Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah
by Curtis R. Ryan
Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002. 159 pp. $49.95.
Reviewed by Asaf Romirowsky
Middle East Quarterly
With the signing of a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, King Hussein of Jordan signaled a readiness to move towards tighter bonds with both Israel and the United States. Ryan, assistant professor of political science at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, argues that when Hussein's son Abdullah ascended the throne in 1999, the young monarch fully embraced this approach. Jordan in Transition aims to explain this continuity and also the multifaceted transitions that have occurred with Abdullah's ascension to power.
Ryan argues that the democratization and economic reform efforts promoted by Abdullah are part of an ideological transition. His economic reforms—such as increased privatization and Jordan's entry into the World Trade Organization and the Foreign-Trade Zone program with the United States—are intended to distance Jordan from dependency on neighboring Arab states, especially Iraq. Abdullah's rallying cry, as David Makovsky writes, is "Jordan first."
This effort seems to be working. Jordanian exports to the United States now exceed the $350-million subsidy that Amman received from the Saddam Hussein regime. Jordan, by avoiding the pitfalls of the Iraq imbroglio and the Arab-Israeli conflict, has managed to avoid economic damage. One beneficial result has been the reduction in the unemployment rate from 20-25 percent to 15 percent.
Broadly speaking, Ryan finds in Abdullah's approach a shift away from militarization in favor of an emphasis on economics and education. One can only hope that this interpretation is correct.
 David Makovsky, "Peace Pays off for Jordan," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2003.
Related Topics: Jordan | Asaf Romirowsky | Spring 2004 MEQ
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