Jordan History

Jordan, a kingdom in the northwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, is bounded by Syria in the north, Saudi Arabia on the south, Iraq and Saudi Arabia on the east, and the Occupied West Bank and Israel in the west.

The Nabateans, an Arab people, were among the first to settle in Jordan, with their base in Petra. The southern city was situated on one of the main trade routes between eastern and western Asia. Caravans carrying gums, spices, and silks brought by sea to the Gulf of Aqaba went through Petra on their way to the lands of the eastern Mediterranean.

The Nabatean Kingdom lasted until 106 A.D., when it was conquered by the Romans. After the division of the Roman Empire in the late 4th century A.D., all of what is now Jordan came under the rule of the Byzantine, or eastern Roman, empire. In the 7th century A.D., the Byzantines were expelled by invading Muslim armies. In later centuries, the region was overrun by tribes from central Asia, including Seljuk Turks, Mongols, and Tatars. In 1516 it was made part of the Ottoman Empire and incorporated into the Turkish province of Syria.

During the Ottoman rule, Jordan was the subject of discrimination. An inevitable uprising took place as the consequence of Turkification, oppression, economic malaise, administrative corruption and the inability of the Ottoman Empire to provide a modicum of security or stability for the Arab countries as a whole.

The late King Hussein’s great-grandfather, Al-Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca and King of the Arabs (later he also became known as King of the Hijaz), led the liberation of Arab lands from their domination by the Ottoman Turks in the Great Arab Revolt of 1916.

Countries of the Arab East were united into one Arab state embracing Iraq, the Hijaz, Greater Syria, Jordan and Palestine. On this basis, Prince Faisal I announced the establishment of the first government in Damascus on October 5, 1918. But on October 22, Britain issued a statement dividing Greater Syria into three regions. This was not only pursuant to the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement, but also to enable Britain to fulfill its promise to the Zionist Movement to establish a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration called for the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine.

In March 1920, the division of the Arab territory was rejected and the Arab’s people’s representatives meeting in Damascus declared the unity and independence of Syria proclaiming Sharif Hussein’s son Faisal I as King. King Faisal I later also assumed the throne in Iraq.

But Britain and France agreed at the San Remo conference on April 25, 1920 to impose a French mandate on Syria and Lebanon, and a British mandate on Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.

Several battles took place following the mandates’ imposition, the last of which was at Maysalun on July 27, 1920.

After freeing the lands of Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Syria and the Hijaz, Sharif Hussein’s son Abdullah assumed the throne of Transjordan. The Emirate of Transjordan was founded on April 11, 1921, and became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan upon formal independence from Britain on May 25, 1946.

The name Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is derived from Hashem, which was the name of the great grandfather of the Prophet Mohammad. The Royal Family of Jordan is called Hashemite, which means descended from Hashem.

King Abdullah successfully defended Arab East Jerusalem and the “West Bank” during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War when the Israeli state was created on three quarters of Palestine. The Jordanian Arab Legion, fighting alongside other Arab armies succeeded in holding on to those Palestinian territories, which later became known as the West Bank of the Kingdom.

On July 20, 1951, King Abdullah I was assassinated by a lone gunman while attending Friday prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem with his grandson Hussein, who was saved from a bullet by a medal his grandfather had recently awarded him.

After King Abdullah’s martyrdom, King Talal, his eldest son, ruled for a brief period. Due to King Talal’s illness, his eldest son, Hussein, was proclaimed King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on August 11, 1952. He assumed his constitutional powers on May 2, 1953, after reaching the age of eighteen according to the Muslim calendar

His Majesty King Hussein’s reign continued until February 7, 1999 when he lost his long battle with cancer at the age of 63, marking the end of an era in Jordan’s history. The late king Hussein will be remembered for many achievements, most of all as a “king of peace” due to his vigorous efforts in bringing about peace in the Middle East.

Shortly before his demise, King Hussein appointed his eldest son, Prince Abdullah as crown prince who was sworn in as regent and proclaimed king of Jordan.

Jordanians look with optimism and pride to a future under the reign of King Abdullah, current bearer of the Hashemite torch.