Jordan in the Early 2000s

By | June 6, 2022

The reign of ̔Abd Allāh ii, who ascended to the throne on the death of his father Ḥusayn (February 1999), was characterized starting from its debut by a strong continuity with the past, which allowed Jordan to confirm its role within the Middle Eastern panorama of a moderate and substantially stable country. But the good commercial and diplomatic relations with Western countries, the United States in the lead, the policy of detente towards Israel (ratified by the 1994 peace agreements) and finally the choices in internal politics of the Hāscimite monarchy, little inclined to religious rigorism and determined to eliminate radical Islamism, they have exposed the country on several occasions to internal protest and the threats of terrorism.

Within the sphere of internal politics, ̔Abd Allāh ii already a few months after his accession to the throne launched a campaign of arrests and expulsions against the leaders of the Islamist group Ḥamās, whose offices in the capital ̔Ammān were closed, and at the same time he committed the political class in a work of democratization of the institutions, which nevertheless had few successes and provoked, in June 2000, a change in the leadership of the government. The new prime minister, A. Abu al-Rageb, welcomed by reformist circles, should have put an end to corruption, as well as speed up the implementation of the economic reform plan and prepare the country for the new legislative elections. ̔Abd Allāh iihe was also personally involved in the campaign for reform and also for the modernization of customs: for example, in the case of the battle against male impunity in honor killings. The resistance of society and the political world, and the condemnation of Islamic religious leaders, blocked the way to the discussion on the article of the penal code in question, whose amendment was rejected twice in Parliament (Nov. 1999 and Feb. 2000). At the same time, however, the monarchy remained exposed to criticism from humanitarian organizations that contested the censorship of press freedom and frequent violations of human rights.

According to Homosociety, the political scene of the earliest years of the 21st century. was dominated by the postponement of electoral consultations, initially scheduled for 2001, and postponed by the king due to the climate of tension in the country and throughout the Middle East due to the threats of attack by the United States on Irāq (an attack which later took place in March 2003). Meanwhile, the demand for the Hāscimite monarchy to interrupt all relations with Israel was growing in Jordan and in the neighboring Arab countries, and on more than one occasion large mass demonstrations in Amman and in the Palestinian refugee camps threatened public order, reinforcing the positions of the most radical party that had always rejected the 1994 agreement with Israel (rejectionist front).

The political elections of June 2003 recorded, as always, the success of the candidates close to the Hāscimiti and expression of the various tribes, who won a total of 80 of the 110 seats. The Islamic Action Front, the largest opposition party, won 17 seats. According to a provision passed in February, 6 seats were reserved for female candidates. While a high level of alert was maintained at the borders in an attempt to avoid terrorist attacks, the security services received information about attacks in preparation. In April 2005 the commitment of ̔Abd Allāh ii was renewed for the reforms, through the appointment of a new pro-Western head of cabinet, A. Badran: the reformist approach of the crown was unable, however, to circumvent the opposition of the more traditional and religious sectors of the country. On 19 August of the same year, a missile launched against a US warship anchored in the port of al-̔Aqaba nearly hit the target, killing a Jordanian soldier. Another missile exploded, but without consequences, near a military hospital in the same city, and a third was launched near the airport of the Israeli city of Eilat, but did not explode. On November 9, a violent joint terrorist action hit the country: 59 people were killed and over a hundred injured in the triple suicide attack against three large hotels in the center of ̔Ammān. The attack was claimed, like the previous one, by al-Qā̔ida, the terrorist organization presumably led by AM al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian by birth, already sentenced to death in absentia in April 2004 for his alleged involvement in ‘ assassination of a US diplomat in ̔Ammān in October 2002. A second and third death sentences in absentia against him were issued in December 2005 and February 2006.

Israeli-Palestinian relations and Jordan’s role in the peace negotiations between the two peoples constituted the common thread of the foreign policy of the Hāscimite monarchy, which alternated phases of coldness and openness towards the different Israeli governments in office, reiterating however in more occasions the urgency of the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. On the occasion of Abd Allāh ii ‘s visit to Israel (February 2000), the Jordanian delegation stressed the impossibility for the country to welcome other Palestinian refugees and their right to return to their homeland. Ḥamās’ victory in the Palestinian Parliament in January 2006 it was considered a threat by the Hāscimite dynasty which has always feared the radicalization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and above all its dangerous repercussions in Jordan, where the strong presence of Palestinians, mainly concentrated in urban areas, represents a fuse that is always ready to explode; according to data from UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), as of March 31, 2005 the Palestinians in Jordan amounted to a total of 1,780,701.

On the occasion of the war on Afghānistān (Oct 2001) and then the one on Irāq, Jordan confirmed her friendship with the United States, supporting their intervention.

Jordan in the Early 2000s