Abdullah bin-Hussein

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King of Jordan

“I'm sure that there will be a point in time when both the Israelis and Palestinians will want to engage with the Jordanians and others in the region so that there will be an opportunity for us to exchange views. How that will happen I don't know, but we will be there for them when they ask for us to.”

“Well, there has been tremendous violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And I think that both sides, as I said, need to sit down and create confidence-building measures between both parties. It takes the international community and all of us, really, to be able to support both sides to move in that direction.”


You are described by your associates as straightforward, energetic, approachable and hardworking. Born in Amman, the capital of Jordan on January 30, 1962, you are King Hussein's eldest son from his second wife, HRH Princess Muna. You started your education at the Islamic Educational College, left for England in 1966 and entered St. Edmund's School in Surrey. You later attended Deerfield Academy in the United States, where you completed your high school education. You joined Oxford University for a year, graduating in 1984 in special studies in international politics and world affairs. On returning home in 1984, you served as Platoon Commander and Company 2nd-in-command in the 40th Armoured Brigade. Your military service was interrupted three times: to attend the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where you were in residence as mid-career fellow; to attend the All Arms Tactics course at the British School of Infantry; and to attend the Command and Staff College, Camberley, in the United Kingdom.

As commander of the Special Forces, you led a televised operation to rout gunmen from their hideout following the killing of eight people in Amman in 1998. One of the two high-profile assassins was killed in the attack. You marched smartly into the affairs of state on Jan. 25, 1999 after the late Monarch designated you as heir and relieved his brother, HRH Prince Hassan, from his 34-year service as Crown Prince. Your father, the late King Hussein, made the switch due to policy differences with Hassan.

On June 10, 1993, you married Princess Rania Abdullah. You two have one son, His Royal Highness Prince Al Hussein, born June 28, 1994, and one daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Iman, born September 27, 1996. Palestinians living in Jordan say the fact that the newly designated successor to the Jordanian throne is married to one of their own puts a positive twist on the complicated Jordanian-Palestinian relationship.

Officials and ordinary Jordanians had hoped for a longer transition for you. According to a relative, you "have developed excellent knowledge of many economic and political problems facing Jordan from being close to your father and from your work with the army and the country's intricate security portfolio." Many Jordanians say you appear to be a unifying factor for the Royal Hashemite family and you are said to enjoy warm ties with Prince Hassan, who has lent you his support. Your strong friendships with the princes of most Gulf Arab states, many of whom are former university and military academy colleagues, enables you to further improve ties with the oil-rich region.

You understand the unique position of Jordan in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The majority of Jordan’s population is Palestinian, and Jordan is the only country to grant Palestinians citizenship. Up until 1967, Jordan was in control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It was not until 1986 that your father ceded claim over the land to the future Palestinian state and the Palestinian people. You recognize that Jordan must not be too forceful or involved in internal Palestinian affairs due to its prior interest in the territories. However, recently you have sent money to Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine. You also continue to support the Palestinian refugees in Jordan, as in 2008 you began your "Decent Housing for Decent Living" campaign, in which all Jordanian citizens, and Palestinian refugees, were guaranteed a high quality of residential living.

Furthermore, you understand that Jordan has gained much since it has made peace with Israel. Trade with Israel accounted for more than 5% of GNP prior to the outbreak of the Intifada. In addition, Jordan’s relationship with the United States has blossomed as a result of the peace deal with Israel. As a result, Jordan must toe the line of continuing to live peacefully with Israel and supporting the Palestinian people in their political struggle against the occupation. Unfortunately, there are still many Jordanians of Palestinian descent who do not agree with these actions.

As a charismatic and able leader, you have successfully steered your country out of any potential crises with Israel, Palestine, the USA, or the Arab league. You have officially called for Democratic reforms in the Arab World and insist that real democratic reforms are being carried out in Jordan. Critics of your government accuse you of merely talking but not taking any real action, besides taking steps against critics of yours in the media. Recently, you issued a declaration forbidding the detention of journalists in Jordan.

You recognize that Jordan can play a potentially constructive role in achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. In interviews, you repeatedly state that you are optimistic about peace and blame both sides for the spiraling violence of the Intifada that continues into 2005. You are hopeful that one day, two states, Israel and Palestine, could live side by side in safe and secure borders, content with a final settlement that works for both sides. You are willing to expend Jordanian resources to achieve that end.

Because of your desire to seek a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and perhaps because of your western education and strong command of English, you are regarded in the west as a benign and progressive presence. However, within the first three years of your power, prior to the September 11th attacks in the United States, you consistently changed laws in Jordan in order to benefit your views and your favorite parties. In Jordan you are able to change the laws freely, and you did this to ensure that people who supported you were "voted" in to power. You even had the 2001 Parliament elections delayed until 2003. In 2005 your government submitted drafts laws that increased restrictions, prohibiting political and party activities from taking place in clubs, mosques and educational institutions. One pro-Democracy activist had this to say about your reforms

   "There is a huge gap between the king's reform rhetoric and the actual policies.  It's like they are doing all this to impress the West...We are actually cutting back on the freedom of the people."

Also in 2005, nearly half of the 110 MPs held their vote, in the vote of confidence against former Prime Minister Adnan Badran. You appointed him prime minister with the hope of reviving the Arab peace initiative. However, you did not realize that this appointement would anger nearly all of the South of Jordan, as his appointment and his appointees, very much underrepresented the ethnic Transjordanians in the south. Another major reason was that they did not agree with the cabinet's economic views, mainly those regarding exports, foreign aid and investment. As recently as the last year, the economic crisis has also affected these policies. The Red-Dead Canal, which was to run from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, would provide electricity and potable water to many of the Jordanian people. However, this requires enormous funding from countries like the United States and Israel. Your dependence on countries like this has hindered your ability to develop industry and the economy in your own country. This has led to Al Qaeda beginning to use Jordan as a training ground, something that you claim you have under control.

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