Hussein I

(1935—1999) king of Jordan 1953–99

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(b. 14 Nov. 1935, d. 7 Feb. 1999).

King of Jordan 1952–1999 Grandson of Abdullah ibn Hussein, he was educated at the Victoria College (Alexandria), Harrow, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. His schizophrenic father was removed from the throne by parliament on 11 August 1952 and, after a hasty conclusion of his education, he returned to succeed him in May 1953. His rule was marked by a notable success in blending Islamic traditionalism and Western capitalism. He gained a lot of authority from his lineage as heir to the Hashemite dynasty and thus his direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad. This also encouraged him as a leader of Arab unity, though he was always careful to emphasize the principle of a universal voice of independent Arab states, rather than an Arab superstate. At the same time, he was extraordinarily pro‐Western in relying on the USA and the UK for military and economic assistance.

Hussein created an extensive education system and, despite the relative poverty of his country, steadily improved its healthcare provision. In the 1950s and 1960s, he had to maintain a careful relationship with his extremist Arab neighbours, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, whose more radical pan‐Arabist regimes sponsored several unsuccessful coups against him. He suffered a humiliating and devastating defeat during the Six Day War, losing the West Bank to Israel. Thereafter, Palestinian guerrillas, notably the PLO, regrouped in Jordan. These began to form a state within a state, which triggered a civil war when he expelled them in 1970–1. He met Israeli representatives in secret negotiations throughout the 1970s and 1980s but, ever‐mindful of the large Palestinian minority in his country, he was only able to sign a Peace Treaty with Israel in 1995, after the latter had recognized the PLO. Shortly before his death he ensured his succession by his son, Abdullah II, at the expense of his eldest brother, Hassan.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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