Jordan (JO)

Capital

Amman

Population

10.1 million

Constitution

Multi-party parliamentary monarchy

Head of state

HM King Abdullah II

National Day

October 13th 

Jordan's Ambassador to the UK

H.E. Mr Omar Bakart Mnawer Al Nahar

Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, 6 Upper Phillimore Gardens, London, W8 7HA

UK's Ambassador to Jordan

H.E. Ms Bridget Brind OBE

British Embassy Amman, (PO Box 87) Abdoun, 11118 Amman, Jordan

Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Trans-Jordan region was given, under British supervision, to the brother of the figurehead of the revolt, King Abdullah. The state of Transjordan, as it was then known, gained independence in 1946, but British troops remained in the country until 1957. The current king is the great grandson of the first monarch, King Abdullah I.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan may have few natural resources but it often punches above its weight when it comes to regional politics. It is a key ally of the United States and together with Egypt, the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain, is one of 5 Arab countries to have normalised relations with Israel and the second, after Egypt, to have done so.

History

Jordan's strategic importance down the years is largely based in its location, slap bang at the centre of what the 3 main Abraham faiths call the Holy Land.

Jordan emerged as a kingdom from the post-First World War division by the UK and France of what had been Ottoman Empire territory in the Middle East.

Much of the surrounding region has been at war for the past decade, resulting in Jordan having one of the highest refugee populations in the Middle East. More than a quarter of the population of Jordan is made up of displaced Palestinians, Syrians and Egyptians.

Israel and Palestine

The Israel-Palestine conflict has been of particular importance to Jordan. At the time of the 1994 peace treaty with Israel, Jordan had been officially at war with Israel for 46 years.

The first Israel-Palestine conflict began on May 15th 1948, the day after  with Israel's Declaration of Independence. The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as it was then known, was one of 4 surrounding Arab nations that attacked Israel but the war ultimately ended in defeat for the Arab coalition.

The war was a mixed blessing for Transjordan, in that it was unable to prevent the establishment of Israel but it did mean that it was able to annex much of the West Bank of the River Jordan, including East Jerusalem and the historic Old City.

Rapid succession

In 1949, the Kingdom underwent its 2nd name change in 3 years by becoming the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In July 1951, while visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, the country's founding father, King Abdullah 1, was assassinated by a 21 year old Palestinian tailor's apprentice.

King Abullah was succeeded by his eldest son Talal, who was forced to abdicate in a year later in 1952 on grounds of mental illness. King Talal was succeeded the following year by King Hussein who ruled Jordan until his death in February 1999.

The Six Day War

Jordan paid a heavy price for participating in the fighting against Israel during the Six Day War of June 1969. Israel gained almost total control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the Old City. The conflict led to an influx of many thousands of Palestinian refugees into Jordan, including Palestinian fighters, the Fedayeen, whose activities were to destabilise Jordan soon afterwards.

According to some estimates, there are now more than 2 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan.

Black September and the PLO

In September 1970, the actions of the Fedayeen had brought Jordan to the edge of civil war.  Many considered the PLO fighters a state within a state, a claim underlined by the hijacking of 3 passenger airliners by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the biggest groups making up the PLO. The PFLP had the planes flown to an airfield at the Jordanian city of Zarqa and after evacuating them, had them all blown up in front of TV cameras.

This was the final straw for King Hussein, who attacked PLO positions in Jordan. Syria joined sides with the Fedayeen but Jordan defeated swiftly defeated the Syrians. Following a short truce, Jordan attacked the Fedayeen again, driving them out of the cities. King Hussein allowed the PLO to leave Jordan for Lebanon via Syria. Soon the Fedayeen would help destabilise Lebanon.

Renunciation of claim on the West Bank

In June 1986, Jordan's relationship with the PLO hit new lows when the government order the closure of the offices of Fatah, the largest group in the PLO and led, like the PLO itself, by Yasser Arafat.

In June 1988, the Arab League gave the PLO financial control of support for the Palestinians. In response, King Hussein renounced all of Jordan's claims to the West Bank, allowing the PLO to one day assume all responsibility there. The King also dissolved Jordan's parliament as half the members were West Bank representatives.

In November 1988, the Palestine National Council, the PLO's legislative body, proclaimed the independence of a purely notional Palestine. King Hussein immediately extended recognition to the entity.

Peace with Israel; accords with the PLO

King Hussein initially expressed reservations about the so-called Oslo Accords, the peace agreement signed by Israel and the PLO but expressed his support for the Palestinians.

