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Abdullah II

Abdullah II

Abdullah II, 1962-, king of Jordan (1999-), b. Amman, educated at Sandhurst and Oxford in England and Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C. He joined (1984) the Jordanian military, rose swiftly, became (1994) head of Jordan's Special Forces, and attained (1998) the rank of major general. He succeeded to the crown upon the death of his father, Hussein I, whose moderate policies he has continued. Abdullah has attempted to improve Jordan's flagging economy and has supported an independent Palestinian state while maintaining relatively cordial relations with Israel. He has continued Jordan's status as an American ally, but pressed for a peaceful solution to the looming 2003 war with Iraq. Allowing a few hundred U.S. troops to operate antimissile batteries in E Jordan, he refused to permit any other Jordanian military participation in the conflict.
Abdullah II bin al-Hussein, King of Jordan (الملك عبد الله الثاني بن الحسين, al-Malik ʿAbdullāh aṯ-ṯānī bin al-Ḥusayn born 30 January 1962) is the ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He became king of Jordan on 7 February 1999 after the death of his father King Hussein. King Abdullah is a member of the Hashemite family and is reportedly the 43rd-generation direct descendant of prophet Muhammad. Abdullah's parents are King Hussein and Princess Muna al-Hussein.

Education and military career

Abdullah was schooled at St. Edmund's School in Surrey, England as well as Eaglebrook School and Deerfield Academy in the United States. His university training was at Pembroke College, Oxford. In 1980, Abdullah left Pembroke and entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom as a cadet. He joined the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) upon commission as a Second Lieutenant the following year. King Abdullah retains close links with the British Army and is the Colonel-in-Chief of The Light Dragoons, a tank regiment and the successor to the 13th/18th Royal Hussars. In 1987, he completed an advanced studies and research program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He took full command of the Jordanian special forces in November 1993, becoming a Major General. He instructed the special forces until 1996, when he was instructed to reorganize the special forces and other special units under the special operation command SOCOM. Upon assuming his constitutional powers, he became the commander-in-chief. King Abdullah holds the ranks of Field Marshal in the Jordan Arab Army and Marshal of the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

Marriage and children

Abdullah is married to a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, Queen Rania al-Abdullah. They have four children:

King of Jordan

King Abdullah became king on 7 February 1999, upon the death of his father King Hussein. Hussein had recently named him Crown Prince on 24 January, replacing Hussein's brother Hassan who had served many years in the position. Since Abdullah's mother, Princess Muna al-Hussein was British by birth, the decision was not universally popular.

Politics as King

King Abdullah is the head of a constitutional monarchy in which the King retains substantial power. Jordan's economy has improved under Abdullah, and he has been credited with increasing foreign investment, attending meetings between public and private sectors, and providing the foundation for Aqaba's free trade zone. As a result of these reforms, Jordan's economic growth has doubled to 6% annually under King Abdullah's rule compared to the latter half of the 1990s. Healthcare is now easy to receive even in rural parts of Jordan. The adult literacy rate is 90%, one of the highest in the Arab World. Foreign direct investment from the West as well as the countries of the Persian Gulf has continued to increase.

Abdullah's speech at The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law in September 2005 was entitled "Traditional Islam: The Path to Peace." While en route to the United States, King Abdullah met with Pope Benedict XVI to build on the relations that Jordan had established with Pope John Paul II to discuss ways in which Muslims and Christians can continue to work together for peace, tolerance, and coexistence. The King announced on 2 March 2007 municipal elections in Jordan and in 25 November 2006 in his parliament address, told the parliament to work on reforms of the press and publication law.

King Abdullah II has worked for the Middle East Peace Process, attending the Arab Summit in 2002, OIC conferences and having several summits with US, Israeli and Palestinian delegations to find a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. He tried to impose a cease-fire when the Israel-Hezbollah war broke out in the summer of 2006. While keeping strong ties to Israel, the King has invested money into the new Palestinian authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the current President of the PA. He has also helped increase foreign investment in the new Palestinian government.

Palestinians are given citizenship more easily than Iraqi refugees are. Crossing the border into Jordan from Iraq is not much more difficult than it had previously been before the 2005 Amman bombings by Iraqis working with al-Qaeda. The king was expected to pay a lot of attention on domestic policy and domestic issues , his cooperation with the United States gained Jordan better economic and military position. His position with peace in the Middle East is met with criticism from Jordanians of Palestinian descent.

