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Summary on Modern Day Jordan

 

    Jordan is a small country in size (approximately 90,000km2), yet mighty in its Hashemite leadership, its history, and its relationship with other nations. It is possible to say that Jordan, the country, is a museum, rich in ancient history reaching back 1.5million years.

    Jordan has a strategic position within the region. Historically, Jordan was the center and a crossroads for caravans trading on the Silk Road and Incense Road.  In respect religion, Jordan contains religious and historical sites throughout the country for the three major western religions.

     Geographically, Jordan is bordered in the north by Syria, by Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea at the south, Israel and West Bank border the west of Jordan, and Iraq/Saudi Arabia the east. The lowest point in Jordan, and the entire world, is the Dead Sea at 414m below sea level. The highest point in Jordan is Jabal Um Al-Dami in Wadi Rum at 1854m above Sea level.

      The official language of Jordan is Arabic and the official religion is Islam. There is also a minority of Christians-- most of whom are Greek Orthodox. The country is also ethnically diverse, with Circassians, Armenians, and Chechnians.  A small population of Druze live in the far north.

      The political system in Jordan is a centralized state system, governed by a parliamentary system and a constitutional hereditary monarchy.

 

The Establishment of Modern Day Jordan

    In the 16th century, Turkey captured the Arab world, placing it under Ottoman rule until the beginning of the 20th century.  The Arab Revolution was begun by the Hashemites of al-Hijaz (Saudi Arabia), and with the help of the British, they overthrew the Turks in 1916.  This overthrow of the Turks was not unique as Western powers had already successfully taken over Northern Africa from Ottoman rule during the 19th century.  What was unique about the experience in the Ottomans' overthrow in the Middle East was the British assistance to the Arabs, but at the same time, their preparation to grant Palestine to the Jewish nation.

    During the days of the Arab Revolution, there was not the country of Jordan as we know it today.  From the Jordan River eastwards and three-quarters of Jordan to the south was part of TransDamascus.  Prince Abdullah came from Saudi ARabia to Ma'an in 1920 to help the people of TransDamascus fight the French colonizers.  When the French got word of Abdallah's intentions and to avoid Abdallah's advance on Damascus, the French agreed with the British to give Abdallah the land lying to the east of the Jordan River and call it TransJordan.  This handover occurred in 1921.  In 1925, Prince Abdallah agreed with his brother Ali, Prince of the Hijaz, to expand TransJordan's southern borders to include Ma'an and the Gulf of Aqaba.  The first constitution was put forth by Prince Abdallah in 1928.  Yet TransJordan was not an independent country as it fell under the British Regency Council.  This relationship was economic, military and political in nature.

    In 1946, TransJordan won its independence from the British.  Prince Abdallah then assumed the throne to become King Abdallah I, naming the country the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  King Abdallah I did not remain king for lone, as he was killed inside Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, on July 20th, 1951.  According to the hereditary monarchy, his son, Talal assume the throne in September, 1951.  However, due to Kind Talal's "illness", he could not continue in his role as king and he "resigned" in August of 1952.  His eldest son, Hussein, assumed the throne the same month, but due to his age (he was 17 years old at the time), a Regency Council was established until May 2, 1953 when Hussein officially assumed his responsibilities as king.

King Hussein bin Talal

    KIng Hussein was born in Amman on 14 November, 1935.  As as child, he attended private schools in Amman and went on to receive his advanced training from Sandhurst Military College in England.

    King Hussein was 17 years old when he assumed his role as the head of the government.  He rule Jordan for 46 years, the longest single rule by an individual in the 20th century.  During these 46 years he succeeded in developing the country to what it is today.  He must be recognized for his great accomplishments in creating the country's infrastructure of the country, and by providing education and health to nearly all people.  Despite years of political problems within Jordan, he managed to surpass them and keep the country a whole.

    During the reign, King Hussein had to overcome many economic and political problems associated with the influx of refugees coming to Jordan for the past 50 years.  Whereas some political leaders may not have been able to meet this challenge, King Hussein successfully led his country through these difficult times.

    King Hussein not only struggled for peace within his own country, but also for peace in the Middle East during his reign.  In 1991, King Hussein played an important role in convening the Madrid Peace Conference, allowing for Palestinians to negotiate their future as part of the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.  The 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel is another major step towards achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.

    On the more personal side, Kind Hussein married four times during his lifetime.  His first wife was Dina bint ABdulhamid or Princess Dina, an Egyptian.  His second wife was British, name Antionette Gardner or Princess Muna.  Hussein's third wife, Alia Toukan or Queen Alia, a Palestinian, was killed in a helicopter crash at the age of 28.  Finally, King Hussein married his fourth wife, Queen Noor or Lisa Halaby, to whom he remained married until his death.

    King Hussein is survived by 12 children.  He as five sons--Abdallah, Feisal, Ali, Hamzeh and Hashim--and 7 daughters--Alia, Zein, Aisha, Haya, Iman, Raiyah and Abeer (adopted).

    King Hussein was the eldest of four children.  He had two brothers, Prince Mohammad and Prince El Hassan, and one sister, Princess Bessma.

    The life of King Hussein has been the subject of several books, two of which he was author--Uneasy Lies the Head (1962) AND My War with Israel (1969).

    King Hussein died February 7, 1999 after a long struggle with lymphatic and spinal cancer.  He was 64 years old.  Two weeks before his death King Hussein left his crown to his eldest son, Abdallah.

King Abdallah II

    King Abdallah Ii, born in January, 1962, assumed the throne immediately after his father's death.

    King ABdallah began his education at the Islamic Educational College in Amman.  He went on to receive his secondary education from St. Edmond's School (England), Eaglebrook School (USA) and Deerfield Academy (USA).  In 1980, he entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst where he received his military education.  Oxford was the next destination for King Abdallah where he attended a Special Studies course in International Politics for one year in 1984.  After returning to Jordan assuming a position with the Royal Jordanian Air Force, King Abdallah returned to the US where he attended Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service as a Mid-Career Fellow.

    Dedicated to serving in the military, King Abdallah reached the rank of Major General in 1998; the year after he was appointed the Commander of the Special Operations Command.  This was his last position in the military before assuming the throne.

    In his new role as Jordan's monarch, King Abdallah has turned much of his attention to solving Jordan's economic crisis.  The King has also shown special interest in bringing Jordan current with the latest internet technology.

    King Abdallah II is married to Rania Al-Yassin (Queen Rania)>  They have three children:  Hussein, Iman and Selma.

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