In 1994, Jordan would sign a peace treaty in which King Hussein was recognised as the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem, principally Al-Aqsa in the Old City. In January 1995, Jordan signed accords with the PLO, pledging support for Palestinian autonomy and the establishment of a Palestinian State to include East Jerusalem.

A new king, terror and reform

King Hussein died in February 1999 to be succeeded by son, King Abdullah II.  The new King embarked on building solid economic and political ties with neighbours, particularly Egypt and Syria.

At home, King Abdullah's attempts at electoral reform were hindered by difficult identity politics that often pitted Jordanians of Palestinian origin against Jordanians of Bedouin origin.

Jordan also faced serious security threats, particularly following the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and rise of the Islamic State group from 2013. 

A Jordanian jihadi called Abu Musab al-Zarqawi led the Al Qaeda in Iraq group when it claimed responsibility for a coordinated attack on 3 hotels in the capital Amman. The attacks left 57 dead and 115 injured.

In September 2014, Jordan joined in the US-led air attack on IS in Syria. in December 2014, a Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kasabeh, was captured by IS  and burned to death some weeks later.

Jordan economy 

Jordan’s main trade resource is potassium, of which it trades over 2 million tons a year. The government has also been heavily investing in the ICT sector, and hosted the World Economic Forum Middle East meeting in 2018.

