Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah

Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah

Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah

Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah

Synopsis

A cogent and compelling analysis of Jordan's domestic and international politics

Excerpt

In February 1999, King Hussein Ibn Talal of Jordan died after years of battling cancer. The king's funeral drew political leaders and dignitaries from all over the world to Jordan's capital, Amman. This massive entourage of world leaders ranged from President Bill Clinton of the United States, to Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom, to such political rivals of the king as President Hafiz al-Asad of Syria. Presidents, prime ministers, emirs, and kings joined in the procession, providing a vivid symbol of the geopolitical importance attached to Jordan under King Hussein. The death of the Jordanian monarch, who had ruled the Hashimite throne since 1953, was certainly a dramatic and historic turning point for the kingdom and to a large extent for the region as well.

King Hussein had ruled Jordan for forty-six years. Indeed, Hussein had ruled for so long that he had developed a local, regional, and even global reputation as the great “survivor” of Middle East politics. Most Jordanians had known no other ruler in their lifetimes. Hussein's death in 1999 marked the end of an era in some respects, and the beginning of a major transition in the kingdom. But at the time of King Hussein's death, Jordanian politics was also marking the tenth year of a program of political and economic liberalization. The succession within the monarchy marked not the first major transition in years, but rather the fourth. The kingdom had already begun a comprehensive process of transition in its economy, its domestic politics, and its foreign policy. Specifically, Jordan had since 1989 begun a difficult program of economic adjustment and restructuring, while also embarking on a process of political liberalization and democratization. Shortly thereafter, in . . .

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