed to Al-Qāiʽda in ʽAmmān provoked a tightening of Jordanian politics, the king replaced the prime minister by appointing the head of national security Marouf al-Bakhit in his place. In the elections of September 2007, the independents prevailed, linked to the sovereign’s entourage; for the first time a woman was elected; Nader al-Dahabi was appointed prime minister. In 2009 the sovereign appointed his eldest son Hussein bin al-Abdallah (b.1994) heir to the throne, excluding his half-brother Hamzah al-Hussein from the succession, while Samir Zaid al-Rifai became prime minister. In November 2010, legislative elections were held, won by an overwhelming majority of pro-government candidates, while the opposition led by the Islamic Action Front boycotted the elections.

Jordan Country History

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