Jordan History

Jordan History

From the birth of the Kingdom to the 1967 war

According to localcollegeexplorer, the emirate of Transjordan was founded in 1921, and officially recognized in 1923, under ‛Abd Allāh, hashimite, son of king Ḥusain of Ḥigiāz. Entrusted to Great Britain until 1946, when the emir assumed the title of king, the country maintained close ties with London even after independence. Following the occupation (1 in Arab-Israeli War, 1948-49) and the subsequent annexation of the West Bank (the old city of Jerusalem), the kingdom took the name of Jordan. ‛Abd Allāh, killed in an attack in 1951, was succeeded by his son Ṭalāl and, when he was deposed for insanity, his nephew Ḥusain (1953). Jordan, a member of the Arab League since 1945, then established closer relations with the Arab states; in 1956 the English Glubb Pasha was removed from the command of the Jordanian armed forces and in 1957 the last British troops were withdrawn.

The renewed Arab solidarity did not prevent Ḥusain from feeling the creation of the United Arab Republic, born from the union of Egypt and Syria (1958), as a hidden threat against Jordanian independence; then, in February 1958, he promoted the ephemeral Arab Union with a dynastic base between Jordan and Iraq, which collapsed with the Iraqi coup d’état of the following July. The prospect of an imminent confrontation with Israel was the basis (May 1967) of the common defense convention, signed in Cairo by Nasser and from Ḥusain: in the conflict (5-10 June) Jordan lost the Arab part of Jerusalem (which Israel actually annexed) with the more fertile and irrigated territory, that of the West Bank, taking on a further and conspicuous number of refugees, in addition to those already accepted in 1948, coming from the territories then conquered by Israel.

The Palestinian problem

Formations of Palestinian guerrillas established their bases in Jordan, conducting armed actions against Israel, which retaliated with reprisals in Jordanian territory. The tension between the guerrillas and the Amman authorities escalated into civil war in September 1970 (‘ Black September ‘), which ended in 1971 with the expulsion of the Palestinian guerrillas, an act that left Jordan isolated in the Arab world. In an attempt to recover and reintroduce the West Bank into his state, in 1972 King Ḥusain formulated a project for a united Arab kingdom in a federal form consisting of a Jordanian region (with Amman as the capital of the federation) and a Palestinian region (the West Bank with Jerusalem as its capital). but the plan was rejected by both Israel and the Palestinians and Arab countries. Ḥusain claimed sovereignty over the West Bank until 1974, when at the Arab summit in Rabat he was forced to recognize the PLO as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and implicitly accept the hypothesis of the formation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank. This ended Jordan’s isolation in the Arab world.

For fear of a return to isolation, Jordan condemned the separate peace between Egypt and Israel (1979), simultaneously celebrating an official reconciliation with the PLO, but relations with Syria worsened again due to Jordanian military support for Iraq. in the war against Iran, supported by Syria (1980-88). After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (1982), Ḥusain’s old project, aimed at regaining control over the West Bank through the birth of a Jordanian-Palestinian federation, was relaunched by the so-called Reagan plan, which included a form of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank and Gaza in association with Jordan. In this perspective, the Hashimite ruler initiated on the one hand negotiations with the PLO and on the other hand tried to reconstitute a Palestinian representation within the Jordanian institutions; on this occasion the right to vote was recognized for the first time for women. Negotiations with the PLO resulted in the agreement (1985) with ‛Arafāt for a peace initiative in the Middle East, soon broken and followed by a new deterioration of relations. The policy in favor of Egypt’s return to the Arab League was more successful: in 1985 Jordan was the first Arab state to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cairo (discontinued since 1979).

When the agreement with ‛Arafāt failed, Ḥusain tried to promote a new moderate and pro-Jordanian Palestinian leadership, also trying to increase his influence in the occupied territories; the project (which was expressed among other things in a development plan for the West Bank and Gaza, launched in 1986 with Israeli support) was radically called into question by the explosion of the intifada in 1987, which underlined its character as a subject autonomy of the Palestinians and their broad support for the PLO. After the summit in Algiers (1988), which reaffirmed the Arab League’s support for the birth of an independent Palestinian state, Jordan put an end to the legal and administrative ties maintained after 1967 with the West Bank (the development plan was also canceled of 1986).

