Jordanians Commemorate King Hussein

One of King Hussein’s greatest challenges to his throne was the loss of the West Bank during the 1967 War and the expulsion of the PLO from Jordan in 1971.

Hussein_of_Jordan_1997Yesterday, Jordanians commemorated the 15th anniversary of the death of King Hussein, ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from 1952 until 1999.

King Hussein is remembered for improving the literacy rate and the quality of life for the country’s Bedouin and Palestinian population, successfully stabilizing the throne by balancing often tense relations with Israel, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the PLO, and perhaps most famously, becoming the second Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Today Jordan remains one of the most stable Arab countries despite the many challenges the Kingdom has faced. Although there have been protests demanding reform and an unprecedented influx of more than half a million Syrian refugees, the Kingdom has persevered.

Jordan has not experienced the type of gruesome violence in Syria, nor the chaos and instability in Libya, Egypt and Iraq.

One of King Hussein’s greatest challenges to his throne was the loss of the West Bank during the 1967 War and the expulsion of the PLO from Jordan in 1971.

In May 1967, King Hussein signed a defense pact with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and prepared for war. The West Bank, which Jordan had conquered and annexed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, fell under Israeli control on June 10, 1967.

After the loss of the West Bank, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the PLO set up a state-within-a-state in Jordan, and more radical Palestinians including members in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, openly advocated overthrowing King Hussein and using Jordan as a base to fight Israel.

After the PFLP hijacked five planes and landed three of them in Jordan, Hussein declared war against the PLO. In September 1970, Jordanian troops fought Arafat’s PLO until they were expelled from the country in 1971, and relocated to their new headquarters in Lebanon.

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Watch this clip from a PBS documentary on King Hussein during this tumultuous period known as “Black September.”

Click here to watch part 2.

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Michael Sharnoff is founder and editor of Sharnoff’s Global Views. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter. Read other articles by Michael.

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