Remembering King Hussein In An Awakened Arabia

September 6th, 1977: Jordan’s King Hussein holds a press conference in Paris, France.

Every year, HM King Hussein is quietly remembered on the day that he was born. If he had lived, he would have been 76 today. And while in past years throughout this last decade or so, such a day would have either gone unnoticed by me (I have trouble remembering my own birthday some times) this year is a bit different. This year it is almost impossible for me not to stop and reflect, even for a brief moment on King Hussein and ask myself the only question I cannot help but think about: what would Hussein have done?

In context of this Arab Awakening it is a pertinent question for most Jordanians. Far from the worshiping complexes that some in the Arab world have of their leaders, King Hussein, even in an objective light, was simply a man who had unmatched skills. In other words, whether it’s the lingering sycophants or the most abrasive critics, whether it was those closest to whom or those who considered him an enemy – most cannot reject the fact that he was a skilled leader. He often took strategic decisions considered unpopular by most, but did so with such passion, force and eloquence that it was difficult not to feel even a little inspired. When I think of a legacy of leadership, an entire body of work, I often think of King Hussein. I think of him on television during the bread riots in Karak during the mid 1990’s – sitting behind a desk, shirt sleeves rolled up, cigarette in hand, chastising rioters like a father to his misbehaving sons. It was a scene that has been marked on my memory.

The man had skills. The kind you get when you are able to survive through the most turbulent decades in the region’s history. If politics is a game, and the history of this region affirms that, then he was closest to a chess master as I’ve ever seen. And with that, one cannot but wonder if things would have been different today. Not only in Jordan, but maybe even the region. There have been numerous times this past year when I would reflect on an event here at home and wonder how King Hussein would have acted, in the same way that I find myself wondering in everyday personal situations how my father would act, react, behave, and respond. What decisions would he have taken?

Every leader faces the world in his own time, and in his own way. But on today of all days, I have to wonder: what would King Hussein do?


  • King Huissen was definitely a brilliant politician who was respected by the most. He committed mistakes throughout his political life but knew exactly how to heal the wound even if he had caused it! He is a kind of man that even his true enemies and opposers were sad for his loss… There are a lot of variables in the present equation which offer infinite number of speculations about “what would he do….”

  • The fact that his major opponents attended his funeral, and the statements they made then says it all.

    I really hope that the leadership and not just citizens are asking the same question.

  • nas any chance you would have a link to that vid you were referring to “I think of him on television during the bread riots in Karak during the mid 1990′s”


  • @FIA: huh?

    @Basel: no unforunately. i did a quick search in english and arabic but i didn’t get anything. its definitely in some government archive/library. one of these days i’m going to go dig it up.

  • Are you joking us Nassem?, Let us be clear and frank, and let us dig some history,Do you guys remember Dr Yacoub Zaiedeen originally from Un Smakieha in Karak who ran on behalf the Jerusalem district in 1956 ,which was the only honest and unrigged campaign ever since the creation of the so called Hashmite kingdom, do you people even know what happened to him at those days?, well let me refresh your memories ladies and gentlemen , he was arrested and tourchered and was sent to spend 7 years in the most notorious prison at that time , Al Jafer in southern dessert and later Dr Zaideen was forced out of jordan , Do you guys remember Toujan Al Faisal and how she was arrested and put in jail after she refused speaking out against corruption , do you remember the so called Black September in 1970, when our forces slaughtered more than 5000 thousand Palestinian fighters in mountains of Jarash after agreed ceasefire .
    DO you want me to dig more history for you
    Like they say in English, like father like son, no?

  • Interesting thought. “…chastising rioters like a father to his misbehaving sons…”, however, may not exactly be the approach that the people who ask for real political and economic reform today in Jordan may want. And it may not be the approach that citizens (as opposed to subjects) deserve.

  • Free Jordanian: as Jordanians we have differed about Dr. Yacoub and Toujan Faisal but 1970? Come on…had Jordanians not fought to keep their country we’d be living under a Syrian, Israeli or Iraqi regime and we’d be anything but “Free Jordanian[s]”. Thats a real first.

  • It is kind of funny and sad when people like Samer justify the murder of over 5000 Palestinians to be “free” after an agreement was reached between the Palestinians leadership and king Hussein whom his grandfather was installed and I might add imposed on the people of Jordan to build a buffer zone to protect one of the most racist regime ever existed on the face of the earth .
    It is funny and sad to think and pretend that we are free in a country where one man show is the only show people be able to chose from ,so much so for your freedom.

