Jordan | Jordan Extends an Olive Branch to Former Foes
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Jordan Extends an Olive Branch to Former Foes
Jordan's stance during the Persian Gulf War strained relations with the U.S. and led to the termination of U.S. aid. The signing of a national charter by King Hussein and leaders of the main political groups in June 1991 meant political parties were permitted in exchange for acceptance of the constitution and the monarchy. King Hussein's decision to join the Middle East peace talks in mid-1991 helped restore his country's relations with the U.S.
In July 1994, King Hussein and the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin signed a declaration ending the state of belligerency between the two countries. A peace agreement between the two countries was signed on Oct. 26, 1994, although a phrase in it calling the king the “custodian” of Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem angered the PLO. In the wake of the agreement, Jordan's relations with the U.S. and with the moderate Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, warmed. In 1997, Jordan, determined to attract foreign investment, began negotiating with the United States about membership in the World Trade Organization. In Jan. 1999, King Hussein unexpectedly deposed his brother, Prince Hassan, who had been heir apparent for 34 years, and named his eldest son the new crown prince. A month later, King Hussein died of cancer, and Abdullah, 37, a popular military leader with little political experience, became king.
The first parliamentary elections under King Abdullah took place in June 2003 and resulted in a two-thirds majority for the king's supporters. In 2005, the king, unhappy with the slow progress on reforms, replaced his cabinet.
Three suicide bombings by Iraqis blasted hotels in Amman, Jordan, in Nov. 2005, killing at least 57 people and wounding 115—almost all of whom were Jordanians. The terrorist group, al-Qaeda in Iraq, claimed responsibility, contending that Jordan had been targeted because of its friendly relations with the United States.
In parliamentary elections in Nov. 2007, pro-government and independent candidates won 104 of 110 seats. The opposition Islamic Action Front took just six seats, down from 17 in 2003's election. Following the elections, King Abdullah named Nader Dahabi, former air force commander and transport minister, as prime minister and instructed him to focus on improving the country's economy.
King Abdullah dissolved Parliament in November 2009, halfway through its term, and called for early elections. He appointed Samir al-Rifai as prime minister. The following November, pro-government candidates swept parliamentary elections, which were boycotted by the opposition Islamic Action Front. Violent protests followed the vote.