Jordan. In June, King Abdullah dismissed Abd ar-Rauf
Rawabda from the post of prime minister and appointed
Liberal MP Ali Abu Raghib a new head of government. The
nomination was welcomed by reform friends. Raghib appointed
a new government in which nine of the 29 ministers had a
Palestinian background and three were deemed to have Islamic
At a previous government transformation in January,
several political heavyweights had to leave the government.
COUNTRYAAH, 6,000 protesters marched through the capital on February
14, demanding harsher punishment against men who, in the
name of honor, murder female relatives. The demonstration
was conducted since Parliament twice voted down a bill that
would have tightened the penalty for this type of crime. The
protesters were led by the king's half-brother, Prince Ali.
Six members of the banned al-Qa'idah group were sentenced
to death in September for preparing terrorist attacks
against US and Israeli targets in connection with the
centenary of the millennium. However, four of them had been
brought to trial in their absence. 16 other members of
al-Qa'idah were sentenced to long prison terms.
On February 7, 1999, King Hussein died. Prior to that, he
had changed his legacy, removed his brother Hassan and
incarcerated his son from the first marriage, Abdullah, at
By Abdullah II's takeover of the throne, Jordan was in a
Palestinian-Israeli peace process that had stalled and with
neighboring Iraq facing North American attacks. Domestic
politics was in a serious economic crisis, while the
political parties demanded greater government opening.
Official unemployment figures were over 30%, foreign
exchange reserves were depleted and the budget deficit had
risen from 2% in 1997 to 6% in 98. As the country has only
scarce natural resources, trade is the main economic
activity and it was free as as a result of the embargo on
Iraq and the economic crisis in Asia.
The new king followed a tradition his father had
instituted. He appeared disguised in various parts of the
country, to see with his own eyes the places and conditions
that usually fell outside the official public. But even
without disguise, the first months of the year he
unexpectedly appeared in hospitals, border posts and other
public places to experience the situation with his own eyes.
The death of a young man in police custody in the
southern city of Maan in January 2002 triggered the worst
riots in 3 years. According to the boy's family, he had been
tortured by police who accused him of raping and
subsequently found photos of Osama bin Laden and Palestinian
martyrs from the Intifada in his pockets.
In continuation of the alliance policy with the United
States, in February 2002, King Abdullah supported Bush's
characterization of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the Axis
of Evil. In relation to Israel, however, the tone was less
conciliatory. In March, Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher
called on the Israeli ambassador, who was threatened that
Jordan would take action after Israel destroyed the
Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah. Jordan also
requested the UN Security Council to send a peacekeeping
force to the Palestinian territories.
In August, diplomatic problems arose with Qatar. The
occasion was a broadcast on the TV station Al-Jazeera. The
crisis peaked when Jordan withdrew his ambassador from Qatar
and closed Al-Jazeera's offices in Amman.
In September, Jordan and Israel signed an agreement for
the implementation of a project worth $ 800 million. US $.
The project consists of transporting water from the Red Sea
to the Dead Sea, whose water level is still falling. The
project is the largest so far between the two countries.
In October, North American diplomat Laurence Foley was
gunned down in the street in front of his house in Amman. It
was the first murder of a Western diplomat in the country's