  • Maybe all of those soviet explosives people keep finding in caves in the northern part of the country were being stored by the Palestinian “freedom fighters” so that they can celebrate reaching the ceasefire with Jordan…its not funny at all when Jordanians cant see that. It is funny though that the “freedom fighters” later went to Lebanon to liberate it because it too wasnt doing enough to fight Israel.

  • @ Free Jordanian: The black September 1970 event weren’t as simple as you described. The Palestinian militias committed a lot of mistakes likewise. And by their own testimonies they wanted to take over Amman and drop the Jordanian regime with its monarchy! On the other hand the Jordanian regime dealt with the problem in a disastrous way. You can read books and testimonies from both sides. You will clearly see that they both confessed that big mistakes were committed from the Jordanian army side and the Palestinian militia’s side. It was a hard time for all Jordanians and people came over it. I remember in the early 1990’s how people went out to celebrate the return of King Hussein from his first treatment period. No one were asked to go out nevertheless hundreds of thousands in Amman gathered to welcome him back and I assure you more than half of them were from Palestinian origin including me and my family. It was a real spontaneous and honest action from people who respected their king.
    It’s doesn’t matter for me if you liked him or not. But one must be objective and consider both bright and dark sides, positive and negative things about the late king. In the 1990’s we didn’t need tens of “national songs” and symbols to show our loyalty, we didn’t notice racism in schools , stadiums and Universities as nowadays, that was because of the wisdom of king Hussein and if you live and have lived in Jordan at that time you cannot deny it.

  • Palestinians have the right to fight all the corrupted western backed government anywhere any time and there are enough historic evidence and proves that hashmites regime along with other mini manufactured states from day one have always conspired to abort the Palestinian revolution and that’s a fact that nobody can dispute, Palestinians will never give up their right even if it is going to take 1000 years , all these mini manufactured states that the west have imposed on the people of this region will eventually be dissolved and deleted from our region, for god sake , Lebanon is one state that should not even exist and for that matter, and all other mini states including Jordan that your beloved British and french have helped to establish to divide and conquer . if you want to justify your quiescent and submission to the well of the British, French and American empire that I guess is your right but it is no a good choice on your behalf I must say ..

  • @ free jordanian : u live under the jordanian sky ! u’ll accept our king will ..and that’s our will as well whether u agree or not .. u don’t want ? run and hide out side our jordan boundaries .. i don’t think anyone outside will nestle u as we did ..

  • ” u live under the jordanian sky !” oh really saana, please explain to me the so called jordanian sky, how many skies do we really have above our heads, i never knew that there is different , is this new discoveries that Iam not aware of ?

  • One more time saana , please speak for yourself, you don’t speak for your own sister let alone 6 million Jordanian . I advise not to use the word “our” next around if you are looking to debate me ..

  • @ Saana dont waste your time on the “free jordanian”…if you gave him the sky and everything else in it, it wouldnt be enough. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Palestinian people, but he seems to be amongst a small group of them who constantly need to blame others for their own failures and need to adopt the victimization narrative. What about the failures of the corrupted Palestinian leadership? How come there has never been Palestinian leadership representative of the highly educated Palestinian people? Where did Arafat get all his wealth from? Youll never ask these questions, it always other people’s faults. Thanks Saana

  • “What about the failures of the corrupted Palestinian leadership?”, for potatoes sake , Abas and his cronies are part and parcel of the colonial project, couldn’t figure that out yet on your own yet samer?
    Arafat and his corrupted entity and his adventure with Oslo nothing but to cement the colonial project, and where did you get the idea that Arafat and his cronies and the likes of Abbas represent the aspiration of the real Palestinians people ,Cmon man!

  • @ free jordanian…then for “potatoes sake” deal with your own corrupted leaders and get someone who represents your aspirations rather than being critical of our beloved leaders.

