HUSSEIN OF JORDAN - A COURAGEOUS KING SAW GRANDFATHER ABDULLAH MURDRED. Amman, Jordan, Reuter King?
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Background: HUSSEIN OF JORDAN - A COURAGEOUS KING SAW GRANDFATHER ABDULLAH MURDRED. Amman, Jordan, Reuter King Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, though only 18 when he came to the throne, quickly asserted himself as a major figure in the tangled modern history in the Middle East.
Largely British-educated, the young monarch surmounted a series of external and internal troubles through his sagacity, tenacity of purpose and undoubted courage.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, King Abdullah, who was murdered at his side, he himself was to meet with several attempts on his life.
HUSSEIN, 2 JORDAN His enemies tried to poison him several times and once even substituted a deadly acid for his nose drops. After his cousin, King Feisal of Iraq, was killed in the coup d' etat of 1958, a companion coup, aimed at his own life and throne, was prevented only by the swift demand for British help.
In his autobiography, "Uneasy Lies the Head," published in 1962, he wrote: "So cunningly and varied have been the plots against my person that I sometimes like a character in a detective novel."
Apart from the fact that he often re-stated the Arab view that the state of Israel established in 1948 did not legally exist, King Hussein was more deeply concerned that any other Arab ruler with the problem of Arab refugees from Palestine, because his border with Israel was much longer that those of other Arab states. The number 500,000 refugees to whom he gave asylum to five times the number succoured by any other Arab state.
He was convicted that the future of Jordan and of the Middle and Near East lay in independence from the West and the East in internal and external policy, coupled with the determination to defeat Communism wherever it appeared.
Of international Communism he once said: "It is an evil thing - the Powers of Darkness. It would destroy the faith by which we live."
Small of stature but athletic, King Hussein has an attractive and warm personality. He was simple in his manner of life, but had a passion for fast cars and aeroplanes, which he drove and piloted expertly.
King Hussein was twice married, first to Princess Dina Abdel Hamid, of the Hashimite royal house, by whom he had a daughter. Princess Alia, and secondly to an English girl, Antoinette Avril Gardiner, who later adopted the name Muna el Hussein.
HUSSEIN 3 JORDAN His first son, Crown Prince Abdullah, was born of this second marriage.
Educated at Harrow
King Hussein was born in Amman on November 14, 1935, the first child of the Emir Talal and of the Hashemite Princess Zain.
He was a great-grandson of the Sherif Hussein of Mecca, King of the Hejaz, and a grandson of Abdullah, Emir of Transjordan, who was proclaimed King of Transjordan (later of Jordan) after the country achieved independence in 1946.
At the age of 16, while still a schoolboy at Victoria College, Alexandria, he saw his grandfather shot dead at his side outside the Mosque Al Aqsa in Jerusalem Old City in 1951, a bullet from the assassin's gun ripping off a medal from his won chest.
When his father, King Talal, succeeded to the throne, he was proclaimed Crown Prince and heir apparent, and his schooling became of paramount importance. Instead of returning to Victoria College he was sent for a year to the famous British public school of Harrow - which gave England many of her statesman including Sir Winston Churchill.
On August 11, 1952, while staying with his mother in Switzerland, he was proclaimed King after the Jordan Parliament had deposed his father, who was found too mentally ill to rule. A month later he made his entry into the capital of his kingdom at the head of Arab Legion troops.
Being, however, too young to govern he returned to Britain to take a six-month course at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
Afterwards he made an educational tour of Britain and paid an official visit to London before returning to Amman where he was formally installed as third monarch of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on May 2, 1953.
HUSSEIN 4 JORDAN Early in 1955 he visited Bagdad and Cairo in response, it as believed, to requests by Arab political and governmental circles that he should try to settle a dispute between Iraq and other countries arising from Iraq's determination to conclude a defence treaty with Turkey.
In Egypt he had several conversations with the then Prime Minister, Lieutenant-Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, with whom he was to clash so bitterly in the following years, and was made an honorary Field-Marshal of the Egyptian Army.
Before leaving Cairo the young King became engaged to the Princess Dina Abdel Hamid, a distant cousin of his, whom he had met in Britain while she was studying at Cambridge University.
