Husain bin Talal: west mourns the legacy of a tyrant and a traitor

Developing Just Leadership

Jenine Bisan

Dhu al-Qa'dah 28, 1419 1999-03-16

Occupied Arab World

by Jenine Bisan (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 28, No. 2, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1419)

King Husain was a small man, and we are not just talking about his physique, who ruled an artificial kingdom. So, what explains the outpouring of grief in western capitals at his death with four American presidents--one serving and three former--attending his funeral in Amman on February 8 together with presidents and prime ministers from most western countries?

The answer lies not in what he was but what he did. Statements by western as well as Israeli leaders frequently referred to his ‘loyalty.’ Former US president and one-time director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), George Bush, described Husain as a ‘loyal ally.’ So, did British prime minister Tony Blair as did Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. US president Bill Clinton, a self-confessed adulterer and now playing God, even sent him to heaven!

The Hashemite ruler was never loyal to Islam or Muslims; his only loyalty was to the enemies of Islam. He realised that his survival depended on his service to western/Zionist interests. It is to this aspect that he dedicated his life and excelled all others in the region. His singular contribution was to make himself indispensible to the survival of Israel, in order to stay in power.

In his last days, according to official accounts, Husain was kept alive on western life support system. But the medical life support was covered by the usual lies and deceit, which have protected the west’s favourite monarch for decades. Husain had probably already died in the Mayo Clinic on February 4.

Aside from trying to stave off his death, the west had had the diminutive tyrant on its life support system throughout his reign, along with the whole monarchy since its inception in 1921. The British forged the Hashemite monarchy on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, appointing Abdullah ibn al-Husain as its king. Abdullah was the son of Husain ibn Ali, a Turkish descendent from Diyarbakir, of the ‘Aoun tribe, who governed the Hijaz at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The senior Husain had betrayed the Ottoman Turks to lead the Arab revolt at the behest of the British who promised to make him ruler of all the Arabs. True to form, the British double-crossed him. It was at the Cairo conference in 1921 that Winston Churchill, then British colonial secretary, created Transjordan and placed Abdullah on the throne. Husain’s other son, Faisal, was given Iraq to rule.

Abdullah quickly forged close links with the Zionists but in 1951 he was assassinated for this treachery while visiting the Aqsa Mosque. His son Talal succeeded him but in 1952, Husain replaced his father as king. Talal was removed by the British, with the cooperation of his wife Zayn Al Sharaf, after declaring him ‘mentally unfit.’ Since then, Husain has remained a loyal western servant.

Husain continued his grandfather’s plan of handing over to the zionists the rest of Palestine, disguised in the loss of the 1967 war, and in serving the west’s best interests. For his services, under a long-standing secret agreement, Husain received financial support from the CIA. This was a continuation of the system developed by the British, under which ‘moderate leaders’ like Husain received payments in exchange for helpful services. Husain used the funds, about US$10 million, to maintain a strong relationship with the Bedouin tribes of his desert Kingdom. In 1977, this was exposed by the Washington journalist, Bob Woodward, causing some consternation.

In his capacity as a western puppet, Husain also neutralized the Jordanian military, a powerful force feared by the Israelis. He soaked the military in corruption, leaving them unable to do anything except to pledge blind allegiance to him. Simultaneously, he built an elaborate secret service, no doubt with western help.

But it was not till the late seventies and early eighties that Jordan was able to shake off the stigma and embarrassment of the 1967 devastation, which combined with that of the 1970 Black September when Husain massacred thousands of Palestinians, to earn the nicknames ameel and khayin, meaning traitor. Political changes in the area also contributed to Jordan’s changing image in the Middle East. In October 1973, Husain tipped the Israelis 48 hours before the Egyptian army crossed the Suez Canal. It was the Zionists’ arrogance that prevented them from taking the information seriously.

The war in Lebanon and the destruction of Beirut necessitated finding another open hub for the west, which could include its CIA bases and other centers of corruption, as well as a middle eastern ‘cultural center.’ The staged Gulf War of 1991 to destroy Iraq was another decisive factor in Jordan’s international and political role. Strategically, Jordan not only was important as a safe and guaranteed border of Israel, but also as a barrier between Iran and the Palestinians as well as between Iran and the Zionist State.