  • @omar hahaha well said man…and while youre at it “Free Jordanian”, please stop masquerading as a Jordanian (referring to Jordanian troops as “our” troops) and change your screen name; maybe something with “victimized” in the name. haha for potatoes sake

  • “deal with your own corrupted leaders and get someone who represents your aspirations rather than being critical of our beloved leaders.” what makes think I believe in leaders , مشان البطاط والبندورة البعلية, I only believe in people and only poor people who had suffer enough at the hands of you corrupted elite who has taken you all the way to the bank laughing while you are naively singing هاشمي هاشمي

  • so maybe the people can all rule jointly somehow? Perhaps they can agree to have someone to speak on their behalf…oh wait thats a leader. You sound like you’re from a Monty Python skit man.

  • @ Omar….lol I imagine he’s sitting around cafes talking politics wearing a Che Guevara tshirt while tshirt manufacturers laugh all the way to the bank signing “power to the people”

  • @ Free Jordanian . First and foremost , you maybe free to speak , but there is no way your embedded inherited ideas are free. You clearly don’t want to admit to history. Second you really need to take the Jordanian part off your name, because you’re nothing but. As for the most important point, I LMAO to every statement you made. Everyone who replied to you made more of a business case that you will ever learnt o put together. Silly yet entertaining.

  • من هوا الأردني ومن هوا الغير أردني؟، من هوا السوري ومن هوا الغير سوري، من هوا الفلسطيني ومن هوا الغير فلسطيني؟، من هوا العراقي ومن هوا الغير عراقي؟، من هوا البحريني ومن هواالغير بحريني؟، من هوا البناني ومن هوا الغير لبناني؟ من نحن؟ وكيف وصلنا الى هده الدرجة من السذاجة والسخافة والتفاهة والمضحكة، نعم كيف وصلنا الى هده المستوى الفكري المترهل المزري والسطحي والغير اخلاقي ØŒ ماذا حل بنا وكيف اصبحنا لعبة في ايادي العروش والحكام المستبدون؟ كيف استطاع هؤلاء السماسرة بغسل عقول بعضاً منا؟ هل هي كتب التاريخ المزورة التي عملت من المتواطئ ان يكون زعيماُ او ملكاً مخلدا ØŒ او هي الابواق المئجورة والصحف الصفراء، أو شاشات التلفاز المزيفة ØŸ هل ابتلعنا رواية الحاكم “المظفر” دون هضمها او معرفة ما هوا المحتوى ØŒ هل تفحصنا تاريخنا المزور ØŒ الى متى سنبقى سلعة تباع متى شاء ذالك السلطان ولقمة مستساغة في افواه هؤلاء العروش؟ أسئلة اطرحها على من يهمه الأمر

  • You know what kills me about your argument? You have no consistent approach. At least everyone else is on one side of the wall or the other. You on the other hand, your problem is that you attempt to make ideas look like they are your own, yet they are nothing but a bunch of old dusty historical fantasies not even facts. At the same time you don’t want to admit part of the history and so you present every thought as if it is your new invention. It’s a joke to say the least.
    You cannot ask to reach out to people and ask to be treated simply as an Arabic national without consideration to anything else, when you turn around and play out a one country history lesson tune. Then you want us to define what it is as an Arabic nation what we want and how we got here while you still play the victim role. In some psychology books they call that approach Psychosis and among everyone else, they call it BS.

  • You on the other hand refuse to answer the questions I posted above, like they say if one wants to avoid answering questions then attack the questioner and assassinate his or her character , listen dude, I was not born yesterday . most likely you are at age of one of my children , what I have experienced in my life span most likely it will take you 200 years to experience كما يقوله السلطية ØŒ روح العب غيرها

  • You may be my fathers age which makes you calling me dude even worst. You underestimating my skills based on age only confirms my statements. I rest my case.

  • Yalla time for the next post and the topic to be addressed should be quite obvious! Just look at the press, and you have the courage for it. Good luck. We are waiting.

  • Good article and I too think the same. However king Hussein ruled under a totally different political and importantly, economic environment than king Abdullah does today. Yes king Hussein made difficult political decisions and was a very politically minded leader, however economics in Jordan were much simpler back then (albeit still a major struggle). King Abdullah even confesses in his book Our Last Best Chance, that he inherited an economic mess. His actions and decisions are similar if not better than his fathers because he has the added economic pressures in each of the decisions he makes as a leader. So in a time of global economic peril, I don’t think king Hussein would have coped too well today what with the awakening too.

  • I remember how I admired this man many years ago. What would he do if he was alive today?

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