Key dates

June 1916
ARAB REVOLT AGAINST THE OTTOMANS: Sharif Hussein ibn Ali of the Kingdom of Hejaz -proclaimed Sultan of the Arabs" agrees with the British to lead his Sharifian army in a. rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, then a Great War belligerent
Nov 1915 - Jan' 1916
SYKES-PICOT AGREEMENT: British and French diplomats, Mark Sykes & Francois Georges-Picot, sign a secret agreement which decided spheres of interest for both countries after expected collapse of Ottoman Empire. Palestine & Transjordan fall under the UK's
July 1917
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA: Led by Auda Abu Tayi of the Howeitat tribe, and advised by Colonel T.E Lawrence, the Arab rebels capture the strategically important Jordanian port of Aqaba on the Red Sea
Oct' 1918
APOGEE OF ARAB REVOLT-DAMASCUS: Sharifian army marches into the Syrian capital of Damascus, leaving Medina as the only city under Ottoman control in the Hijaz. Medina falls in January 1919
April 1921
EMIRATE OF TRANSJORDAN: The emirate of Transjordan is established with Abdullah as emir but remains a British mandate until 1946
1922
TRANSJORDAN CONSIDERED SEPARATE FROM PALESTINE: The Council of the League of Nations officially recognises Transjordan as a state under British supervision
May 1946
INDEPENDENCE: The Hashemite emirate becomes the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan
May 1948
ISRAEL INDEPENDENCE ANNOUNCED: The state of Israel created in the British-mandate Palestine, leading to thousands of Palestinian refugees crossing the border from the fighting in the West Bank to Jordan
April 1949
TRANSJORDAN BECOMES JORDAN: 2nd name change in 3 years - the country's name is shorted the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
April 1950
JORDAN ANNEXES WEST BANK: The engagement in the first Israel-Palestine war leads to Jordan annexing the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Old City
July 1951
KING ABDULLAH I ASSASSINATED: King Abdullah I is assassinated by a Palestinian gunman angry at his apparent collusion with Israel. He was succeeded by his son King Talal
Jan' 1952
CONSTITUTION OF JORDAN: Subsequently amended many times, the Constitution sets out the hereditary monarchical rule alongside a parliamentary system of representations, separation of powers -executive, judicial and legislative
Aug' 1952
KING TALAL ABDICATION: King Talal abdicates on grounds of mental illness. A Regent is appointed until Hussein, King Tala's son comes of age 10 months later
May 1952
KING HUSSEIN: King Hussein comes of age and rules Jordan until his death in February 1999
1957
British troops fully withdraw from Jordan.
Feb' - Aug' 1958
HASHEMITE ARAB FEDERATION FORMED: King Hussein and King Faisal II of Iraq join their kingdoms to form a new country.- in response to union of Egypt and Syria
July 1958
IRAQ'S BLOODY REVOLUTION AND END OF HASHEMITE ARAB FEDERATION: Army officers and Baathists led by Abd al-Karim Qasim topple the monarchy and massacre King Faisal and other members of the Royal family
April '50 - June'67
BETWEEN THE WARS: Jordan occupies the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Old City
June 1967
SIX-DAY WAR: Israel takes control of the land which Jordan had annexed after the first Israel-Palestine war, including the West Bank. This causes another major flood of refugees into Jordan.
Sept' 1970
DAWSON'S FIELD HIJACKINGS: The Poplar Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijack 3 jets and get them flown to Dawson's Field at Zarqa in Jordan . The PFLP remove passengers and blow up all 3 jets. The incident helps precipitate Black September conflict
Sept' 1970
BLACK SEPTEMBER - JORDANIAN CIVIL WAR: Increasingly infuriated by activities of Palestinian militants, Jordan launches military campa Thousands die in clashes between Palestinian guerrillas and government forces. Jordan wins ensuing civil war
Oct' 1973
YOM KIPPUR WAR: Syria and Egypt attack Israel without initial Jordanian involvement. Jordan joins the war on October 13th - a week after it starts - sending the 40th Brigade to assist Syrian troops in doomed attempt to recapture Golan Heights
March 1979
ISRAELI-EGYPT PEACE AGREEMENT: Israeli & Egypt sign peace agreement, which includes cessation of state of war, mutual recognition and Israeli withdrawal from Sinai
1986
King Hussein orders the shut down of the main offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation to cut all political ties
July 1988
HISTORIC JORDAN RENUNCIATION OF CLAIM OVER WEST BANK: Jordan formally renounces claim of sovereignty over the West Bank, save guardianship of holy sites in Jerusalem. Amman also recognises PLO as " sole & legitimate representative of the Palestine people"
1989
Riots over food prices take place in several cities. These would continue in 1996 when IMF subsidies were removed
Oct' 1994
PEACE AGREEMENT WITH ISRAEL: Jordan signs peace treaty with Israel, ending the 46 year official state of war
Feb' 1999
King Hussein dies, and is succeeded by his son, Abdullah II
2001
A $300m collaboration between King Abdullah and presidents Bashar Al Assad of Syria and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt links the electric grids of the three countries
Sept' 2002
JORDAN AND ISRAEL WATER AGREEMENT: Jordan and Israel agree to pipe water from the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea. The $800 million project is both countries' biggest venture yet
Oct' 2002
FOLEY ASSASSINATION: Senior US diplomat Laurence Foley is gunned down outside his Amman home by Al-Qaeda militants- the first assassination of a diplomat in Jordan
2004
AL QAEDA TERROR ATTEMPT: Cars filled with explosives are found and linked to planned Al-Qaeda chemical attack on the intelligence services in Amman
Nov' 2005
AL QEADA AMMAN HOTEL ATTACKS: Al-Qaeda makes two more attacks, the larger of which kills sixty people, mostly Jordanians, in three international hotels. A day of mourning is declared
2008
King Abdullah is the first Arab leader to visit Iraq since the US invasion in 2003
2009
King Abdullah dissolves parliament half way through the 4 year term, and appoints a new premier to advance economic reform
2011
ARAB SPRING: Amid protests in surrounding countries, the King appointed a former army general and then a judge at the international court of justice as a new prime minister. Street protests take place all year
June 2014
ABU QATADA INCIDENT: After a long legal battle, the UK deports to Jordan radical preacher Abu Qatar' He is found not guilty of terrorism offences by a court in Jordan over an alleged plot in 1998
2014
WAR WITH ISLAMIC STATE GROUP: Jordan takes part in air strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria with four other Arab states and the US
Feb 2015
DAESH MURDER JORDANIAN PILIOT: The Islamic State group publishes a video purporting to show IS militants burning to death the captured Jordanian pilot, Muath Kasabeh
2015
WAR ON HOUTHIS IN YEMEN: Jordan takes part in Saudi-led air strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen
2016
1ST PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION SINCE 1989: The first parliamentary election since 1989 takes place
2017
Iraq drives Islamic state militants from the main road from the Iraq-Jordan border, and the two countries agree to open the border
2018
Street protests against a government austerity program led to the prime minister Hani Mulki being replaced by Omar Al Razzaz
2019
Two Jordanians are detained in Israel for months without trial, causing Jordan to withdraw its ambassador in protest. The citizens objected using hunger
2020
COVID-19 PANDEMIC: Jordan puts in place some of the strictest lockdown measures in response to people ignoring requests to stay home. Those breaking the curfew would be arrested and could be jailed for up to a year
April 2021
Jordanian authorities arrest 19 people, including former Crown Prince, Prince Hamza, amid amid accusations of a plot to foment unrest against King Abdullah
July 2021
Two men, a distant relative of King Abdullah's and a former royal advisor, are jailed for 15 years for alleged role in sedition plot