The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been largely spared the political upheavals that have rocked other Middle Eastern capitals over the past decade.
But it has seen pro-democracy protest movements, been economically hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, and struggled to accommodate more than a million refugees displaced by the war in neighboring Syria.
What you need to know about Jordan:
Who is King Abdullah II of Jordans?
King Abdullah II, 59, has ruled Jordan since 1999. His family, the Hashemites, trace their lineage back to the Prophet Muhammad.
Abdullah is the eldest son of the late revered King Hussein of Jordan and his second wife, Princess Muna. Abdullah is the half-brother of Hamzeh, who was arrested in connection with the alleged attempted palace coup.
Abdullah was educated abroad, notably in England and the United States. He also served in the Jordanian armed forces. He has four children with his wife Queen Rania, of Palestinian origin.
Abdullah sought to make Jordan a moderate and stable regional force, and himself a modern face of the country’s constitutional monarchy. Criticizing the king, however, is a crime in Jordan, when many other political rights and freedoms of speech are limited.
In recent years, Abdullah has faced several waves of protests over economic issues, as well as calls for more political freedoms. So far, he has managed to stave off these threats by reshuffling his government and making some political concessions.
What is the modern history of Jordans?
Jordan officially declared independence from British colonial rule in 1946. Shortly after, Jordan joined the fight against the newly established Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. At the end of the wars, Jordan controlled East Jerusalem and the West Bank and was home to many Palestinian refugees. Jordan then lost control of these territories to Israel during the 1967 war.
By some estimates, around half of Jordanians today are of Palestinian descent. The political system, however, has historically favored the country’s traditional tribes and rural populations, sometimes referred to as East Bankers to distinguish them from Palestinians of West Bank origin. (Some Palestinians in Jordan now have citizenship, while others do not.) Public sector jobs have also been dominated by Jordanians from tribal and rural backgrounds, while Palestinians have played a key role in the development of the country’s private sector.
This provisional balance, however, has been threatened over the years by factors such as cuts to the public sector that have eroded the traditional power base of the royal family.
Why is Jordan an ally of the United States?
Jordan has cultivated close ties with a succession of US presidents. He also sought to maintain stable relations with his neighbors, including Israel. A peace treaty with Israel was signed in 1994.
During the Iraq War, Jordan was a key road channel to Iraq. It also hosted an influx of Iraqi refugees and served as a base for many international non-governmental organizations. More recently, Jordan has been a major partner in the United States-led campaign against Islamic State and has assisted American forces in security operations around the world.
As a Sunni Muslim majority country, Jordan has traditionally aligned itself with other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and against Iran.
The Hashemite Kingdom is also keen to preserve its role as guardian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, including the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Who is Prince Hamzeh bin Hussein?
Hamzeh is the eldest son of the late King Hussein and Queen Noor, his fourth wife born in the United States. On Saturday, he was in his Amman palace, at the center of an investigation into the alleged plot to overthrow his older half-brother.
In a statement given to the BBC by his lawyer, the former crown prince denied the allegations and said he was targeted for speaking out against corruption.
I am not the person responsible for the failure of governance, corruption and incompetence that has prevailed in our governance structure for fifteen to twenty years and which is getting worse with each passing year, Hamzeh said in the press release. .
Hamzeh served for four years as crown prince before the designation passed to Abdullah’s eldest son, Hussein, in 2004. Hamzeh is a well-known figure in the royal family. He held other positions within the monarchy and holds the rank of brigadier in the Jordanian army.
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