Saturday, February 7, 2015
The Example of Jordan
The Kingdom of Jordan stands out in the Middle East as a country which, while having its share of problems and shortcomings as any country does, has a great record of strength and stability compared to those around it. Jordan is a small country, a little larger than the state of Indiana, a population of around six million with very little water and practically no natural resources to speak of. Its chief products has traditionally been barley, fruit and goats. It has nothing like the vast oil reserves of Iraq or even Saudi Arabia and there have been tensions between the native people and the very large number of Palestinians who make up a large part of the population. Yet, while neighbors like Syria and Iraq have had many more advantages, they have known numerous civil wars and spent many decades living under the heel of brutal socialist dictators while Jordan has carried on in internal peace and stability with a strong constitutional monarchy.
Everyone, in light of recent events, who is praising King Abdullah II for his bold stand against ISIS, should ask themselves why it is that Jordan is so often the home for refugees from places like Palestine, Iraq and Syria. They should ask why Syria and Iraq cannot have a ‘King Abdullah’ of their own, because the answer is that they easily could have! Iraq, in fact, did have and Syria had previously -even what is now Saudi Arabia had a Hashemite monarchy in the aftermath of the First World War. The Hashemites had led the Arab revolt against the Turks and were set to rule the newly independent countries that emerged from the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Sharif Hussein was to rule Arabia as King of the Hejaz but he was later overthrown by the Wahhabi-backed House of Saud who established Saudi Arabia as it is today. One son of his, Faisal I, became King of Syria with Prince Zeid (another son) as regent of Iraq and a third son, Abdullah, was made King of Transjordan. However, only the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has endured. The Hejaz fell to the Saudis, the Kingdom of Syria was overthrown by the French Republic and its monarch, King Faisal, instead became King of Iraq. The monarchy there endured somewhat longer but, as mentioned, was lost in a coup in 1958 when King Faisal II and the Royal Family were brutally massacred. None have benefited from such changes, I think any honest observer would agree.