Only 16 years old, Hussein became king of
Jordan in 1952; for a whole 47 years he was then in
power. He governed domestic politics with an iron hand.
He supported foreign policy in the West, primarily the
United States. He opposed a Palestinian state, which
made him unfriendly to other Arab countries, but
relations gradually improved. After several wars, with
large Palestinian refugee flows to Jordan as a result, a
peace agreement with Israel was also concluded in 1994.
Elder son Abdullah took over the kingdom at Hussein's
death in 1999.
When Israel proclaimed independence in 1948,
Transjordan and other Arab countries attacked the new
state. The trans-Jordanian forces conquered the West
Bank and East Jerusalem, which according to a 1947 UN
resolution would be part of a Palestinian state.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Jordan. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
In 1949, Transjordanian King Abdullah was proclaimed
king over all of Palestine (that is, Transjordania and
the conquered territories). At the same time, the
country changed its name to Jordan. The Palestinian
territories were formally incorporated into Jordan in
Abdullah was afterwards regarded by many as a traitor
and in 1951 he was murdered by a Palestinian. The
following year the power went to his only 16-year-old
grandson Hussein. The young King Hussein tolerated no
opposition. In 1957, martial law was introduced after a
coup attempt and all political parties were banned. The
king then ruled the country almost single-handedly.
The former British influence was replaced by US
economic and military aid. Jordan's relations with other
Arab countries were poor, partly because the country
opposed an independent Palestinian state.
Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser took the
initiative in 1964 to the Palestinian Liberation
Organization (PLO), which would be the only legitimate
language tube of the Palestinian people. The PLO would
be funded by the Arab League and recruit soldiers into a
Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA). King Hussein opposed
In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel conquered the West
Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, thus losing
important agricultural and tourism revenue in these
areas. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of
Palestinian refugees poured into Jordan. When the PLO
was taken over by Palestinian guerrilla movements in
1969, with Yasir Arafat's Fatah at the forefront, King
Hussein's authority was challenged and he was forced to
balance between the royal-friendly groups and the
increasing Palestinian population's demands for
The PLO grew stronger and attacked Israel, leading to
Israeli punitive actions on Jordanian soil. The PLO
developed into a state in the state and the tension
between the PLO and the Hussein regime changed in
September 1970 ("Black September") into civil war. The
guerrilla was crushed for six months and its members
were expelled from Jordan. The rest of the Arab world
reacted strongly to Hussein's actions.
King Hussein reconciled with Egypt and Syria's
leaders just before the Arab-Israeli war in 1973, when
Jordan lined up troops on Syria's side. One year later,
at an Arab summit, Hussein was forced to accept the PLO
as the Palestinians' only legitimate representative and
his relations with the Arab world improved. When a
Palestinian uprising, the intifada, broke out on the
West Bank in 1987, it received King Hussein's support
and helped him to renounce all territorial claims in the
West Bank in 1988. When the PLO indirectly acknowledged
the state of Israel and withdrew from terrorism, the
path was opened for Palestinian-American dialogue. In
1991, peace negotiations between Israel and a
Jordanian-Palestinian delegation began, and three years
later Jordan and Israel signed a peace agreement.
During the 1970s, King Hussein pushed through
constitutional changes that put Parliament out of
business for ten years. When Parliament was re-convened
and elections were held in 1984, opposition was seen
solely as a way to mitigate growing criticism of the
regime. Political parties were still banned.
In 1989, violent riots broke out in several Jordanian
cities after the government implemented sharp price
increases following demands for austerity measures from
the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The riots caused the king to announce parliamentary
elections that year. Political parties were not allowed
to stand and the majority of the seats went to royal
independent candidates. In the 1992 elections, political
parties were again allowed to participate, but most of
the seats went to independent candidates in the
conservative and royal camp. When the parliamentary
elections were held in 1997, it was boycotted by several
By the mid-1990s, the country's economy had
deteriorated and reduced grain subsidies led to higher
bread prices. It triggered new rattles in the south that
quickly spread to Amman's poor suburbs. The riots were
brutally fought and hundreds of people arrested.
King Hussein died in 1999. He had been in power for
47 years, longer than any other leader in the Middle
East. Shortly before his death, he had unexpectedly
moved the throne from Brother Hassan to his eldest son
Abdullah. Upon his accession, Abdullah carried out a
series of reforms. But the trend toward a more open
society soon came to an end when King Abdullah's
government felt compelled to prevent fundamentalist
Islamic groups such as Palestinian Hamas from
strengthening their influence.
After a new intifada broke out among the Palestinians
on the West Bank and in Gaza 2000, the Jordanian
government pushed for security and freedom of the press
for security reasons. Further restrictions were imposed
after the terrorist attacks in the United States on
September 11, 2001. The parliamentary elections that
should have been held in 2001 were postponed until 2003.
The lower house continued to be dominated by royalists.
Following the assassination of an American in Amman in
2002, Jordanian police arrested hundreds of suspected
The regime sought to pursue a policy that safeguarded
good relations with the United States without
challenging US hostile domestic opinion. When the US-led
war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq broke out in March
2003, King Abdullah chose to act outwardly as a cautious
critic, but he secretly allowed the United States to use
Jordanian military bases to attack Iraq.
In 2005, suicide bombers carried out coordinated
attacks on three hotels in Amman where foreigners often
live. More than 50 people were killed, most of them
Jordanians. The investigation found that a group of
Iraqis with contacts with the notorious Jordanian
terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had carried out the deed.
In 2006, Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike in Iraq.
In 2008, 24 of the country's 36 parties lost their
permission to act politically as they did not meet new
requirements (see Political system). In the same year,
King Abdullah appointed his eldest son, then 15-year-old
Hussein bin Abdullah, to crown prince.
In protest against a new electoral law, the largest
opposition party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), chose
to boycott the elections in November 2010. The new
electoral law increased the number of MPs, but was still
considered to disadvantage the opposition even more than
before. After the election, the Parliament consisted of
an overwhelming majority of members who supported the