Regional and internal policy

In 1989, the first general elections since 1967 were held for a Chamber of Deputies composed only of representatives of Transjordan. With the persistent ban on political parties since 1957, only the Muslim Brotherhood was able to present itself in the elections as a charitable organization, while the other candidates were all independent: the victory went to the moderates, more or less in favor of the traditional policy of Ḥusain. The National Charter launched in 1991 reaffirmed the role of Islam among the foundations of legislation and national identity and lifted the ban on parties, as long as they declared loyalty to the monarchy. However, the internal evolution remained conditioned by the regional situation.

Heavy consequences for Jordan was in 1990 the crisis that followed Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait: the economic damage caused by the sanctions against Iraq were added political ones arising from the gap between the Jordan (opposed to armed intervention against ‘ Iraq) and its traditional Western and Arab partners (Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies). Ḥusain tried to revive relations with these countries by joining in 1991 the peace conference for the Middle East promoted by Jordan Bush and M. Gorbačëv. In the following years, the government was faced with the difficulty of reconciling the economic needs of the country, which required the resumption of relations with Western and Arab partners and an opening towards Tel Aviv, with the pro-Iraqi and anti-Israeli orientation of internal public opinion. In an attempt to regain a mediating role, the monarchy intensified international relations: relations with the United States and the Gulf countries improved; the negotiations with Israel resulted in the 1994 peace treaty, which provided, among other things, for Jordan’s recognition of a special role in the protection of the sacred places of Jerusalem and was followed by the start of economic and commercial relations. The treaty with Israel once again compromised relations with the Palestinian National Authority, which however improved in 1995, with the signing of an agreement that reaffirmed Amman’s recognition of Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem.

Internally, the policy of cautious liberalization continued. In 1993 the first multi-party elections took place, won by independent candidates linked to the king, also winners of the subsequent consultations in 1997, 2003 and 2008 (in 2001 the second intifada caused such a climate of tension in the country that the crown decided to postpone the elections).

Ḥusain died in February 1999, his son ‛Abdallāh II ascended the throne, who promoted the rapprochement of Jordan to Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon, while remaining in close relations with the United States, whose aid is vital for the country. In domestic politics, the king’s reform plans for growing political-cultural liberalization and economic development have largely remained on paper, due to ongoing internal and international tensions. After the terrorist activity carried out by Al Qaeda in Amman in 2005, the reform intentions were further blocked, leading to the appointment of several prime ministers by the king, among which must be mentioned A. Ensour, appointed in 2012 and reconfirmed – for the first time in the history of the country – by the Parliament formed following the 2013 elections,‛Abdallāh II, after the approval of the new electoral law, to form a new government. In the following period, the increase in public debt forced the new executive to launch a series of tax reforms, supported by the International Monetary Fund, and to introduce sales taxes on primary goods, this generating serious unrest in the streets that in June 2018 forced the -Mulki to resign, taking over from him O. al-Razzaz.

The territory of Jordan preserves important testimonies of the late antique, early Christian and Byzantine periods, as well as those relating to the long Islamic and Ottoman period: to remember the important sites of Gerasa, Kerak, Madaba, Petra etc. whose study began with the archaeological investigations of the 19th century.

The origins of modern art in Jordan are also affected by the presence of foreign artists in the first half of the 20th century. (the painters O. Onsi, Lebanese; Z. Suleiman, Turkish; Jordan Alief, Russian), as well as the birth of schools and cultural institutes (the Italian A. Bruno taught painting in Jordan in 1930-63), and they found a notable development from the years 1960 and 1970; frequent training of young artists abroad (Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Europe, USA, Russia). Among the painters, the pioneer M. Durra, who introduced cubism and abstraction in Jordan the abstract artists F. Zeid, born in İstanbul and moved to Jordan from 1975, Wijdan, K. Khreis; among the sculptors S. Tabbaa, K. Nimri. In the architectural field, a notable figure is that of F. Muhanna, author of important public buildings in Amman.

Jordan History