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World

Jordan marks muted centenary after palace crisis

  • But even before the palace crisis, plans for centenary celebrations were muted due to Covid-19.
09 Apr 2021

AMMAN: Jordan will mark 100 years of survival Sunday as a resource-poor country in a war-ravaged neighbourhood, but the worst palace crisis in decades and the coronavirus pandemic threaten to overshadow any celebrations.

"Nobody would have bet a dinar on the survival of the state, created in the desert and with almost no natural resources," said Jalal al-Husseini, a researcher at the French Middle Eastern studies institute IFPO in Amman.

On April 11, 1921, Abdullah became ruler of the newly created Emirate of Transjordan.

The territory accorded him by colonial power Britain had little oil and severely lacked water, and it has since seen repeated wars on its borders, prompting three waves of refugees -- yet has managed to survive.

But there was palace turmoil barely a week before the anniversary, as a former heir to the throne was suddenly confined to his palace, accused of plotting to "undermine the security" of the kingdom.

Days later, under family pressure, Prince Hamzah signed a statement pledging loyalty to his half-brother, King Abdullah II, who had stripped him of the title of crown prince in 2004.

But even before the palace crisis, plans for centenary celebrations were muted due to Covid-19.

"Economic and social conditions, the health situation and day-to-day life are very difficult, so there's not much enthusiasm to mark this as we should," said Oraib al-Rantawi, head of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies.

But: "We are talking about a state that was born on the fault lines of all the struggles and wars in the region, so its emergence and survival for 100 years with few resources is quite an achievement."