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Jordan Table of Contents



From the beginning of Hussein's reign in 1953, the king's position as a pro-Western moderate in the continuing struggle between Middle East Arab states and Israel has kept him in the forefront of political uncertainty. He has had to deal with the preeminent strategic drawback of sharing a longer common border with Israel than any other Arab country. To compound the unease generated by this 345-kilometer frontier, repeated Arab-Israeli wars demonstrated that Israeli forces always fielded vastly superior military capability. As a consequence, the king for many years has avoided engaging Israel in battle and has prevented provocations launched from Jordanian territory by PLO militants that could spark Israeli retaliation. Domestically, the danger posed to Hussein's rule by armed Palestinian groups during the 1960s had by the late 1980s given way to new sources of potential instability--the increasing militancy of the Islamic revival movement and the frustration of lowered economic expectations, together with civilian impatience over the limits on political expression. For the immediate future, however, the security forces seemed sufficiently well equipped to suppress agitation and organized attempts to subvert the monarchy.

Data as of December 1989