Along the way, and out of the Palestinians’ tragedy and Diaspora, Husain molded his citizenry, with nearly three-fourths of the population being Palestinians. The Palestinians were instrumental in building Jordan up which prior to the Palestinian catastrophe was no more than a few scattered tribes with a couple of historic dwellings here and there.

Economically, the Palestinians were also of great importance since their remittances from the oil-rich Arab countries poured into Jordan. Additionally, the Palestinians were a lucrative business: as refugees, they were recipients of international compensation and aid. The cruellest irony is that the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, from 1948 and 1967 and others, have all outlived the king.

Parallel to his political machinations, Husain’s marriages have been quite interesting. The first was to Dina, a cousin, but did not last long and ended with a daughter and divorce. His second, which also ended in divorce, was to the British socialite Tony Gardener (who supposedly became a Muslimah and changed her name to Mona Al Husain), from whom he had his two sons--Abdullah and Faisal. The third wife was the Palestinian Alia Touqan, the mother of his son Ali. She gained great popularity, but that did not last long either. She was killed in a helicopter crash, speculated to have been linked to Husain’s mother Zayn.

In 1978 Husain married the Syrian-American Lisa Najeeb Halaby, who turned Queen Nour al-Husain. This fourth and last royal marriage marked the official transition of the guardianship of Jordan from British to US control. Husain’s marriage to Lisa Halaby initiated a wide ranging cultural transformation, to ‘modernize’ and ‘civilize’ Jordanians, and the Queen seemed to have an ‘American’ agenda of her own. It is no wonder that her teenage son Hamzeh, whose introduction to socialites she recently celebrated in a private gala in Manhattan, is now appointed as Abdullah’s crown prince.

The civil transformation that Jordan underwent in the past two decades would have been impossible with Jordan’s modest financial means and meager resources. The urbanization that took place in such a short time was unprecedented. Foreign organizations, interest groups, technical and academic experts, and transnational investors all poured into Jordan. The fingerprints of the World Bank and its notorious ‘structural adjustment programs’ can be seen all over. However, this was not without a social price. Two extremes emerged: a very rich elite was created de novo and the rest, barely able to survive.

Despite the media attention on loyal mourning subjects, which is only parroting the royal policy of public relations, most thinking people know that Husain ruled with an ironfist. The general public lived in fear, with agents and spies in every taxi, office, and marketplace. No one would dare say a disparaging word about sayyidna, as he was referred to under threat of punishment. But the king had dissidents in every rank of the population, with several assassination attempts over the years. Even so, the brain-washed, bought-off, and terrified public, dutifully mourned for the cameras and western news media, because they had no choice.

None of the valiant western reporters mentioned that no dissent from loving the king was allowed, for those whose loyalty could not be bought. Most western journalists ignored the fact that during the Gulf Oil War, Husain ‘opened’ the Jordanian press, only to clamp down harder than ever after the hostilities ceased, unceremoniously tossing into prison those journalists and activists who spoke openly during the period of the king’s ‘free press.’ In short, under such a climate of surveillance, deceit, and repression, no one would dare not to mourn. And yet the western press dutifully lapped it up.

Although western political experts and analysts are now busy speculating what will happen in the coming months, one does not really expect much change. The lack of experience of the new king should not really matter; Jordan will remain a western/zionist colony.

Abdullah is a western product: a British mother, western training and education, hence western allegiance. He looks more like a nightclub bouncer where he spent much of his life. He even had a small acting role in Star Trek. Still, he will face some challenges, as the Americans will seek to situate their approved ‘Iraqi opposition’ in Amman, further straining relations with Saddam, and push Abdullah closer to the zionists. The new diminutive tyrant might also face some challenge from the shunned crown prince, Hasan. But in terms of the daily lives of the Jordanian people, not much will really change.

Muslimedia: March 16-31, 1999

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