On This Day: Jordan Civil War


Arab leaders sign Jordan peace deal

King Hussein of Jordan and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation,Yasser Arafat, have agreed a ceasefire after 10 days of bitter civil war in Jordan.

The agreement, signed at an emergency summit in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, calls for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of all forces from every city in Jordan.

It was countersigned by eight other Arab heads of state invited to Egypt by President Gamel Abdel Nasser in an effort to try to end the crisis.

King Hussein has agreed to end martial law and all “abnormal conditions”, such as military rule.

The Palestinian guerrillas agreed to a cease-fire two days ago and yesterday King Hussein replaced the all-military government so hated by the Palestinians.

However, army officers still head the defence and interior ministries.

The main difference between the Cairo deal and previous ceasefire agreements is that a three-man supreme supervisory committee has been set up to ensure all points are implemented.

The Jordanian king has come under attack from his fellow Arab leaders in recent days.

President Nasser accused the royal army of breaking previous ceasefires and of carrying out a plan to annihilate all Palestinian resistance. He described recent attacks on refugee camps in Jordan as a “horrible massacre, contrary to all Arab and human values”.

The Jordanian government and PLO fedayeen, or guerrillas, have been at loggerheads since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war when Israel took control of the West Bank.

From refugee camps within Jordan, the fedayeen used funds from Arab states and Eastern Europe to attack Israel and tried to assassinate King Hussein.

King Hussein began a military crackdown on the fedayeen on 17 September and a few days later Syrian forces invaded from the north to support the Palestinians.

But they withdrew on 24 September after suffering heavy losses in fighting with the Jordanians.

Meanwhile the last of the remaining Western hostages have been released by Palestinian militants.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had hijacked several airliners some weeks ago and forced them to land in Jordan.

In Context:

The next day, Egypt’s President Nasser died of a heart attack.

During what became known as Black September, Syria, Iraq and Israel became involved in a war that caused widespread destruction and thousands of casualties in Jordan.

The superpowers entered the fray – the US 6th Fleet moved into the Mediterranean while the Soviet Union began leaning heavily on its ally Syria to pull out.

A ceasefire was agreed on 25 September and signed two days later.

On 13 October, King Hussein and Yasser Arafat signed another agreement under which the fedayeen were to recognise Jordanian sovereignty and the king’s authority, withdraw their armed forces from towns and villages and refrain from carrying weapons outside their camps.

In return the Jordanian government agreed to an amnesty to guerrillas that had fought in the civil war.

But fighting continued and only came to an end in 1971 when King Hussein drove out the Palestinians from their remaining bases and expelled them from the country.

BBC News

1 Comment

  • “But fighting continued and only came to an end in 1971 when King Hussein drove out the Palestinians from their remaining bases and expelled them from the country.”

    By the Palestinians they meant fedayeen?

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