Jordan. After an election campaign in which the economy
was in focus, most mandates in the parliamentary elections
on November 20 went to independent clan-based candidates
loyal to the royal house. The largest opposition party, the
Islamic Action Front (IAF), received only 6 seats against
earlier 17. The IAF claimed that electoral fraud occurred
and the authorities arrested 17 people suspected of trying
to disrupt voting and influence the election results.
government under Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit resigned
and was replaced by a new government with former Transport
Minister and Air Force Officer Nadir al-Dhabi as chief. King
Abdullah commissioned al-Dhabi to focus on raising the
standard of living for the population and more investment.
Otherwise, the year was dominated by the hunt for
militant Islamists. Nearly 30 people - several of them
Iraqis - were sentenced to long prison terms for involvement
in terrorist activities. Jordanian Muammar al-Jaghbir was
sentenced in November to death for involvement in an attack
on J's embassy in Baghdad in 2003. A court of cassation in
January approved the death penalty against seven people for
involvement in the attacks on several hotels in Amman 2005.
Iraqi Sajida al-Rishawi was the only one of the convicted
who was arrested.
Tens of thousands of Iraqi refugee children, who until
then had not had access to Jordanian school, began school in
August after the government decided that all children,
including those without residence permits, were entitled to
free education. According to human rights organization Human
Rights Watch, there were about 200,000 Iraqi refugee
children in Jordan.
On October 26, 1994, King Hussein and Israeli Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin were able to sign a bilateral peace
agreement. Israel left Jordan 300 km 2 desert and
the border was marked between the two countries, but far
more important was the handing over of the protection of the
Islamic shrines in Jerusalem to King Hussein. The Jordanian
public was surprised at the urgency of a peace deal, but at
the same time, with the meager financial results it gave the
In November 1995, King Hussein visited Jerusalem - for
the first time after Israel occupied the city in 1967. He
participated in the funeral of the murdered Yitzhak Rabin.
In January, the king had appointed Sharif Zaid ibn Saker as
prime minister, but this was already replaced in February
with Abdul Karim al-Kabariti, who was also foreign and
Despite its dependence on Iraqi oil - 75,000 barrels a
day at a favorable price - in 1996 Jordan decided to curtail
trade with Baghdad. Exports to Iraq were reduced by 50%, and
at the same time the US was allowed to use a Jordanian air
base. In August, two Iraqi diplomats were expelled from the
country. They were accused of encouraging rebellion in the
wake of a doubling of the price of bread.
On October 2, 1997, sheikh Ahmed Yassine was released
after serving 8½ years in prison in Israel. In 1987 he
founded the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas and was
sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989 for his
responsibility for numerous assaults. The release came as
part of a prisoner exchange against two Israeli Mossad
agents who had been arrested in Amman after trying to murder
a member of Hamas' political bureau.
Support for King Hussein was strengthened in the wake of
the November 4, 1997 parliamentary elections, which was,
however, marked by less turnout than before. The so-called
tribal chiefs - the leaders of the nomadic groups living in
the desert - are predominantly faithful to the king and
received 68 of the 80 seats in parliament. But at the same
time, the election had been boycotted by the most important
fundamentalist group, the FIA, which objected to the
democratic restrictions, Hussein's economic policy and the
peace agreement with Israel. Abdul Salam Madjali was for the
second time appointed Prime Minister.
The Jordanian government declared the same month that it
would provide Christian education in the public schools to
the children who so desire.
Following threats of North American bombings by Iraq in
February 1998, Jordan was ready to take on a wave of
refugees. During the Gulf War, over 1 million Iraqis had
fled to Jordan. 150,000 of these remained in the country in
1998, but only 35,000 of these had legal residence permits.