The marriage took place in Amman in April 1955 and during their honeymoon the royal couple paid visits to Spain and Britain, where they were the guests of Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
Dismissed Glubb Pasha
In December 1955, after General Sir Gerald Templer, Chief of the British Imperial General Staff, had held defence talks with the Jordan Government, bloody nationalist riots broke out in Jordan against the British proposal that the country should join the Baghdad Pact for Middle East Defence.
Resentment at the part played by the Arab Legion in quelling the riots grew and on March 2, 1956, King Hussein issued a decree dismissing the Legion's British Commander, Glubb Pasha, and two other British officers.
As the year progressed Jordan drew closer to the other Arab states and in October agreed with Egypt and Syria to set up a joint military command.
HUSSEIN 5 JORDAN Anti-Western feeling increased during the Suez crisis and in January 1957, at a conference held in Cairo between King Saud of Saudi Arabia, King Hussein, President Nasser and the Syrian and Jordanian Prime Ministers an agreement was signed providing for the payment to Jordan of GBP12,500.00 over the next ten years. This was to replace a similar amount Jordan had received from Britain under the Anglo-Jordanian treaty of 1948 which was finally abrogated in March.
Owing to subsequent political developments, however, Egypt and Syria did not pay their shares and Jordan continued to receive British financial aid, as well as much larger amounts from the United States.
Thwarted revolt In the Spring of 1957 a political crisis, arising out of the King';s fear of Communist infiltration and on his conflict with his leftist Prime Minister, gave him the opportunity to show his mettle and determination.
Informed that a military coup against him was impending, He leaped into his car and drove straight to the Zerqa Headquarters, the centre of the revolt where he rallied his troops by the sheer force of his personality.
The following year brought another crisis with which he dealt just as firmly. When in July 1958 Iraq was swept by a revolution in which his cousin King Feisal was murdered, King Hussein, claiming that a similar coup was about to be attempted against him by the United Arab Republic, appealed to the British Government for the immediate dispatch of British Forces. These were duly sent and remained in Jordan for several months, after which the country settled down to a period of comparative peace.
At the beginning of the year there had appeared to be some relaxation of tension between Jordan and the United Arab Republic when King Hussein and President Nasser exchanged letters. But in October, after a military revolution against the Nasser regime, diplomatic relations with the United Arab Republic were broken off.
On May 30, when he became the father of a son, King Hussein gave the infant, whom he named Abdullah, the title of Crown Prince and his wife the Title of Her Royal Highness.
In the spring of 1963, when the formation of a new United Arab Republic federation Egypt, Syria and Iraq brought clashes in Amman and the Jordanian sector of Jerusalem between security forces and pro-unity demonstrators, King Hussein dealt once more energetically with the crisis that ensued.
When supporters of Arab unity outvoted the mouth-old governments Mr. Sami Rifa, who resigned, he dissolved Parliament an appointed his uncle Sherif Hussein Ben Nasser to head a new cabinet. Then he broadcast to his people. He said "I am a Jordanian Arab. I do not know fear. My destiny is the destiny of my country.
Meanwhile, the merger of Jordan and Iraq into the Arab Union, which had been formed by King Hussein and King Feisal in February in response to the creation of the United Arab Republic by Egypt and Syria, had come to an end.
King Hussein visited the Far East, the United States and Britain in 1959.
In January 1960 both he and his Prime Minister condemned the Arab leaders' approach to the Palestine problem and in February Jordanian citizenship was offered to all Arab refugees who applied for it.
State visits to Jordan of the Shah of Iran and King Mohanmmed V of Morocco, which had taken place between November and January, were followed in April and May by King Hussein's visit to Iran, Turkey and Morocco.
In August the Jordanian Prime Minister Harza al-Majali, was assassinated by the explosion of a time-bomb in his officer and King Hussein and the Jordanian authorities were quick to attribute the outrage to people in the United Arab Republic.
Married English Girl
Early in May 1961 the King, who had divorced his first wife, Queen Dina in 1957, announced he was to marry again. His bride-to-be was an Ipswich-born English girl, 20-year-old Antoinette Avril Gardiner, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Gardiner, military adviser to the British training mission in Jordan. She had become a Moslem and later took the name of Muna el Hussein.
The marriage took place on May 25 and was greeted with popular rejoicing, which was generally seen as a sign of the strength of the throne.