Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Thursday, February 4, 1999 Published at 22:30 GMT


World: Middle East

The succession in Jordan: Regional implications

At the White House: Arafat, Hussein, Clinton and Netanyahu

By Middle East Analyst Roger Hardy

Jordan's sorrow
There are two main reasons why the end of King Hussein's reign is a regional, not just a Jordanian, issue.

The first is that, although Jordan is relatively weak compared with its neighbours, it is strategically important.

Under King Hussein's rule, Jordan played a crucial role in both Arab-Israeli and inter-Arab relations. It's hard to see how any successor would be able to manage the country's affairs with the same degree of skill and courage.


[ image:  ]
But there is a second reason why people in the Middle East have cause for concern. King Hussein was by no means the only leader who had been in power for a long time, and Jordan is not the only country in the region which faces a potential succession crisis.

A generation of Arab rulers are reaching an age where they could pass from the scene. They are, for the most part, autocratic - and in virtually no case is there a clear mechanism for ensuring a smooth transition of power.

In the Saudi case there has at least been a gradual transfer of power to Crown Prince Abdullah over the last two or three years, owing to the prolonged ill health of the king.

But given the Saudi Prince Abdullah's age, 75, many observers are already starting to look ahead and wondering who would succeed him, and how smoothly.

Many Arabs are conscious of the comparison between themselves and their neighbours.

Elections rare

Turks and Israelis elect their leaders. Two years ago the Iranians elected a reformist president, Mohammed Khatami, a figure whom many Arabs admire.

But elections are rare in the Arab world, and clean elections rarer still. It may be that the situation in Jordan will serve to stimulate debate within the region about an issue that has long been virtually taboo.

Many observers feel it is only a matter of time before a succession crisis is ignited in one or other Arab country, with potentially destabilising implications for the region as a whole.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia


In this section

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Iraq oil-for-food aid extended

Israel demands soccer sex scandal inquiry

Israeli PM's plane in accident

Jordan police stop trades unionists prayers

New Israeli raid in southern Lebanon

New demand over PLO terror list

Earthquake hits Iran

New UN decision on Iraq approved

Algerian president pledges reform