Jordan. In July, the government presented a new electoral
law that was drafted on the orders of King Abdullah since he
had dissolved the parliament and postponed the parliamentary
elections planned for the fall. The new electoral law meant
that the voting age was lowered from 19 to 18 and that the
number of seats in the parliament increased from 80 to 104.
The system leads to Jordanians with Palestinian backgrounds
being under-represented in Parliament. Assessors believed
that the new electoral law was an attempt to limit the
influence of the Islamic forces.
Countryaah, Ibrahim Ghusha, spokesman for the Islamist group Hamas
(Islamic Resistance Movement), returned June 30 to J. from
Qatar, where he was forced to go into exile in 1999.
On December 3, a military court sentenced Palestinian
guerrilla leader Abu Nidal and four others to death for
involvement in the murder of a Jordanian diplomat in Beirut
in 1994. Four of the five, including Abu Nidal, were
sentenced in their absence.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the
United States, the government gave the United States its
support in the fight against terrorist suspect Usama bin
Ladin. At the end of December, Jordanian soldiers became the
first from an Arab country to join the US-led coalition in
52 pilgrims on the way from Mecca were killed in a bus
accident in southern J. December 14. Most of them were
At the June 2003 parliamentary elections, which was the
first election following the takeover of Abdullah II,
candidates supporting the king received 2/3 of the seats in
In August 2003, 11 and 50 were injured when Jordan's
embassy in Baghdad was bombed. The explosion destroyed the
entire front of the house. Jordan was heavily accused by
many Iraqis and neighboring countries for supporting the US
war on Iraq and for allowing foreign soldiers to use bases
In September, Jordan's central bank reversed its decision
to freeze accounts in Jordan of leading members of Hamas.
In October, Ali Abu al-Ragheb resigned from the post of
prime minister. He was replaced by Faisal al-Fayez. King
Abdullah II also appointed 3 women ministers.
In February 2004, King Abdullah II and Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad inaugurated the Wahdah hydroelectric plant
on the Yarmuk River, which runs from northern Syria through
the Jordan River to southern Jordan. The dam is expected to
be completed by the end of 2005 and will provide Jordan with
water and Syria with electricity. Acc. Jordan's Minister of
Water Hazem Nasser will not solve Jordan's total water
deficit, but will reduce it by 90%.
In March, Jordan and Israel signed an agreement to build
a science center in a desert area between the two countries.
The project had originally been formulated by Jordanian and
North American academics, businessmen and the Israeli
In April, a Jordanian court sentenced 8 militant
Islamists to death for the October 2002 assassination of
Laurence Foley of the North American aid organization AID.
Foley was gunned down on a street in Amman. One of those
convicted - in absentia - was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was
referred to as the intellectual backer of the murder.
King Abdullah's dissatisfaction with Prime Minister
Faisal al-Fayez and his government led in April 2005 to
resign and was replaced by Adnan Badran. The Jordanian king
has extensive political powers to oust and deploy
governments, pass laws and dissolve parliament. He was
particularly dissatisfied with the Jordanian delegation's
efforts at the Arab summit the month before. The delegation
failed to convince the other Arab countries to conclude
peace treaties with Israel, without this country having
declared the occupation of land conquered in the 1967 war.
The king was also unhappy with the diplomatic handling of a
dispute with the new Iraqi government following a bomb
attack in Hilla as well as the resignation of Planning
Minister Bassem Awadallah. Sources within the new Badran