Jordan received criticism when Toujan al-Faisal, Jordan's first female member of Parliament and an outspoken advocate for freedom of expression and human rights, was jailed for slandering the government after she charged it with corruption in a letter to Abdullah.

Major General Yair Naveh, GOC of the Israel Defense Forces Homefront Command and former GOC of Israeli Central Command, said in a gathering with reporters that King Abdullah might fall and that he could be Jordan's last king. The statement created tension between the two countries, and afterwards Naveh retracted his statement and apologized. Later, the Israeli prime minister expressed the disagreement of Israel with Naveh's statement, and referred to it as a personal and irrelevant view. In March 2007, Ehud Olmert commented on any American withdrawal from Iraq by saying that, "Israel is worried a hasty American withdrawal from Iraq could have negative impact on the Hashemite regime in Jordan..." Jordan's spokesman Nasser Jawdeh replied by saying, "The Israeli prime minister should worry about his political future before worrying about us.

Like his father, King Abdullah pushed forward a policy of reform. In a speech before the United States Congress, King Abdullah presented several political reform strategies to help Jordan become more democratic. The new economic policies have seen many results in Jordan. Abdullah's policies have attracted business to Jordan. He also negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States, which was the third free trade agreement for the U.S. and the first with an Arab country.

King Abdullah has a strong belief in a powerful military and has led Jordan into adopting a "quality over quantity" policy. This policy has led Jordan to acquire advanced weaponry and greatly increase and enhance its F-16 fighter jet fleet. The ground forces have acquired the Challenger 1 main battle tank.

On 16 April 2008 a new Jordanian political party law went into effect. Parliament passed the law in 2007 but the government agreed to give parties a grace period to organize themselves. Local newspapers in Jordan have reported that only fourteen of Jordan’s thirty-six political parties have been able to comply with the new regulations, which include obtaining a certificate of government support and an increase in minimum party membership from 50 to 500. Parties unable to comply, including eight of the fourteen-party opposition coalition, were forced to dissolve and are calling the new law unconstitutional. The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordan’s largest opposition party, was able to comply with the new law.

Successor

On 28 November 2004, Abdullah removed the title of Crown Prince from his half-brother, Hamzah, whom he had appointed on 7 February 1999, in accordance with their late father's wishes. In a letter from Abdullah to Hamzah, read on Jordanian state television, he said, "Your holding this symbolic position has restrained your freedom and hindered our entrusting you with certain responsibilities that you are fully qualified to undertake." No successor to the title was named, but some analysts believe it probable that Abdullah intends to name his own son, Prince Hussein, to succeed him at some point in the future.

Nuclear plans for Jordan

On 20 January 2007, King Abdullah revealed to Haaretz that Jordan has plans to develop nuclear power strictly for internal energy purposes. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs though, Jordan is one of the poorest countries in terms of access to drinking water, and thus some have raised questions about King Abdullah's plans for making it a powerful country capable of developing nuclear energy. Jordan is one of the few non-petroleum producing nations in the region and is strategically dependent on oil from its neighbor, Iraq. Continuing civil unrest in Iraq puts Jordanian national and energy security at risk.

Democracy in Jordan

BBC international published an article titled "Jordan edging towards democracy", where King Abdullah expressed his intentions of making Jordan a democratic country. According to the article, president George W. Bush "urged King Abdullah, a U.S. ally, to take steps towards democracy. Thus far, however, democratic development has been limited, with the monarchy maintaining most power and its allies dominating parliament. King Abdullah was commended on his political reform strategies.

Interests

King Abdullah has many interests. He is known to be adventurous and has a love and passion for sky diving, rally racing, and scuba diving. He actively promotes tourism in Jordan, and was the guide for the documentary by the travel channel in Jordan. The king is also an acknowledged fan of the science fiction saga Star Trek. In 1995, while he was still a Prince, he appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Investigations".

His interest in the film industry has also influenced his decision to create the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in the Red Sea coastal town of Aqaba, in partnership with the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts on 20 September 2006.

See also

References

External links

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