Jordan, country, Asia: Recent History
Jordan moved closer to Syria in the late 1970s and, along with other Arab countries, opposed the Camp David accords and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty (1979). Jordan sided with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, despite Syrian threats, and sent large amounts of war materials to Iraq. In 1988, Hussein formally relinquished claim to the West Bank in acknowledgment of Palestinian sovereignty. He approved the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, and Arabs residing in that area lost their Jordanian citizenship. Parliamentary elections were held in 1989 for the first time in 22 years.
Plagued by serious economic problems since the mid-1980s, Jordan received increased economic aid from the United States in 1990. However, the outbreak (1991) of the Persian Gulf War led to a repeal of U.S. aid to Jordan due to Hussein's support of Iraq (Jordan's major source of oil). Jordan also suffered a loss of aid from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the war. The country endured further economic hardship when approximately 700,000 Jordanian workers and refugees returned to Jordan as a result of the fighting in the Persian Gulf, causing housing and employment shortages. Not until 2001 did an accord again permit Jordanians to work in Kuwait.
Peace talks between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation began in Aug., 1991. In 1994 a peace agreement between Jordan and Israel ended the official state of war between the two nations, and Hussein went on to encourage peace negotiations between other Arab states and Israel. In 1993 political parties were again permitted to field candidates, resulting in Jordan's first multiparty elections in 37 years. The country's economy continued to decline, however, and the government became less tolerant of dissent. Laws restricting freedom of the press were instituted in 1997, and that same year Islamic parties boycotted the legislative elections, claiming they were unfair.
Hussein died in 1999 and was succeeded by his son, Abdullah II, who pledged to work toward a more open government and to ease restrictions on public expression. Although there was some progress in terms of economic development, the country continued to be dependent on tourism, which was hurt by its location between Israel and Iraq. Political liberalization was slow in coming. In 2001 parliament's term expired without new elections being called; they were postponed out of fear that popular sympathy for the Palestinians in their renewed conflict with Israel would lead to a victory for the Islamic parties.
The June, 2003, parliamentary elections resulted in a majority for the king's supporters; Islamists won 18 seats. In Apr., 2006, Jordan accused Hamas of planning attacks against targets in Jordan, saying that it had detained militants and seized weapons that had come in from Syria. The Nov., 2007, parliamentary elections resulted in sharp losses for the Islamists, who accused the government of fraud. The parliament was largely seen as ineffective, and two years later the king dissolved parliament and ordered preparations for a new election. The main Islamic opposition group boycotted the Nov., 2010, elections, which gave the king's supporters a parliamentary majority.
The proreform demonstrations that affected many Arab nations in early 2011 also occurred in Jordan, though they were generally smaller and more moderate than in other countries. The king made promises of reform, and in February appointed a new government that included some opposition figures, but antigovernment protests continued in subsequent weeks. In June the king announced plans for significant political and economic changes, but did not specify a timetable. He subsequently (October) appointed yet another new government to undertake political reforms, but criticism of its proposed election law reforms led to a new government in May, 2012.
In Oct., 2012, the king dissolved parliament. Early elections, held in Jan., 2013, were boycotted by Islamists and other opposition groups because of their objections to the reforms, which they criticized for favoring rural and tribal constituencies. In 2012 Jordan saw a dramatic increase in the number of Syrians who fled there to escape the civil war in their country; by late 2015 more than 1.2 million Syrians, about half of whom were registered as refugees, were in Jordan. The high number of refugees contributed to economic difficulties in the country in subsequent years.
The parliamentary elections of Sept., 2016, held after the adoption in 2015 of electoral reforms that adopted a proportional system of representation, were contested by Islamists and other opposition groups; they won some seats, but the parliament remained dominated by pro-government deputies. In 2018 sudsidy cuts and tax reforms required by a 2016 agreement with the International Monetary Fund provoked antigovernment demonstrations beginning in May; in June a new government was appointed by the king. In the Nov., 2020, parliamentary elections, government-aligned candidates again won most of the seats.
Sections in this article:
- Recent History
- Jordan and the Palestinians
- Crisis and Conflict
- Early History to Independence
- Land and People
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