Jordan in Transition 1990-2000

Article excerpt

JORDAN IN TRANSITION 1990-2000, George Joffe, ed., Palgrave Press, New York, 402 pages, 2002, $69.95.

Because it is Iraq's largest trading partner, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan matters in the complex diplomacy and military posturing of the Middle East. Jordan in Transition 19900 -0 2000 compares Jordan with World War I and II-era Belgium. Hos tile regimes coveted Jordan's territory while on their way to invading or striking Israel. Jordan's stability is important to maintaining peace in the region.

Nineteen scholars write about the domestic, economic, social, and political changes Jordan has faced in the last decade (1990-2000). Markus Bouillon of Oxford University examines the careful balancing act that King Abdullah I, King Hussein, and the current monarch, King Abdullah II, have undertaken to maintain their independence from hostile dictatorships like those in Syria and Iraq.

Jordan nearly lost its identity to Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul-Nasser and to uncontrollable Palestinian Liberation Organization fighters. Internally Jordan contends with a sizable Palestinian population as well as tribes whose loyalties it guarantees through social and economic benefits.

King Hussein, brutally honest about Jordan's economic vulnerabilities, declared Jordan's bankruptcy before the 1990 Arab Summit. To bolster its Arab nationalist credentials before invading Kuwait, Iraq provided Jordan with 80 percent of its oil requirements, which might explain why Jordan did not openly join an anti-Baghdad coalition. …