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Hussein I

Hussein I (hŏsānˈ, –Īnˈ) [key], 1935–99, king of Jordan; educated in England at Harrow and Sandhurst. He ascended the throne (1953) after his grandfather Abdullah I had been killed (1951) by a Palestinian extremist and after his father was declared (1952) mentally unfit to serve as king. The target of more than a dozen assassination attempts, Hussein generally espoused a moderate pro-Western policy that brought him into conflict with leftist leaders in other Arab countries as well as with Palestinians in Jordan. He maintained his throne largely through the support of the British-trained Arab Legion and the fierce loyalty of the Bedouins of E Jordan. Despite a generally moderate stance toward Israel, he led Jordan into the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, as a result of which Israel occupied all Jordan W of the Jordan River (the West Bank). This loss intensified the conflict between Hussein and the Palestinian guerrilla movement, and civil war erupted in 1970. Hussein was victorious and strengthened his rule, but at a 1974 Arab summit meeting he agreed to relinquish any claim to the West Bank to the Palestine Liberation Organization. During the Persian Gulf War, Hussein was isolated internationally when he refused to join the coalition against Iraq. Subsequently, however, he played a role in encouraging peace negotiations between Arabs and Israelis, and in 1994 he signed a peace treaty with Israel. He was succeeded by his son Abdullah II, an army officer he had named crown prince only weeks before he died.

See biographies by N. Ashton (2008) and A. Shlaim (2008).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Middle Eastern History: Biographies

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