Members of the Hashemite Royal family in Jordan are direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima. King Abdullah II represents the 43rd generation of this line.
Emir Abdullah, second son of Sharif Hussein who ruled Mecca and Hijaz until 1925, established regional control of the newly created Transjordan on April 11, 1921. Abdullah’s adherence to his father’s passion for a united Arab front was immediately obvious as Abdullah fought hard for political and military independence from colonial power of Great Britain. On May 15, 1923, Abdullah’s efforts began to prove successful–the Anglo-Transjordan Treaty replaced the British Mandate and established Jordan as a semi-autonomous nation. Immediately, Emir Abdullah was recognized as Head of State and the national armed forces were created.
In 1928, the original constitution and a parliamentary system were created, introducing the Jordanian people to a system of democracy that is still in place today. Jordan’s first parliamentary elections were held in April of 1929.
During World War II, Transjordan sided with the Allies and aided in expelling Axis forces from Syria. Soon afterwards, on March 22, 1946 under King Abdullah, Jordan achieved full independence. Great Britain responded by recognizing the status of the newly renamed Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
King Abdullah I ruled Jordan after independence from Britain. After the assassination of King Abdullah I in 1951, his son King Talal ruled briefly. King Talal’s major accomplishment was the Jordanian constitution. King Talal was removed from the throne in 1952 due to illness. At that time his son, Hussein, was too young to rule, and hence a committee ruled over Jordan.
After Hussein reached 18, he ruled Jordan as king from 1953 to 1999, surviving a number of challenges to his rule, drawing on the loyalty of his military, and serving as a symbol of unity and stability in Jordan. King Hussein ended martial law in 1991 and legalized political parties in 1992. In 1989 and 1993, Jordan held free and fair parliamentary elections. Controversial changes in the election law led Islamist parties to boycott the 1997 elections.
King Abdullah II succeeded his father Hussein following the latter’s death in February 1999. Abdullah moved quickly to reaffirm Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel and its relations with the United States. Abdullah, during the first year in power, refocused the government’s agenda on economic reform.
Jordan’s continuing structural economic difficulties, burgeoning population, and more open political environment led to the emergence of a variety of political parties. Moving toward greater independence, Jordan’s parliament has investigated corruption charges against several regime figures and has become the major forum in which differing political views, including those of political Islamists, are expressed. While the King remains the ultimate authority in Jordan, the parliament plays an important role.